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Off-Season Watch: Blackhawks looking to make a splash?


While the Stanley Cup Final continues, the NHL's off-season is rapidly approaching with the NHL Draft starting on June 28 and Free Agent Frenzy on July 1. keeps you up to date with all the latest rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.


Blackhawks set to be active?

The Chicago Blackhawks appear to be a team to watch this summer as the team looks to take a step forward and build around Connor Bedard in his second season.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun writes in The Athletic that the Blackhawks are looking to add a top-six forward and perhaps a middle-six forward as well this off-season.

LeBrun believes Chicago could be a landing spot for Carolina Hurricanes pending restricted free agent Martin Necas, who appears to be available on the trade market. He also shut down a report that the Blackhawks were considering making a major trade with the Colorado Avalanche.

"There was a rumour floating around that the Hawks were considering taking a look at suspended star forward Valeri Nichushkin from the Colorado Avalanche, but I’m told they’re not interested," LeBrun wrote. "Just too much unknown and risk for their liking."

Nichushkin received a suspension of at least six months without pay on May 13 and was placed in Stage 3 of the league's player assistance program. Signed through the 2029-30 season at a cap hit of $6.125 million, the 28-year-old winger scored 28 goals and 53 points in 54 games during the regular season and led the Avalanche with nine goals in eight playoff games before the suspension. 

The Blackhawks last reached the playoffs in 2020 and haven't advanced past the first round of the postseason since winning the Stanley Cup in 2015. 


Jets facing cap crunch

The Winnipeg Jets face a challenging off-season ahead with the team low on cap space after taking a step forward this season.

Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun writes that the Jets, who have $13.7 million in space according to CapFriendly, could be left with around $8.8 million after re-signing their restricted free agents.

Billeck reports that pending unrestricted free agent defenceman Brenden Dillon is planning to test the open market on July 1, while the Jets don't plan to re-sign veteran forward Tyler Toffoli, who was acquired at the trade deadline.

He adds that the focus for the team is getting centre Sean Monahan and defenceman Dylan DeMelo extended before they hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the month. 

Monahan, 29, was acquired in-season from the Montreal Canadiens and posted 26 goals and 59 points in 83 games between the two teams. He appears set for a raise after playing out the season on a one-year, $1.985 million contract.

DeMelo had three goals and 31 points in 82 games last season, adding one assist in five playoff games. He finished second on the team in average ice time this season at 21:43, behind only Josh Morrissey. The 31-year-old is coming off of a four-year deal at a cap hit of $3 million. 

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger has reported that winger Nikolaj Ehlers' name has been "out there" in trade talks for the Jets, with a move potentially freeing cap space. Ehlers, 28, is signed through next season at a cap hit of $6 million ahead of reaching unrestricted free agency. He posted 25 goals and 61 points in 82 games this season, topping the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in the past eight seasons. 

Where will Laine land? 

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the Columbus Blue Jackets and winger Patrik Laine are mutually looking to part ways this summer via a trade. 

Laine finished the season with six goals and nine points in 18 games and entered the player assistance program in January while he was still recovering from a clavicle fracture suffered a month earlier.

The 26-year-old winger is third-highest paid player on the Blue Jackets, with only Johnny Gaudreau ($9.75 million) and Zach Werenski ($9.58 million) carrying higher cap hits on the team.

TSN Hockey Analyst Frankie Corrado joined 7-Eleven That's Hockey's Gino Reda on Thursday to discuss his top-three potential landing spots for the No. 2 overall pick in 2016.

ContentId(1.2134177): 7-Eleven That's Hockey: Top three landing spots for Patrik Laine