Report: Brian Campbell considering return to Blackhawks in free agency

Jared Clinton
Brian Campbell (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers’ signing of Keith Yandle to a big-money deal makes it a near certainty that veteran defenseman Brian Campbell will be looking to patrol the blueline elsewhere in 2016-17, and it appears on option could be a return to a former city where Campbell had a lot of success.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, Campbell, 37, is considering a return to the Chicago Blackhawks in the off-season, though it would mean that he has to take a significant pay cut from the $7.14 million he was earning this past season. Campbell had six goals and 31 points during the past off-season and could no doubt command at least $4 million on the open market, but a cap hit of that much almost assuredly wouldn’t work for the Blackhawks, who are already under a cap crunch with not much room to maneuver.

A return to Chicago would be an intriguing move for Campbell, though, and a huge get for the Blackhawks, whose blueline was very clearly missing a key piece during the past season. Read more

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks the big winners at NHL Awards

Ian Denomme
Patrick Kane. (Getty Images)

Everyone agrees, Patrick Kane was the best player in the NHL in 2015-16. The Blackhawks star cleaned up at the annual NHL Awards taking home both most-valuable-player awards among his three trophies.

Kane was the runaway winner of the most prestigious award, the Hart Trophy, earning 121 first-place votes from media voters. Runner up Sidney Crosby earned 11 first-place votes. Kane also won the Ted Lindsay Award for the most valuable player as voted by fellow players.

Kane also was the Art Ross Trophy winner as the league’s leading scorer. He finished the season with a career high 46 goals and 60 assists and was 17 points clear of second-leading scorer Jamie Benn.

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Report: Blackhawks’ top prospect Schmaltz leaves NCAA, signs entry-level deal

Jared Clinton
Nick Schmaltz (Elsa/Getty Images)

The key to a successful off-season for Chicago GM Stan Bowman is finding cheap, effective talent to keep the Blackhawks as competitive as they have been over the past several seasons in the Central Division. And it seems Bowman has started his summer by bringing in one of the Blackhawks’ top prospects.

The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine reported Sunday that 20-year-old center Nick Schmaltz has inked a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blackhawks, choosing to forego a third season at University of North Dakota and instead join the pro ranks. In THN’s Future Watch 2016, a panel of scouts ranked Schmaltz as Chicago’s best prospect, and 26th-best in the league, and his performance in the NCAA makes it clear why.

This past season, Schmaltz appeared in 37 games for the UND Fighting Hawks, scoring 11 goals and 46 points. He was a key part of UND’s top line, alongside Drake Caggiula and Brock Boeser, and Schmaltz scored one goal and four points in four games during UND’s Frozen Four national title victory. That’s not to mention his two-goal, eight-point World Junior Championship performance for Team USA. Read more

Bickell trade opens room to sign Shaw, but Blackhawks need to be careful

Jared Clinton
Andrew Shaw (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blackhawks’ salary dump and roster clearing has become an annual tradition in the six off-seasons since Chicago hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2010, their first of the post-expansion era.

On Wednesday, the tradition continued for a seventh consecutive off-season. This time it came in the form of a package deal that cleared cap space — the Blackhawks said goodbye to Bryan Bickell and his $4 million contract — but also cost Chicago a potential star in Teuvo Teravainen. The pair was flipped to the Carolina Hurricanes for draft picks in a trade that came seemingly out of nowhere. The on-ice effect of the Bickell and Teravainen trade will be, for the most part, unknown until the season begins, but as far as the off-season goes, the deal may have saved the Blackhawks from having to rid themselves of another familiar face.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reported the trade, and subsequent freeing of millions in cap space, has the Blackhawks in a position to bring back 24-year-old Andrew Shaw. And Chicago GM Stan Bowman sounds like he wants to bring the agitating winger back into the fold if the money is right.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Bowman said of re-signing Shaw, per Lazerus. “We certainly had to move Bickell to have some flexibility going into next season.” Read more

Bickell-Teravainen trade illustrates everything that’s wrong with the salary cap

Ken Campbell
Bryan Bickell  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The question when it comes to the trade between the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes is not which team won the transaction. We already know that. The more pressing question, one that will only be answered in the coming years, is just how badly did the Hurricanes fleece the Blackhawks?

And the reason why is pretty damned depressing. It’s because the salary cap punishes teams that develop good, young players and spends money to perpetuate a winning culture and rewards those who muddle around in mediocrity and do it on the cheap. The deal that sent Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell (and his $4 million cap hit) to the Hurricanes for a second-round pick in 2016 and a third-rounder in 2017 represents everything that is wrong with the salary cap.

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Blackhawks trade Teravainen, Bickell to Hurricanes for two draft picks

Jared Clinton
Teuvo Teravainen (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes have kicked off the off-season with an incredibly surprising trade.

The Hurricanes announced Wednesday they have acquired winger Bryan Bickell, 30, and center Teuvo Teravainen, 21, from the Blackhawks in exchange for a second-round pick, 50th overall, in 2016 and a third-round pick in 2017. It’s a deal that works for both teams, but one that’s especially good for the Hurricanes, who leveraged the Blackhawks’ need to move Bickell’s $4 million cap hit into landing a young, promising player in Teravainen.

“This deal allowed us to use some of our collected draft picks to improve our group of forwards for the coming season by added two Stanley Cup champions,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said in a release. “Teuvo is a young, highly-skilled player still on his entry-level contract who is coming off of a strong first full NHL season, and Bryan is a veteran who has experienced great success in his career. Both players give our organization more options and flexibility among the forward ranks.” Read more

10 players who could be buyout candidates this off-season

Bryan Bickell (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nothing says the off-season quite like the threat of buyouts, and we’re inching ever-closer to the NHL’s buyout window opening and several players could see their time with their current teams come to a close.

For some of the candidates, massive contracts are at fault, while other will fall victim to underperforming or simply not fitting within a team’s structure any longer. Unfortunately, some are a combination of all three.

With the salary cap remaining relatively flat according to all reports, several teams are going to be in tough financial situations. Even a rise of $2 million in the salary cap, which is a rough estimate of the maximum amount the upper limit will rise, would still see several teams in tough cap positions. That’s not to say all players on this list will be bought out, but there’s at least a fair chance several from this list will be sent packing by way of a buyout. Read more

Can Penguins close out series on the road?

Sidney Crosby (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have another chance to win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and first since 2009, when they face the San Jose Sharks on the road in Game 6.

Trying to win a championship on the road late in a series doesn’t sound like the easiest of feats, but recent history may suggest otherwise.

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