By Sean Sarcu @seansarcu on June 10, 2014
After a heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime of Game 7, the Chicago Blackhawks stand in a strange place. A team that nearly made the Stanley Cup Final nevertheless has some significant roster holes but doesn't have very much salary cap space to fill them with. General manager Stan Bowman has indicated that it will be a fairly quiet offseason, but a number of interesting rumors are beginning to swirl all the same.
Given how badly Chicago's defense struggled this season, it isn't surprising to hear Brooks Orpik's name come up in the rumor mill. Orpik has declined rather sharply in recent years, but he would offer a solid stay-at-home presence on the third pairing if the Blackhawks can scrounge together the space to pursue him in free agency.
Dave Bolland was traded out of Chicago last summer due to salary cap constraints, but the Blackhawks could sign him in unrestricted free agency this summer if he is willing to take a small discount. If he can stay healthy, Bolland is a strong option to center Chicago's third line, which would allow the new found dynamic trio of Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad to stay together on the second line.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews' contracts and their accompanying $ 6.3 million annual cap hits — an incredible bargain — are set to expire after next season. Their agent, Pat Brisson, has said that hopes to work with Bowman and finalize extensions for both players by July 1 "if possible." It seems evident that the duo wishes to stay in Chicago. Thus begins the guessing game as to what their contracts will end up looking like.
Patrick Sharp had a brutal 2014 postseason, so naturally the rumor machine has been activated and is churning out potential destinations for him left and right. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been discussed as a potential destination, among others. I think it highly unlikely Sharp goes anywhere and find this rumor to be more the result of disappointment over his playoff performance rather than reflecting any real chance of him being traded.
Ryan Kesler has made his desire to leave the Vancouver Canucks' organization via trade very clear. His list of teams that he would accept a trade to includes the Blackhawks, and it is difficult not to get lost thinking about what a great fit he would be centering Patrick Kane. Chicago has had a gaping hole in the middle on the second line for several years; a trade for Kesler would finally fill it and emphatically so.
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