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updated: 7/3/2011 12:57 AM

Crowded roster gives Bowman options

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  • Hawks fans quickly showed widely ranging reaction to the signing of winger Daniel Carcillo (13), here ending up on top of Nashville Predators in the 2008 season. Carcillo was called for goaltender interference on the play.

      Hawks fans quickly showed widely ranging reaction to the signing of winger Daniel Carcillo (13), here ending up on top of Nashville Predators in the 2008 season. Carcillo was called for goaltender interference on the play.
    Associated Press

 

Following the signings of free agents Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers, Dan Carcillo, Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell, all of a sudden the Blackhawks have an abundance of players on their roster.

Assuming restricted free agents Michael Frolik, Chris Campoli and Viktor Stalberg are signed at some point in the near future, it would give the Hawks 27 players in the mix for jobs in the fall.

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That includes Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach and Brett McLean.

It would seem as if general manager Stan Bowman certainly has some pieces lined up to use as trade bait between now and the start of training camp, possibly in his quest for a center who could help on either the second or third lines.

There were rumors on Saturday of trade talks between the Hawks and Montreal, leading to speculation Bowman was finding it difficult to get Frolik, Campoli and Stalberg re-signed.

Bowman said Friday he expected to sign all three, but with eight veteran defensemen on the depth chart after the additions of Montador and O'Donnell, and following the trade for Rostislav Olesz and the signing of Brunette, perhaps the return of Frolik and Campoli is no longer guaranteed.

Campoli earned $1.4 million last season and if he is looking for a considerable bump in salary, much of the leverage he had before Friday is gone because of the arrival of Montador and O'Donnell.

The additions of Brunette, Mayers, Carcillo and Olesz should make it more difficult for rookie forwards Smith, Kruger, Morin and Beach to make the team out of training camp.

Where as recently as last week Smith and Kruger were assumed to have roster spots to lose, now we can look forward to some fierce competition at training camp.

"We do have a lot of good young players coming in and we're very committed to the future of our franchise with young players, but I don't think you want to hand out jobs in the summertime," Bowman said. "Those are jobs to be earned, not only in training camp, but throughout the season.

"Look, if those players are better than the other players then we're going to find a way to get them in the lineup. Competition brings out the best in everybody so I think it's a great situation. Some of these young players who came up late, it was a great experience for them and they might be here as well.

"I like the fact that we've got a strong group of players who have already done it and you can count on them to be there, and you've got young players who are hungry to do it," Bowman said.

It was believed the Hawks on Saturday were kicking the tires on several of the free-agent centers still available, a thin list that included John Madden, Eric Belanger and Zenon Konopka -- but none of them are second-line material.

Hit or miss?

The ink still was drying on Dan Carcillo's contract and already the controversial winger was proving to be a lightning rod with Hawks fans.

Twitter lit up immediately with comments after Carcillo signed a one-year, $775,000 contract as a free agent on Friday, with the opinions running about 50-50 on whether it was a good decision by Stan Bowman to add a guy who plays on the edge of the rule book.

Carcillo likely will need to prove to his new teammates as well that he is ready to be a serious contributor and not a guy who has often reverted to selfish and undisciplined play. Can't imagine Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith putting up with that.

Rebuilt Panthers:

Florida GM Dale Tallon has been the busiest man in hockey lately.

In the last week Tallon has traded for Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky and signed Tomas Fleishmann, Sean Bergenheim, Scottie Upshall, Ed Jovanovski and Jose Theodore as free agents.

Are the Panthers now a playoff team? Let's put it this way: They're closer now than they were.

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