The Chicago Blackhawks can take some time to savor their 2013 Stanley Cup.
General manager Stan Bowman has the pieces in place for the 'Hawks to begin their title defense in a few short months.
Unlike the aftermath of Chicago's 2010 championship, Bowman is sending out familiar faces based on the talent he has amassed. He has a lot of familiar faces in place and has managed the shrinking salary cap well this time around.
Let's take a look at what the roster might look like when the puck drops to open the 2013-14 campaign. First, allow me to address the lines listed below.
We all know that there are a bevy of different combinations. We also know that coach Joel Quenneville will attempt to find them all. What follows is simply a way to start discussion and list the players who will most likely begin the season in Chicago.
I am going to go with 23 players to fit under the cap of $64.3 million, as per capgeek.com. All salaries are listed based upon capgeek's numbers.
Forwards (14 players)
Bryan Bickell ($4 million), Jonathan Toews ($6.3 million), Patrick Kane ($6.3 million)
Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million), Brandon Pirri ($870,000), Marian Hossa ($5.275 million)
Brandon Saad ($894,167), Marcus Kruger ($1.325 million), Andrew Shaw ($577,500)
Ben Smith ($562,500), Michal Handzus ($1 million), Jeremy Morin ($886,667)
Brandon Bollig ($575,000), Daniel Carcillo ($825,000)
I'm opting to leave Jimmy Hayes to skate top-line minutes in Rockford. Assuming Drew LeBlanc is re-signed, he can skate with the Ice Hogs for most of the upcoming season as well.
Hayes and LeBlanc will have similar cap numbers as the younger players on this list. If LeBlanc were to best Pirri for the right to center line two, Pirri goes to Rockford and the 'Hawks are still under the cap.
Kruger's signing by Bowman fit right into the slot I speculated about last week. Kudos to Bowman for getting his man for the right price.
Defense (seven players)
Duncan Keith ($5.385 million), Brent Seabrook ($5.8 million)
Niklas Hjalmarsson ($3.5 million), Johnny Oduya ($3.383 million)
Nick Leddy ($2.7 million), Michal Rozsival ($2.2 million)
Sheldon Brookbank ($1.25 million)
At this point, the whole blue-line gang is back for the cup defense. The price tag is essentially the same as last season. Securing the back end is a feather in Bowman's cap this summer.
If injury forces any of the defensemen out of the lineup, Ryan Stanton is a cheap call-up who should be able to handle a regular shift.
Goalies (two players)
Corey Crawford ($2.67 million)
Nikolai Khabibulin ($2 million)
No point complaining about Khabibulin's price as the backup. The only issue here is health. Antti Raanta carries a cap hit of $1.4 million if called on.
With the above roster in place, Chicago is $648,205 beneath the cap. That certainly works, but more room could be created by going with 22 players. It would not surprise me to see this happen.
Sending down a player like Carcillo gives Bowman about $1.5 million of space. The same would go for Morin or Pirri if they struggle in what will be their first extended work in the NHL.
A host of young players filling out some depth spots could result in Bowman re-instituting the Rockford shuffle. Players could be sent down and recalled to provide a bit of cap relief.
This also results in players like LeBlanc, Hayes and Stanton getting some action with the Blackhawks over the course of the season. With Rostislav Olesz and Steve Montador out of the organization, any IceHogs call up is going to be a pretty cap-friendly move.
The logical next move for Bowman would be to obtain some veteran presence for Rockford in the form of some two-way, minimum salary players. These would be guys who could mentor what should be a young group of IceHogs.
In addition, they need to be able to be called upon by the 'Hawks if need be. Look for Bowman to sign a player or two to fill this job description.
Bowman may not be done adding to his roster this summer. However, most of the pieces are already in the fold.