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Bowman: Hawks cap compliant, ready for season

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman assured everyone his team was salary-cap compliant after he submitted the season-opening roster to the NHL on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of questions,” Bowman said. “I don’t know why that is. We’re under the cap, and the league’s approved it. We’re ready to go.”

The Blackhawks’ season-opening roster is set with 23 players: 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders. The Blackhawks placed forward Brandon Mashinter on the injured reserve Tuesday, so his salary won’t count against the cap.

Bowman said the Blackhawks were about $100,000 under the cap, and that included a $60,000 bonus overage penalty from the past season.

“We’re very close,” Bowman said. “Probably within $100,000 of the cap, but we’re close.”

The Blackhawks spent most of the offseason over the cap after they signed Brad Richards to a one-year, $2 million contract in July. They were about $1.2 million over the cap until Saturday, when they traded defenseman Nick Leddy, who had a $2.7 million cap hit. By moving Leddy, the Blackhawks were able to fit defensemen Kyle Cumiskey and Trevor van Riemsdyk onto their NHL roster and carry eight defensemen into the season opener.

Bowman said he was never worried about getting under the cap before Tuesday’s deadline. The Blackhawks could have faced a number of penalties, including forfeiting games, if they weren’t cap compliant.

“We knew we’d get something done," Bowman said. "There were a lot of options, but it was never an option to not be cap compliant. We had to work that out. Probably half the teams in the league are similar to us; we’re not unique in that circumstance. But it’s not something we’re fixated on. It’s the system we play under, and we’ll do our best to be successful under the system.”

Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said Tuesday he wasn’t concerned, either, about whether Bowman would get the job done.

“He had his plan,” Wirtz said. “He knew he was fine. There have been a lot of reports about different cap numbers, but he had it down to the gnat’s ass.”

Bowman believes the Blackhawks possess a roster capable of making another run at the Stanley Cup.

"Yeah, that’s the goal, right?" Bowman said. "There’s a lot that has to go your way, and it’s a long season. Hopefully Thursday it’s the start of a long stretch of games for us leading into the summertime. [But] you can't get too far ahead.

"Obviously, that’s your goal when you start the year: to win the Cup. But you have to focus on some things in the intermediate, and for us, that’s a good start. We need the guys who were here last year to raise their level of play. A lot of our guys are still in the prime of their careers or haven’t reached their best games, so we expect them to come out of the gate strong. Of the new faces we have, we want them to fit in and contribute. We’re excited."