It’s becoming readily apparent that Blackhawks realized the error in their ways with the “Qualifying Offers Fiasco” and are doing everything in their power to remedy the situation. After signing 6 restricted free agents yesterday, Kris Versteeg appears to be the last domino to fall. According to Tim Sassone, Versteeg is on the verge of signing a 3-year, $9 million deal with the Hawks.
What this does in the short term is help save face for the Hawks franchise as losing any young players for no compensation because of a clerical error would be a real big black eye. Any kind of arbitration hearing is now moot as the Hawks have come to agreements with all of their restricted free agents.
So if you’re scoring at home, the Blackhawks have replaced Martin Havlat with Marian Hossa; Sami Pahlsson with John Madden; Matt Walker with Brent Sopel, Aaron Johnson, and Jordan Hendry; Nikolai Khabibulin with Corey Crawford; then returned the rest of last year’s team with Tomas Kopecky added to the mix. Still, it’s very likely that someone will be traded in a salary dumping transaction. Hell, it could be more than one guy.
The only salaries that appear to be immovable right now are Sopel, Cristobal Huet, and Brian Campbell. There will be a market for everyone else. Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, we’re looking right at you.
However, assuming the Hawks still fit under the cap after this signing (and I really have no idea who to believe at this point) it also could be very likely that this will be the team you’ll see come training camp. They could be preparing for one big bang, then selling off parts immediately after next season ends to get their payroll back to a reasonable level in order to lock up the ‘Big 3’. In fact, this may be the most logical thing to do.
If there’s anything positive that can come out of the “Qualifying Offers Fiasco”, at least the front office made the mistake this summer, and not next, when it will be absolutely imperative for them to mail out the qualifying offers overnight. Here’s hoping they learned their lesson.
UPDATE– Versteeg signing official. 3 years, $9.25 million with an annual cap hit of 3.08. Same as Barker.