The Chicago Blackhawks will be faced with some tough roster decisions for yet another off-season, even if the salary cap goes up for next season.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, the team's tight proximity to the salary cap could make it tough for Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to re-sign forward Andrew Shaw.
Shaw, who made $2.5 million in actual salary this season, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent July 1, and will command a raise over his last contract.
The Tribune also notes that the Hawks will owe Rookie of the Year nominee Artemi Panarin $2.575 million in bonuses.
The Blackhawks could buy out the final year of Bryan Bickell's contract -- he has a cap hit of $4 million with one year left on his contract -- and that could help, but the team will still be hard pressed to sign Shaw to a big extension or re-sign the likes of forwards Andrew Ladd or Tomas Fleischmann.
Bowman, however, does not seem overly concerned with some of the decisions he's going to have to make.
"The one thing that gets lost in the shuffle sometimes is what this group has accomplished," Bowman told the Tribune last week. "These guys have earned these contracts from their performance, and it's really unmatched around the league. . . . I don't look at it as a negative that we have these guys."
If the Blackhawks trade Bickell and his $4 million cap it, it would certainly help the team, but they could also look to trade Shaw, as the paper hinted.
"Our goal is to win," Bowman said. "To do that, you have to have players you believe in. And the guys here long term have proved year after year they can get the job done."