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Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks still looking to clear salary after Sharp trade

Lyle Richardson
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Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks still looking to clear salary after Sharp trade

Lyle Richardson
By:

The Chicago Blackhawks shipped Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars Friday in a move that cleared some cap space, but they’ll still need more to re-sign Marcus Kruger and potentially bring back defenseman Johnny Oduya. Meanwhile, the Stars could look for a veteran defenseman and the Toronto Maple Leafs could be looking to make more trades.

The Chicago Blackhawks made their much-anticipated trade of left winger Patrick Sharp on Friday, shipping him and prospect defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Trevor Daley and left winger Ryan Garbutt.

While the Blackhawks cleared Sharp's $5.9-million annual cap hit from their books, they're not out of cap hell yet. They took on Daley's $3.3-million cap hit over the next two seasons, along with half of Garbutt's $1.8-million cap hit through 2016-17. That puts the Hawks under the $71.4 million salary cap by less than $1 million.

The addition of Daley suggests the Blackhawks won't be bringing back unrestricted free agent rearguard Johnny Oduya. CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers reports GM Stan Bowman isn't ruling it out, claiming the situation remains fluid and “there are a lot of factors at play.”

Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune observes restricted free agent center Marcus Kruger must be re-signed. Kruger, 25, earned $1.4 million in actual salary last season and could get a pay bump up to around $2 million annually. That's well above what the Blackhawks can currently afford.

That means Bowman must make another salary-dumping deal to free up sufficient room for Kruger and either Oduya, or an affordable seventh defenseman. Left winger Bryan Bickell ($4-million average cap hit) and Kris Versteeg ($2.2 million) remain possible trade candidates.

STARS CONSIDERING EXPERIENCED ‘D’

While bringing in Sharp provides the Stars with scoring depth and playoff experience, their defense remains an issue. Given they were among last season's worst defensive teams, The Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika suggests pursuing a scorer seems unusual.

Stars GM Jim Nill told Heika he feels young defenseman Stephen Johns is nearly NHL-ready and could be a good addition to their defense corps. Heika also notes the Stars have sufficient cap space (over $6 million) if Nill decides to pursue an experience blueliner via trade or free agency.

The Stars GM could find some affordable blueline options via the UFA market. Oduya could be available if the Blackhawks can't afford to bring him back. Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff are also seeking new teams.

MAPLE LEAFS STILL NOT DONE DEALING

Following the Toronto Maple Leafs' stunning Canada Day trade of right winger Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was anticipated they weren't done making big moves. ESPN.com's Scott Burnside doubted Kessel was the only Leafs domino to drop this summer, while Sportsnet's John Shannon expected center Tyler Bozak to be dealt.

The Leafs made a minor deal over the weekend, acquiring fourth-line forward Taylor Beck from the Nashville Predators. However, they've yet to swing another significant deal involving a core player. There's no mention of Bozak or left winger Joffrey Lupul being shopped, while The Score's Justin Bourne expects defenseman Dion Phaneuf (a frequent subject of trade chatter last season) to return as Leafs captain.

If the Beck deal is any indication, the Leafs aren't done shopping around. They could still move out another core player this summer, but that will depend upon market value. A player like Bozak, for example, isn't as valuable as a proven winner like Sharp or a skilled playmaker like T.J. Oshie. It could take until pre-season before they make another big move.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks still looking to clear salary after Sharp trade