The Blackhawks may no longer be in salary cap hell, but they are certainly thinner up front writes the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Lazerus. With Andrew Shaw being dealt to Montreal, both Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen off to Carolina, and Andrew Ladd hitting free agency, the Hawks have a number of open spots to shore up. While Chicago can now collectively breathe under the repressive Cap that has had them selling off parts since the summer of 2010, the casualties have come in the way of losing skill players. Lazerus has the Blackhawks possibly bringing back Brian Campbell, who could carry a $2MM/yr cap hit. Meanwhile, the bottom six forwards would look very different than the pedigree most Hawks fans are accustomed to. Lazerus lists Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann as potential candidates to return, while naming P.A. Parenteau or Sam Gagner as possible options to add in free agency.
In other league news:
- The Lightning have tendered qualifying offers to Yanni Gourde, Kristers Gudlevskis, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Tye McGinn, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Nikita Nesterov tweets Erik Eriendsson. In the meantime, general manager Steve Yzerman has a number of decisions to make as the free agency window opens on Friday. Steven Stamkos is still the top priority as teams are lining up to make their pitch. But the equally intriguing angle is what to do with goaltender Ben Bishop. Entering the final year of a contract with a $5.95MM cap hit, Bishop was reportedly working on contract specifics after the Flames were given permission to do so. That was scrapped as soon as the Flames acquired Brian Elliott from the Blues.
- Jason Brough reports that both the Canucks and Rangers may have interest in free agent Thomas Vanek. Though Vanek would be a backup plan to the higher tier free agents, namely Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson, he could be a decent pickup at a reasonable price for both teams seeking scoring help. Vanek had 41 points (18-23) and will see a much lower offer than the three-year/$19.5MM offer he received from Minnesota, who bought him out last week.
- Elliotte Friedman tweets that Canucks winger Chris Higgins was placed on waivers for the purposes of being bought out. According to CapFriendly, the cap hit would be $833,333 through the 2017-18 season. CBS Sports listed Higgins as one of their buyout candidates, and the Vancouver Sun reported the Canucks actively shopping Higgins back in January. Higgins had 4 points (3-1) in 33 games last season.