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Sean Leahy

‘PC Load Letter’? Tallon’s snafu could cost ‘Hawks

Sean Leahy
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There's a good chance Dale Tallon is having a case of the Monday's right now. As TSN's Darren Dreger reported late Friday night, Tallon's qualifying offers made to Blackhawks restricted free agents Kris Versteeg(notes), Cam Barker(notes), Ben Eager(notes), Colin Fraser(notes), Aaron Johnson(notes), and Troy Brouwer(notes) might have gotten lost in the mail with the possible ramifications being that those players could end up becoming unrestricted free agents.

On Friday, Dreger explained the mix-up saying that the July 1 holiday and the fact that the offers were mailed instead of via courier or fax and that the players did not receive them in time, while sources said that the players agents received nothing.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Allan Walsh, who represents Aaron Johnson, said that as of yesterday, no qualifying offer had been received, despite Tallon's claims on Wednesday that they were all sent out.

In a follow up last night, Dreger said that the NHL and NHLPA are investigating the matter and if the League should grant leniency in the issue, the Players Association might file a grievance.

(UPDATE: According to Dreger's latest update, the matter is now in the hands of the PA and if they do not grieve, the situation will be over and the offers will still be legal.)

This isn't the first time a clerical error during free agency cost a team. Back in 2000, the New Jersey Devils forgot to send paperwork for Brian Rafalski(notes) and John Madden(notes) and both became free agents that could be signed without compensation. Rafalski had been making $450,000 at the time and Madden $550,000. Due to the error, New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello had to act quick and locked both players up to four year deals with Rafalski earning $11 million and Madden $7 million.

Those in the tinfoil hat club might say that this "clerical error" is Tallon's way of freeing up cap space for next summer when Patrick Kane(notes), Duncan Keith(notes), and Jonathan Toews(notes) all become RFA's. The cap hit of the "Chicago Six" was $5.5 million combined this past season. Both Versteeg and Barker weren't eligible for arbitration rights and likely received (or not) offers less than $1 million, keeping them on the roster for the upcoming season. Maybe if they all become UFA's, they'll be too rich for Tallon's blood, especially Barker and Calder Trophy finalist Versteeg?

And as Tim Sassone writes, Tallon is sounding like a man who's looking for a deal:

This is Hawks GM Dale Tallon talking Thursday afternoon: "We're looking for the right guy, maybe on the back end. We have a lot of assets we can trade."

This is how I believe the Hawks are going to find that big, physical defenseman they are lacking, via a trade, and Tallon came about as close as he could to confirming it.

The Hawks have a lot of forwards to offer around the league. I wouldn't be shocked if it was a scorer such as Patrick Sharp(notes) or Kris Versteeg that the Hawks at least explore dealing for that "right guy."

With a serious salary cap issue to deal with after next season, the Hawks can't keep everyone. Maybe it's Troy Brouwer they try to move. Dustin Byfuglien(notes) might have been a trade candidate before the playoffs, but you need that big body, and if he performs like he did in the postseason, then he is worth his $3 million salary.

Like Wysh properly noted on Thursday, Tallon will need to work a little magic as the summer of 2010 creeps up and he has enough moveable assets (Dustin Byfuglien) that room can be created for when three of Chicago's best players are all due raises a year from now.

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