Niklas Hjalmarsson signed an offer sheet with San Jose last summer, but it was matched by Chicago. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wasted little time taking care of his club's goaltending for next season.
Bowman re-signed Corey Crawford to a three-year, $8 million extension Thursday, then followed up the next day by reportedly inking Alexander Salak to a two-year, one-way contract worth $600,000 per season.
Salak's contract suggests he's being pencilled in as Crawford's backup for next season, confirming unrestricted free agent Marty Turco won't be offered a new deal.
With his goaltending addressed, Bowman's attention is expected to turn to restricted free agents Chris Campoli and Michael Frolik, late-season acquisitions whose performances down the stretch and in the playoffs are expected to translate into contract extensions.
The Crawford and Salak signings push the Blackhawks payroll for next season to just more than $54 million invested in 16 players. Assuming rumors are correct and the salary cap for next season increases to $62 million, that leaves roughly $8 million to re-sign Campoli and Frolik, as well as fill out the rest of the roster.
This means unrestricted free agents such as Tomas Kopecky, Fernando Pisani, Ryan Johnson and Jordan Hendry could follow Turco out the door, plus it remains to be seen if there will be enough money to re-sign RFA Troy Brouwer, who'll seek a raise above the $1 million he earned this season.
Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com believes Bowman will once again have to consider a salary-dumping deal or two, suggesting defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson ($3.5 million per season) is a viable candidate. Bowman, however, matched an offer sheet from the San Jose Sharks last summer to retain Hjalmarsson, so it appears unlikely he'll move him.
New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise recently confirmed GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to initiate contract talks, leading Tom Gulitti of NorthJersey.com to suggest the longer this goes on, the greater the possibility the Devils will take Parise to arbitration as a leverage point when talks do begin.
Gulitti noted one advantage of taking Parise to arbitration is it'll make him ineligible to receive an offer sheet, removing the risk of a rival club attempting to sign him away and forcing the Devils to match an offer they otherwise wouldn't have made.
Devils fans are likely to get nervous about the possibility of Lamoriello taking Parise to arbitration. If the case goes before an arbiter, the winger would be awarded a one-year contract, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
It’s premature to assume it’ll get that far, though. Lamoriello is probably waiting until he knows for certain what the salary cap will be before opening talks with Parise and his other pending free agents. In most cases slated for arbitration, an agreement on a new contract is reached before it goes before an arbiter.
The uncertainty over the future of the Atlanta Thrashers has had an impact upon contract negotiations with team captain Andrew Ladd.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported talks between Ladd and Thrashers management are currently on hold while the ownership situation is sorted, but cautioned against reading into the hiatus as an indication Ladd doesn't want to follow the club to Winnipeg.
Ladd, 25, is due to become a restricted free agent and is probably seeking a significant raise over the $2.35 million he earned this season.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.