Here's some big news out of Chicago: The Blackhawks are matching San Jose's four-year, $14-million offer sheet to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. He's a 23-year-old with a huge ceiling but that leaves Chicago in even more dire salary cap straits than it already was.
There's plenty of talk floating around that the first move Chicago tries to make is to shed Brian Campbell's $7.1 million annual cap hit. Good luck with that, unless the Hawks can get a team desperate to spend money (like the Islanders) to take the ex-Sabre for some prospects. And I'm fairly certain Campbell has some no-trade clauses in his deal as well that could cause trouble. (Upon further review, trading partner Atlanta is one of five teams, along with the Islanders, currently under the salary cap floor that could easily take Campbell's contract if it wanted to)I would say the Sabres have to be interested in this situation because it would seem that center Patrick Sharp might be available again. He makes $3.9 million and would be a solid addition in Buffalo. The Hawks were adamant he wasn't getting dealt when they made all their moves with Le Thrash. They may have no choice now. They still have to deal with goaltender Antti Niemi's arbitration hearing later this month. According to the latest figures on Capgeek.com, the Hawks have $113,000 in cap space left -- with only 15 players under contract and an overage penalty of $4.1 million to deal with as well! Good thing they won the Cup last month or everything the Hawks did would have gone for naught.
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