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Blackhawks, Shaw still working on new contract

Two-time Cup-winning forward can become restricted free agent July 1

by Brian Hedger / correspondent

Forward Andrew Shaw and the Chicago Blackhawks are still in contract negotiations heading into the 2016 NHL Draft this weekend.

Shaw, 24, can become a restricted free agent July 1. In five seasons with Chicago, he has won the Stanley Cup twice, in 2013 and 2015. Shaw, taken in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 2011 draft, led the Blackhawks with four goals in seven games in their Western Conference First Round loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago traded forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 15 to create more salary-cap space, presumably to sign Shaw to a multiyear contract. It's unclear whether that will happen, even after the announcement on Tuesday that the 2016-17 salary cap will be $73 million, up from $71.4 million in 2015-16.

"We've had some good discussions with his agent, so that's sort of ongoing, and we're trying to get something done," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday from Buffalo, where the NHL Draft will be held Friday and Saturday. "That's about how I can characterize it right now. We've got the draft starting [Friday], so we've got lot of things that we're working through, and that's certainly one of them. But I don't really have any progress to report."

Shaw, a 5-foot-11, 179-pound forward, has proven his worth primarily by being versatile and durable. Despite his lack of size, he's willing to pay the physical toll that comes with playing around the net, something coach Joel Quenneville talks about frequently.

Video: DAL@CHI: Shaw puts the Blackhawks on the board in 2nd

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that the Blackhawks are looking into the trade values of Shaw and Marcus Kruger, a defensive-minded center who signed a three-year contract extension last season that carries an average annual value of $3.08 million, according to General Fanager.

"This is the one time of the year when there's probably the most dialogue amongst teams, and I think when that happens, there's lots of rumors that are floating around," Bowman said. "I would say the majority of those are false, but you can't start commenting on individual rumors. We've got a job to do, and there's a lot of conversations that happen at this time of year, so it's our job to have those discussion with other teams."

That's especially true as the draft approaches. Trade discussions ramp up before and during the draft, as GMs and their staffs hammer out organizational plans. The Blackhawks are no different.

Aside from negotiating with Shaw, Bowman has also stayed busy signing players with cap-friendly contracts. In the past nine days, he reached agreements on contract extensions with forwards Richard Panik and Dennis Rasmussen; he also signed collegiate forward prospect Nick Schmaltz, who was selected by Chicago with the 20th pick in the 2014 draft.

All three could make the Blackhawks' roster to start the 2016-17 season.

As for the draft, the Blackhawks have eight picks, one in the first two rounds, a second-round pick acquired from Carolina in the Teravainen/Bickell trade. Six of Chicago's current picks will be made after the third round, which is largely the result of moves Bowman made to acquire help at the NHL Trade Deadline the past two seasons.

Bowman shrugged off the lack of high-round picks, saying it's merely the cost of staying competitive in the salary-cap system.

"It would be great to say [of] anyone you draft, 'He's going to be a Blackhawk forever,' but the system sort of doesn't allow that to happen," Bowman said. "So it's a constant game of maneuvering your assets. As we go into this year's draft, it's no different. We're looking for the best players. And if they end up being Blackhawks for life, that's great, and if they can help us incrementally improve our team over the next five years [in trades], that's great as well. I think that's maybe a different mindset, but that's the way that you have to do it. Otherwise, you sort of shortchange yourself."

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