The Blackhawks are poised to make some changes after a disappointing 2010-11 season, and with cap space to spare this offseason there’s potential for some quality moves. Blackhawk Up will take a look at who’s available for Stan Bowman to pursue over the next week. However, Bowman cannot negotiate before July 1 – or should he? On the docket today is Washington Capitals’ forward Brooks Laich.

Photo: HBO

CONTRACT STATUS: Unrestricted Free Agent; $2.067 million cap hit in 2010-11 ($2.4 million salary)

2010-11 STATS

: 82 GP; 16 G; 32 A; 46 PIM; plus-14; 3 GWG, 113 hits

Why Stan Bowman Should Be Texting Him Right Now: I can hear panties frothing all over Chicagoland with this suggestion, as “Brooksie” from HBO’sPenguins/Capitals 24/7 mini-series drew the attention of female fans all over the continent with his sexy voice and rugged good looks, not to mention sky-blue eyes that pierced even the most stalwart hearts. But there is a lot more to Brooks Laich than (yep, I’m going to say it…) meets the eye.

He’s 27 years old with 6 NHL seasons under his belt. He stands 6’2″, 200 lbs, and can play center or wing. He has good speed, stands up to abuse, plays up to his size especially in front of the net, and will throw a punch if the need arises. He plays on both the power play and the penalty killing units. He was second on the Capitals in blocked shots. And Laich is all about character, something that the Blackhawks value and seek out in a player.

In short, this could finally be the guy to slot between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Throw 4 years/$14 million at him, and we could get him on the hook. Going up to $16 million might just land that fish.

Don’t Risk the Fine: Chicago won’t be the only team in the hunt for Brooksie. In a thin UFA market filled with mostly aging veterans, Laich will be one of the most sought-after players in the off-season. His price may clear $5 million a season, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a veteran two-way forward with solid statistics in nearly every category and very visible leadership skills.

Put another way, Laich is a potential Captain on half the teams in the league, and may get a long-term deal from a team trying to convince them of their sincerity. As such, despite the thought of playing on a team with the Stanley Cup potential of Chicago, he may want to take an opportunity that more or less guarantees a ‘C’ on his sweater. Knowing that the Captain’s job in Chicago rests with Jonathan Toews for the remainder of his natural life may be a deterrent.

Verdict: Tamper. We’re going to need all the help we can get to put Laich in an Indian Head sweater, and he’s worth getting. He’s a flawless fit as our second-line center, and would give Chicago arguably the most virulent top-six forwards in the league. If he can produce as our second-line center and boost that line’s output to 90+ goals a season, $4 million is justified. With the cap expected to go up next year, this is not just possible, it deserves some serious consideration.

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