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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'There Will Be Some Changes'

(CBS) A day ahead of a third championship parade in the past six seasons, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman admitted his latest Stanley Cup champion will look a lot different soon enough.

"Obviously, there will be some changes," Bowman said Wednesday afternoon at a season-ending press conference.

The NHL has a hard salary cap, and while it's not yet set for the 2015-'16 season, it's expected to be around $71.5 million. With stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane set to have matching eight-year, $84-million contracts kick in, Chicago will have to cut some salary. As it sits now, the Blackhawks have 14 players under contract in 2015-'16 for around $64 million, according to, leaving them no room to pay market value to everyone else.

Antoine Vermette, Andrew Desjardins, Brad Richards and Marcus Kruger are the big-name forwards who are unrestricted free agents. Defensemen Johny Oduya and Michal Rozsival are also unrestricted free agents.

Bowman wouldn't yet get into specifics on who will be back and who will be leaving, even when specifically asked about Vermette and Desjardins, a pair of trade deadline acquisitions whose strong play was instrumental in the Stanley Cup run. He only said it made him happy to see their quality play, even if it priced them out of the Blackhawks' range on the open market.

"It's too early to tell on any of that stuff," Bowman said in general of the upcoming moves. "There's going to be some changes, but that's the same for every team. No one brings back the exact same team. There's a lot of things we haven't quite locked down yet. We don't know what the salary cap number is. That's going to be a part of it. That's going to be released over the next 10 days probably. We're going to do our best to keep the guys that we can. I wouldn't rule anything out yet.

"And I've said this before -- I think there's always a benefit in having some new life and some guys here that didn't win this.

"They've got that hunger."

One player who will certainly be in Chicago is 22-year-old winger Brandon Saad, who's set to become a restricted free agent. Bowman's been emphatic that Saad won't be allowed to walk, and Saad doesn't want to, telling reporters he'll consider taking less money to remain a Blackhawk.

Saad had 23 goals and 52 points while playing all 82-regular season games, often being paired on the first line with Jonathan Toews. He added eight postseason goals in the run to the title.

"They've been great to me, and obviously you play the game to win," Saad said. "We've had some success here, and this is where I want to be.

"That's the goal -- to keep getting better and to be surrounded by a winning team and winning players and to have that attitude. It makes you a better player, so I feel better every year, every day."

Forwards Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million cap hit) and Bryan Bickell ($4 million) are often names thrown around in the trade rumor mill as possible players to be moved to open up cap space. Bowman said he has "hope" to keep the core or almost all of it together.

"There's a lot of questions we have to answer over the next 10 days," Bowman said. "We want to have some stability. I think that's been the hallmark of our success over the past number of years."

Earlier in the season -- one in which he embarrassingly injured himself at a concert -- goalie Corey Crawford sometimes found himself as the subject of similar trade talk, but his outstanding play in the final three rounds of the playoffs and the words of Bowman make it sound likely that he'll be in Chicago next year. Crawford is under contract through 2020.

"He doesn't get the credit he deserves, and I'm not sure why that is," Bowman said. "Perhaps now after winning two Cups, the people will start to realize what we've known all along, which is he's a big-game performer. He battled adversity. He had a great season.

"When the pressure's on, he finds a way to raise his game. I guess that's the measurement I always look at."

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