The Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to part ways with several key players that won Stanley Cups with them in recent years because they are constantly pushed to the upper limits of the salary cap to keep their core of superstar players together.
That constant roster shuffling continued on Friday night during the first round of the 2016 NHL draft.
It was at that point that the Blackhawks traded forward Andrew Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round draft picks in 2016 (the Canadiens' own second-round pick and another that previously belonged to the Minnesota Wild).
The problem for the Blackhawks is that Shaw -- a player they wanted to keep -- was set to become a restricted free agent this summer and they simply did not have the salary cap space to re-sign him to the type of deal he was looking for, one that was rumored to be in the neighborhood of $4.5 million per season. Instead of shipping out more players to keep him on a contract that probably would have been an overpayment that would have only complicated their long-term salary cap outlook even more, they cashed in and sent him to Montreal for the 39th and 45th picks in the draft.
The Blackhawks do not own a first-round pick this year (it was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Andrew Ladd) but have three picks in the second round, all of them coming within the first 50 picks of the draft.
In 78 games this season Shaw scored 14 goals to go with 20 assists and had a great first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues where he scored four goals and added two more assists in six games.
Originally a fifth-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2011, Shaw spent five seasons with the team and scored 70 goals in 322 games, while also being a part of two Stanley Cup winning teams in 2013 and 2015.
Since that 2015 Cup the Blackhawks have already had to say goodbye to Brandon Saad, Teuvo Teravainen, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and now Shaw. All of them were significant contributors to that team.