The day after the 2006 Entry Draft, you would have been hard-pressed to find a general manager more excited about his club's future than Dale Tallon. The Hawks GM had just bolstered his club's depth at center, getting his most coveted player in the draft with the third overall pick -- Jonathan Toews.
A week later, you'd be hard-pressed to find a general manager more frustrated than Tallon, who has yet to land a top six forward since the start of free agency Saturday afternoon.
"We planned to be aggressive and we've been aggressive," Tallon told chicagoblackhawks.com Sunday. "We've tried and it just hasn't worked out yet."
Tallon said the main sticking point hasn't been the price tags of the players at the top of his wish list so much as the terms.
It's hardly a shock that New Jersey center Patrick Elias, to pick one example, earned a new $6 million contract with the Devils after racking up 45 points in 38 games last season including 16 in the playoffs. The surprise is that New Jersey tied themselves up for seven years. Defensemen Zdeno Chara and Ed Jovanovski, plus forwards Jason Arnott, Marc Savard and Mark Parrish all have inked five-year deals.
"A lot of the players [we sought] wanted a long term, which would interfere with the young guys we're developing," Tallon said. "It's frustrating, but we're still in the hunt to get a couple of players.
"We've been in the running for some of them, but other factors come into play. We have to work harder to make people want to come here since we've struggled recently, and every one of us has worked our rear ends off to make the best deals possible."
Tallon said the Hawks will continue to focus on acquiring at least one top forward. However, several of the remaining free agents have indicated they are not in a hurry to make a decision and will evaluate offers over the next few days.
Tallon did not confirm whether any offers were currently on the table.
Among the remaining free agent forwards the Blackhawks could have an interest in are: LW Sergei Samsonov, RW Anson Carter and RW Brendan Shanahan.
The speedy Samsonov, 27, recorded 23 goals and 30 assists in 74 games for Edmonton last season. According to TSN, the San Jose Sharks have also expressed interested in Samsonov. Carter racked up 33 goals in 81 games for Vancouver last season but could re-sign with the Canucks. At 37, Shanahan played in all 82 games for Detroit and scored an impressive 40 goals to go with 41 assists.
The Blackhawks did fulfill one free agent need this weekend, signing goaltender Patrick Lalime to a one-year deal to serve as Nikolai Khabibulin's backup. Lalime replaces Craig Anderson, who was traded to Florida for a future draft pick. As the starter for Ottawa in 2002-03, Lalime was 39-20-7 with a 2.16 goals against average and .910 save percentage.
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