Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman pulled the trigger on another salary-cap motivated trade on Thursday. But this time it doesn't involve waving goodbye to a key player from the Hawks' Stanley Cup run.
The Hawks traded center Marty Reasoner to the Florida Panthers in exchange for center Jeff Taffe. Reasoner was acquired in the deal that sent Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel to the Atlanta Thrashers on June 24.
The move essentially frees up more money to re-sign goalie Antti Niemi, who has his arbitration hearing on July 29. Reasoner has a cap hit of $1.15 million. Niemi is due a substantial raise from his $826,875 salary of last season. But little cap space remains.
"We still got a few ideas on how to make things work," Bowman said earlier this week. "As of right now, we don't have a solution yet. But we've got ideas. It will play itself out over the next 10 days or so. I can tell you one thing. We'll be ready come October and we'll have a good team."
Since Bowman declared that forward Patrick Sharp isn't leaving Chicago and that defenseman Brian Campbell's lengthy, $7 million-plus per year contract is virtually immovable, those ideas look like moving out role players such as Reasoner. The veteran was considered the replacement for John Madden, who the Hawks are unlikely to re-sign.
Taffe, the 30th overall pick in 2000, is not guaranteed a spot on the Hawks. But he does carry a low cap hit of $550,000. Taffe, 29, also has NHL experience, recording 21 goals and 44 points in 174 regular-season games over parts of seven seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers. He had a goal and an assist in 21 games with the Panthers last year.