Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Blackhawks [Print without images]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Mailbag: An early look at the Hawks' roster

By Jesse Rogers

The mail has been piling up so it’s time to answer it. The Blackhawks’ offseason has been a roller coaster and we’re only halfway home.

Q: What do you think the roster will look like come opening night? -- The Other JJ, Elgin, Ill.

A:
Let’s give it a try:

First line: Troy Brouwer / Jonathan Toews / Patrick Kane

Second line: Tomas Kopecky / Patrick Sharp / Marian Hossa

Third line: Bryan Bickell / Dave Bolland/ ???

Fourth line: Jake Dowell / Marty Reasoner / ???

Defensemen: Duncan Keith / Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson / Brian Campbell

Jordan Hendry / John Scott

Brouwer and Bickell could alternate and that fifth or sixth defenseman could be different. Seems like there would be two openings up front, and if they can afford him, Viktor Stalberg -- who they picked up for Kris Versteeg -- has an inside track. As for goalies, I have a feeling it’s going to be Corey Crawford and Hannu Toivonen. This is all if they don’t trade Sharp or Campbell or someone else. Off the top of my head!

Q: What are they going to do with Cristobal Huet? – Steve, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

A:
Pretty simple. He plays in the minors or Europe. I’m guessing Europe and his salary would come off the books either way, although he would still get paid.

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
Bonuses earned by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are one factor in the Blackhawks' salary cap issues.
Q: Hey Jesse, I have a three-part question: A) When Dale Tallon/Stan Bowman failed to file the qualifying offers on time last summer, roughly how much money did that cost the Hawks? Everyone talks about that, but nobody has ever put a number on it. B) The $4 million in bonuses to Toews and Kane alone are way higher than that of any entire team. Granted, we won the Cup, but do you find the Hawks' bonus clauses dangerously high? C) As we might lose Patrick Sharp or Antti Niemi, which do you blame more, A or B? Thanks for your insight. – Dan, Champaign, Ill.

A:
It’s hard to be exact about how much they overpaid to make up for the qualifying mistake. We don’t know what kind of deals they would have signed without the snafu but it’s safe to say several million dollars. Best I can do. Not sure what you mean about the bonuses. I’m guessing Sidney Crosby had similar incentives/bonuses in his entry-level deal as do many others. Hey, who would think in his first three years in the league Toews would actually win the Conn Smythe trophy? As for Kane being in the top 10 in scoring in his first three years, that is one I don’t like. Make it top five or top three. He finished ninth and it hurt them. Since we don’t know an exact figure from the RFA mess, I’ll say those bonuses are costing the Hawks a good player.

Q: I know the Maple Leafs are interested in trading Tomas Kaberle and the Hawks need to get rid of some more salary. What about a swap of Campbell for Kaberle? The Hawks would save money for the cap and still have a very good d-man? Also add in a prospect or pick if needed. Do you think this is something the Hawks would be interested in? -- Steve Bermes, Oswego, Ill.

A:
I do, but not sure about the Leafs. It would be a gift to the Hawks. Kaberle is an unrestricted free agent next year, so his $4.25 million would come off the books, meaning Campbell’s entire $7.1 million would be gone by the end of the season. Would be a great move, but the Leafs would be stuck with a huge contract. If Brian Burke loves Campbell, then maybe, but he’s overpaid by at least $2 million. For $7 million, my d-man has to do it all and Campbell simply does not, though he can move that puck!

Q: Are the Hawks planning on moving Huet down to Rockford? In doing so, I’m sure the Hawks would have enough to sign Antti Niemi plus a couple more minimum-salary guys to fill out the roster. Am I way off, or is this in Stan The Man’s plan? Thanks. – Rich, Chicago, Ill.

A:
Unfortunately, even with Huet in the minors or Europe, the Hawks still have cap problems. Unless Niemi signs a real team-friendly deal, they can’t afford him and everyone else. He’d have to sign for under $2 million, and then they would need to fill in with minimum-type guys. Probably won’t happen but you never know what creative math can do!