The Blackhawks surprised many with their upset of Edmonton in the Qualifying Round before being ousted quickly by Vegas. Still, it was a promising step for a team that was going to miss the postseason altogether in a normal year. Despite the small change in their fortunes, GM Stan Bowman told reporters, including Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago, that he doesn’t foresee much in the way of changes for next season. The team already has $74MM in commitments for next season with no starting goalie under contract while winger Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome need new deals as well. That doesn’t leave any room to really add to the roster.
When asked about the possibility of buyouts (defenseman Olli Maatta and forward Zack Smith are speculative candidates), Bowman acknowledged that it’s an option. However, decisions on whether or not to use that route to free up some short-term cap space won’t be made for another month or so.
More from the Western Conference:
- On top of Nick Schmaltz missing the entire postseason with a head injury, Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider notes (Twitter link) that center Christian Dvorak played through a shoulder injury while winger Conor Garland had a head injury. On top of that, center Brad Richardson has a thumb injury that will require surgery this offseason. Arizona was able to get by Nashville in the Qualifying Round before falling in five games to Colorado.
- With Calgary bowing out quickly in the playoffs again after being ousted by Dallas, many expect the Flames to make some notable changes before next season. Sportsnet’s Eric Francis suggests that winger Johnny Gaudreau is a likely candidate to be moved following another quiet postseason showing that saw all but one of his seven points come with the power play. However, another potential factor is that Gaudreau is one season away from having a significant no-trade clause (a five-team trade list). At a time where many teams will have to shake things up, the time may be right to test the waters on Gaudreau as well. He has two years left on his deal with a $6.75MM AAV.