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 Philadelphia Flyers forward Ville Leino.

Photo: Getty Images

CONTRACT STATUS: Unrestricted free agent; $800k cap hit in 2010-11 ($825k salary)

2010-11 STATS: 81 GP; 19 G; 34 A; plus-14; 117 SOG

Why Stan Bowman Should Be Texing Him Right Now: To think Detroit had Leino in their system for two years until finally trading him to Philadelphia gets me bubbly. Then I remember his playoff performances during the Blackhawks’ Cup run, which nearly gave me a heart attack. Now that he’s available again, it may not be a bad idea to explore bringing the kid to our side. His offensive aggressiveness will be welcomed, as well as his versitility to play either the second or third line wing. Leino’s 117 shots on goal last season were by far a career high, though he played more game than in any other season. He had 11 regular-season points in 2009-10 in 51 games between Detroit and Philadelphia, then exploded for 21 points in 19 playoff games. That burst gave Leino a solid spot last season, when he finally stuck and proved his worth – which was being underpaid and under-utilized previously.

With the Flyers’ acquisition of Ilya Bryzgalov’s negotiating rights – and they’ll do everything to sign him to a hefty pay day – certain players in Philadelphia will become expendable. Leino is definitely due a big raise – possibly to a $2.5M-$3M cap hit – which Philadelphia likely can’t afford. Leino was asked about taking a hometown discount to return, and that doesn’t appear to be a possibility. Bowman could swoop in, feel him out on what type of new paper he’s looking for, then figure out if he could fit into the Blackhawks’ plans. With change coming to the offense, Leino could fit in well.

Don’t Risk the Fine: Was Leino’s time in Detroit brief because of the Red Wings’ depth at forward? Or was he simply overlooked and sent away? That’s a good question, but remember Leino isn’t exactly a youngster despite his limited time in the NHL. He’s 27 now and just got his first chance this season. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a late bloomer, though it does raise a flag. Leino is going to demand more money as a Flavor of the Week than say a Troy Brouwer or Michael Frolik, despite the fact both Brouwer and Frolik are younger and have proven a bit more having more time in the league under their belts. Even if the money is comparable, it’s questionable whether or not Leino will be able to provide more than anyone the Blackhawks can bring in for cheaper.

Verdict: Don’t tamper. Keep the money and spend it on the in-house RFAs rather than getting under a three- or four-year deal worth more money that Bowman wants to spend.

Tampering Week: Rundown

June 17:   Eric Belanger
June 16:   Brooks Laich
June 15:   Brandon Dubinsky

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