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Stan Bowman passing test of patience while waiting for trades to blossom

Plenty of smoke but little fire on trade front for Blackhawks.

Stan Bowman wore a "what, me worry?" look on his face moments after the 2015 NHL draft ended without the Blackhawks general manager having cleared significant space under the league's salary cap.

As he and the 29 other GMs went their separate ways Saturday, Bowman said he "had a lot of discussions" but the Hawks remain in a tight squeeze monetarily with free agency looming July 1.

The only deal Bowman pulled off was to send goaltender Antti Raanta to the Rangers in exchange for forward prospect Ryan Haggerty in a move that won't alter the Hawks' financial landscape. Raanta, who lost his backup job to Scott Darling in February and now is slated to be the Rangers' backup, has one year remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit of $750,000.

His departure leaves the Hawks with 14 players signed for the 2015-16 season with hits totaling around $64 million. With the cap limit at $71.4 million, Bowman has a lot of work to do.

Sources have said the GM was in discussions with several teams involving wingers Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell, but their cap hits that combine for $9.9 million remain on the books.

"We don't put a timetable on it," Bowman said. "When the deals are there then they're there. (There's) nothing right now but it doesn't mean there won't be things to come."

There is no sense of panic as Bowman has been in this situation before and plenty of time remains, even if the GM wished to accomplish more over the weekend. The Hawks do not have to be cap compliant until the beginning of the 2015-16 season and during the summer can carry contracts totaling 10 percent above the cap. Nevertheless, knowing where they stand at the start of free agency could have an impact on their short-term game plan.

"Ultimately, you have to be cap compliant at the start of the season," Bowman said. "But there are a lot of ways to do that."

In the past, Bowman has used the collection of GMs attending the draft as an opportunity to pull off trades and trim payroll. He did so after the Hawks' 2010 Stanley Cup championship and again in '13. This time around, there was smoke but no fire.

"You don't come into a draft having an idea of how many trades you're going to make," he said. "Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. … You just keep working at it."

Bowman said he did lay the groundwork for some possible deals and "our job is to just keep making calls to try to find something that works. When it does, then we'll do it."

With teams knowing the Hawks' cap predicament, the prices were too low for Bowman to pull the trigger on deals involving Sharp, Bickell and possibly fellow veteran Kris Versteeg. The days surrounding free agency present another opportunity for movement as teams may or may not land the players they want and could come calling.

"Obviously, the way the market works is you have a few players and there are a lot of bidders and (players) usually are looking for long terms and big dollars," Bowman said. "The players who might be moved are on shorter terms than that, so teams start to say, 'Oh well, I don't know if I want to sign a guy (long term).' Players on shorter terms become more attractive at that time."

With the draft behind him, Bowman said his next task will be to sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger. When they are locked in, the Hawks will have a better idea of what they will have to work with in free agency.

Bowman added that he has spoken to the agents for unrestricted veteran free agents Brad Richards and Johnny Oduya — both of whom recently said they would like to return to the Hawks — but their contract demands will dictate whether they will be back.

"(We don't know yet) what we would be offering or what we would be capable of offering," Bowman said. "And you don't know what they're looking for. We'll see."

ckuc@tribpub.com

Twitter @ChrisKuc

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