Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw wants to stay but can Blackhawks afford him?

Andrew Shaw wants to stay but can Blackhawks afford him?

Andrew Shaw brushed off questions about his status as the postseason continued, saying he would let that all work itself out in the summer.

The thought, however, has been there. And now that the summer came quicker than he and the Blackhawks anticipated, the question was raised again: How much does an uncertain offseason weigh on Shaw?

“You try not to [think about it] but I trust my agent and Stan to do what they can,” said Shaw, talking about Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. “I want to be back here and I think they want me back.”

There’s little doubt the Blackhawks would like to have Shaw back. But the last few seasons it’s rarely been about what the Blackhawks want. It’s what they can afford. And they may not be able to afford Shaw.

Shaw, who is now a restricted free agent, could certainly get a lucrative contract elsewhere. The forward is coming off a two-year deal that had a $2 million cap hit. The Blackhawks don’t know what the salary cap will be for 2016-17, but it likely won’t go up by much. Considering that, plus Artemi Panarin’s performance bonuses – most of that $2.595 million counts against next season’s cap – and the Blackhawks will have a tough time coming up with money for Shaw.

Bowman said he won’t know where the cap settles until June, so it was difficult for him to say whether the Blackhawks could or couldn’t re-sign Shaw. There’s no doubt of Shaw’s value, though, Bowman said.

“He's a heart and soul player, really competitive. He lays it on the line every night,” Bowman said. “We certainly like what Andrew brings to the table. There's just some things that have yet to be determined, in terms of what's the salary cap going to be. I don't have enough information to answer that, but certainly we’d like to try and do what we can to bring him here.”

Shaw was the Blackhawks’ leading scorer this postseason, recording four goals in six games against the St. Louis Blues. For coach Joel Quenneville, Shaw has long brought those intangibles that he appreciates.

“His competitiveness, his willingness to find the dirty areas, score big goals doesn’t get distracted by the competition. I think everybody loves that feistiness he brings every game. So he’s an irreplaceable guy in that regard,” Quenneville said. “When we’ll get those [cap] discussions we’ll see how it all plays out. But I think everybody has an appreciation for what hebrings.”

His teammates certainly do, on and off the ice.

“He would be a difficult guy to replace, we all want to see him back here, I think we all enjoy having him around,” Patrick Kane said. “He's one of those guys who gets along with everyone on the team and can bring some comedy to the room and also at the same time you saw how successful he was and has been in playoffs throughout his career. And I think with him too he's still a pretty young guy and he has a lot left in him and a lot ahead of him to improve. We all hope to see him back here.”

Shaw has been a big part of the Blackhawks through these past few seasons including the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup teams. But once again, the Blackhawks could lose a valued player because of the salary cap. Bowman has worked his magic before with the cap. Perhaps they buy out Bryan Bickell’s contract, which would give the Blackhawks some breathing room. Maybe Shaw plays the part that Marcus Kruger did last offseason, taking a short contract with a small raise until the Blackhawks get more cap space.

There are options, but there aren’t many. Shaw has made his position clear: He wants to stay. Whether or not the Blackhawks can afford that remains to be seen.

“I want to be back here," Shaw said. "I’ve been in Chicago for five years now and I’ve made this place my home. We’ve got a lot of friends. I love the city; love the fan support here. Like I said, be patient and wait for that call.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.