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 wish list today is Carolina Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter.

Photo: Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

CONTRACT STATUS: Restricted free agent; $1.225M cap hit in 2010-11

2010-11 STATS: 82 GP; 14 G; 15 A; plus-13; 1 PP goal

Why Stan Bowman Should Be Texting Him Right Now: Doesn’t hurt to dream, right? Brandon Sutter’s point totals were actually down a bit this year, after a 40-point season last year. But his plus-minus went from minus-1 to plus-13. Finding highlights on this kid is difficult, and the videos are short: he’s one of those guys that makes a play out of nowhere and next thing you know, it’s in the net. He’s not exceptionally fast, he doesn’t have an exceptionally good shot, but he can deliver a hit and he’s very willing to drop the gloves. At 22 years old, he’s 6′ 3″, but a lanky 183 pounds. If the kid fills out his frame — put 20 pounds of muscle on him, for instance — yikes!

Sutter is coming off his entry-level contract, and he will likely be expecting a raise. But how much of a raise is warranted? I would be surprised if he got more than 4 years and $2.5 million per season. He hasn’t proven himself to be exceptional at anything — yet. He’s got significant potential, and playing with the right players might just be the catalyst to draw that out of him. Patrick Sharp, for instance. This could be a good pickup that doesn’t break the bank. With the salary cap reported to be at or near $64 million for the 2011-12 season, the Blackhawks could easily fit him in at $3 million or more.

Don’t Risk the Fine: Carolina has the second-fewest players under contract, and the second-most available cap space for 2011-12. Sutter’s restricted status means Carolina has the right to match any offer sheet he receives, and the team has plenty of money to do so. Sutter has a lot of upside, but right now it’s just upside — not documented performance. Putting in an offer sheet that Carolina would not match would mean overpaying a young player that may never live up to billing.

The Verdict: Don’t tamper. If he had another 3 seasons under his belt, or he was an unrestricted free agent, or had a second 40-point season, or had a reputation as a hard-hitting power forward… maybe. But he’s not worth the offer sheet, let alone the risk of having the league come down on us for trying to get our foot in the door early. If he can prove himself to be more of a pain in the neck on the ice, I wouldn’t mind seeing him suit up for the Blackhawks. But now’s not the time.

Tampering Week Rundown:

June 20:  Andrew Ladd
June 19:   Semyon Varlamov
June 18:   Ville Leino
June 17:   Eric Belanger
June 16:   Brooks Laich
June 15:   Brandon Dubinsky