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Martin Havlat

Martin Havlat

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Blackhawks' focus turns to free agencyComments June 30, 2009 BY LEN ZIEHM [email protected] Making selections in the NHL entry draft that concluded Saturday was an easy task for Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon compared to what awaits him in the next few days.Martin Havlat, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sammy Pahlsson and Matt Walker are unrestricted free agents.

They're free to sign with any other team when the free-agent signing period begins at 11 a.m.

Wednesday.� Click to enlarge imageMaking selections in the NHL entry draft, which concluded Saturday, was an easy task for Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon compared to what awaits him in the next few days.

(AP)If Tallon can't sign Havlat, the Hawks' leading scorer last season, he could acquire one of another team's unrestricted free agents.

They include Detroit's Marian Hossa, Minnesota's Marian Gaborik, Calgary's Mike Cammalleri, Montreal's Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay, the New York Rangers' Nik Antropov, New Jersey's Brian Gionta and Philadelphia's Mike Knuble.The Hawks reportedly took care of one of their restricted free agents, signing center David Bolland to a five-year deal worth $16.875 million, according to TSN.

A year ago, Tallon was the biggest player among the GMs in free agency, signing defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year, $56.8 million contact and goaltender Cristobal Huet to a four-year, $22.5 million deal.

Tallon doesn't figure to be as aggressive, but that could change if Havlat doesn't sign.''I don't know what will happen.

No one can tell,'' Tallon said.

''We just have to be ready to improvise.''In a Twitter message this week, Havlat said, ''Everyone should know I'm only interested in signing with Chicago.

It's where I want to be.''Tallon wants to sign him, too, but the clock is ticking.

Tallon had talks with representatives of both Havlat and Khabibulin while in Montreal for the draft.The Hawks' other restricted free agents include Cam Barker, Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Aaron Johnson and Kris Versteeg.

Other teams can make offers to them, but the Hawks can match them to retain their services.''We're constantly negotiating with everyone -- restricted and unrestricted.

We want to bring this team back,'' Tallon said.He has basically the same amount of money to work with as he had before last season.

The NHL and the players association increased the salary cap by only $100,000, to $56.8 million.,CST-SPT-hawk30.article
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