Three keys to offseason: Chicago Blackhawks

Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane quickly formed one of the NHL's deadliest duos this season. The Blackhawks should try to keep this pair together by signing Panarin to a long-term deal. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks pushed the St. Louis Blues to the brink of elimination, but fell just short of another incredible comeback.

The result is a rarity in Chicago -- a long summer for the Blackhawks.

The truth is, the Blackhawks have earned this long break. If there’s any team that deserves a pass for a first-round exit, it’s these Blackhawks. The level of excellence they’ve achieved during the past six years is remarkable. And in the big picture, a summer to recharge isn’t the worst thing for guys such as Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, who have a lot of mileage on their bodies.

As always, the summer will be an interesting time of balancing the salary cap while returning next season improved. Here are three areas on which GM Stan Bowman should focus: