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’ goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

Photo: AP

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted Free Agent; $821,667 cap hit in 2010-11 ($765,000 salary)

2010-11 STATS: 27 GP; 11-9-5; 2.23 GAA; 0.924 SVG; 2 SO

Why Stan Bowman Should Be Texting Him Right Now: Three reasons. First, because Varlamov’s stats don’t tell the whole story. He was considered the heir apparent in Washington before the team went into the losing streak documented for all to see on the HBO mini-series leading up to the Winter Classic against the Penguins. Second, because he’s a big, young goaltender with a lot of upside who will still be easy to put on the roster with a two-way deal and a cap hit below $1 million. And thirt, because Alexander Salak hasn’t played a day in North America in his career, and we need a backup goaltender with proven NHL experience in case the kid can’t hack it. Corey Crawford can’t play all 82 games.

Varlamov is another butterfly goaltender with good hands, but he plays shallow in his crease, creating a few oh-holy-crap situations a la Tim Thomas. But the video below shows that he has some decent tricks in his bag.

Don’t Risk the Fine: First of all, he’s extra weight. We don’t know that Salak can play in the NHL, but we don’t know he can’t either. Signing Varlamov and sticking him in Rockford takes a spot away from our developing netminders, all of whom can use the ice time. I suppose worse came to worst he’s a decent kicker to include in a trade, but why add the headache in the first place? And secondly, he’s restricted, which means the Capitals can keep him by matching any offer sheet we put in front of him. We’re not looking for anybody pricey, so it would be about a 99% chance that Washington would match and keep him anyhow.

Verdict: Don’t tamper. The Blackhawks need somebody to fill this role on the team, and I would prefer it not be another past-his-prime veteran still thinking he’ll have one last chance at glory. Better a kid we can groom into the backup role, or one that becomes a valuable asset for a trade down the road. If Washington is dealing at the draft it would be great to pick up his rights in a deal.  But unless Washington fails to qualify him, he’s likely staying right where he is.

Tampering Week: Rundown

June 18:   Ville Leino
June 17:   Eric Belanger
June 16:   Brooks Laich
June 15:   Brandon Dubinsky

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