Blackhawks

Why June 11 matters to the Blackhawks fan

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AP

Why June 11 matters to the Blackhawks fan

June 11 is a day to remember for Blackhawks fans. And Blackhawks legends Denis Savard and Jeremy Roenick likely have fond memories of the day as well.

In the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, the Blackhawks took Savard in the first round with the third overall pick. Savard tallied 28 goals and collected 47 assists in 76 games in his rookie season. He played 10 straight seasons with the Blackhawks until he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Chris Chelios and a second-round pick.

Savard then eventually played with the Tampa Bay Lightning for two seasons.

The Blackhawks have had a history of reacquiring former players and Savard's second go-around with the club might be one of the more notable transactions in that category. The Blackhawks acquired Savard from Tampa Bay in 1995. He then played three more seasons with the Blackhawks before retiring in 1997. He briefly coached the Blackhawks from 2006-09 and eventually was replaced by current Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

In 13 seasons, Savard appeared in seven All-Star Games, won a Stanley Cup in 1993 with the Canadiens and complied 473 goals, 865 assists and 1,338 points. He was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 2000 as a player.

The Blackhawks took Roenick with the eighth overall pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

Roenick played eight seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, tallying 267 goals and 329 assists. His best years with the Blackhawks came when he recorded over 40 goals and 50 assists from 1990-94.

In 2009, Roenick announced his retirement after 20 seasons, while having stops with the Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Roenick played in nine All-Star Games while also joining the 500-goal club in 2007. Roenick tallied 513 goals, 703 assists and 1,216 points in 1,363 career games.

With the 2018 NHL draft taking place in less than two weeks in Dallas, we’ll see if the Blackhawks can draft yet another talented prospect like they did on this date.

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

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USA TODAY

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

The NHL Draft is over. Farm systems have been restocked and now the focus has shifted to free agency, where the fun is just beginning.

The biggest fish on the market is John Tavares, a franchise-changing center in the heart of his prime. For a little bit, it seemed like the loyal New York Islanders captain was ready to move on after they took another step back by missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

But then Lou Lamiorello became available and was snatched up by Long Island. His first order of business was relieving GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties, the first real sign that significant changes were coming. The next was securing Barry Trotz as head coach after he couldn't agree to terms on an extension with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be structure in the front office and coaching staff.

Yet, Tavares has remained committed to visiting with reportedly five teams in Los Angeles during the free agent negotiating window that opened Sunday. And he's absolutely earned that right. San Jose and Toronto are believed to be two of the teams. The rest is unclear.

When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle at the end of the draft on Saturday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wouldn't confirm nor deny that they were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Tavares.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile.

Whether or not they are, could the Blackhawks realistically even make it work?

They actually have the cap space to do it. Or at least they can make room without shuffling too many cards.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have $9.225 million in open cap space to fill out six roster spots. If you can find a trade partner for Marian Hossa's contract, that creates an extra $5.275 million, which brings the total up to $14.5 million. That's without subtracting any real bodies from the roster. 

Tavares is likely to command in the $10 million range for average annual value over the next seven years, and the latter part is key. While it would certainly be challenging to have three players eating up at least $10 million each in cap space — with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million — they could make it work in the short term.

But signing Tavares to a seven-year deal would probably get in the way of the Blackhawks' longer-term goals, which includes re-signing Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level deals expire and even Vinnie Hinostroza when his new two-year contract ends.

Are the Blackhawks willing to risk that?

For Tavares, maybe. But Toews is 30, Kane is 29 and Tavares will be 28 by the time this upcoming season starts. At some point, an infusion of youth would be required to remain competitive for the long term.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

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USA TODAY

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention.