Blackhawks GM: Brandon Saad ‘Going To Be A Big Part Of Our Group For Years To Come’

The attention of NHL teams has shifted to the draft and free agency now that the Stanley Cup Final is over.

The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will be tight against the salary cap going into the summer with superstar forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane’s extensions going into effect for the 2015-16 season with $10.5 million cap hits.

As a result, the ‘Hawks will have several tough decisions to make when putting together their roster for next season. Many of their players are free agents of some kind (six unrestricted, four restricted).

Here’s a list of notable unrestricted free agents for Chicago.

  • Antoine Vermette, C
  • Brad Richards, C
  • Andrew Desjardins, LW
  • Johnny Oduya, D

The top priority, however, likely will be restricted free agent forward Brandon Saad. He was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft and has developed into a legitimate top-six forward at just 22 years old. Saad tallied 23 goals, 29 assists and 52 points in 82 games this season — all career highs. His eight goals in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs ranked third on the Blackhawks behind Kane’s 11 and Toews’ 10.

Given the Blackhawks’ cap situation and Saad’s impressive skill set, there’s a threat of an offer sheet if he remains unsigned when free agency begins July 1. Although, the team wants to keep Saad in Chicago for a long time. [tweet https://twitter.com/NHLBlackhawks/status/611237406285692928 align=”center”]

The Blackhawks might have to make other moves to be able to re-sign Saad, but it’s worth the trouble because he’s a valuable member of the team’s championship core.

Thumbnail photo viaKim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images. Salary information via General Fanager.

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