By Chris Emma–

(CBS) Entering this summer of change, the Blackhawks’ most crippling cap conundrum revolved around Brandon Saad and those contract negotiations. His deal with Chicago would make or break the rest of the roster, or so we thought.

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Sure, Saad said he might be willing to take a hometown discount, but making that reported $6.5 million at age 22 is even better. So in a stunning turn of events Tuesday afternoon, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman traded the rising star just shy of Wednesday’s start of free agency and added four forwards: Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp, each whom is ready to contribute.

Additionally, Bowman has more flexibility for his next steps.

“We’ve got a lot of options we can pursue now,” Bowman said.

What are those options? Let’s take a look at a few potential moves, plus what the trade means for the 2015-’16 Blackhawks.

1.) Sharp, Bickell can potentially stay

The original plan for Bowman was to first lock down Saad’s new contract — whatever the forward wanted, within cap-dictated reason — and then advance on with those next moves. With Saad gone and some cap room opened up, it’s possible that the Blackhawks can keep a player who would’ve otherwise been on the move. It seems as if Bowman’s attempts to trade Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million cap hit have been unsuccessful, so if that trend continues, the Blackhawks can realistically keep him on the cap, though it wouldn’t be beneficial.

The other option is for the Blackhawks to keep Bryan Bickell, whose $4 million contract looks like a mistake by Bowman from two summers ago. While Bickell has been a mixed bag throughout his two years under the new contract, his upside is reason to hold on for hopes of better.

If Bowman is stuck with either of these two big contracts and dwindling skill sets, the Blackhawks are stuck with the rest of their roster.

2.) Anisimov, Dano are important pickups

For Bowman, the alternative to a blockbuster trade was letting Saad walk and collecting three draft picks for 2016. That would bode well for the Blackhawks’ future, but this is a team in constant win-now mode — and rightfully so for the perennial Stanley Cup favorites.

The Blackhawks added Anisimov, a 27-year-old seemingly poised to become the long-term solution as a second-line center. For years, Chicago has struggled to find fit in the form of an anchor for the second line. Bowman admitted that he had been looking for some time to add Anisimov, and he fully plans to work out an extension beyond the upcoming final year of his deal.

In Dano, the Blackhawks brought in a promising 20-year-old who can either play center or a wing, depending on which coach Joel Quenneville prefers. He’s a dangerous scorer and talented skater who will make an immediate impact for Chicago. Morin and Tropp add depth, but Anisimov and Dano are impact players who, the hope is, make up for the loss of Saad.

More importantly, the Blackhawks replaced one key player with a four-man addition that’s cheaper ($5.633 million, pending a new deal for Anisimov) than Saad’s asking price of $6.5 million. Bowman won with this trade.

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3.) Center depth is bolstered

In 2014, the Los Angeles Kings set the example of Stanley Cup success with great depth in centers. The Blackhawks followed suit this season, namely with the trade-deadline acquisition of Antoine Vermette. Now, with Saad’s deal off the table, Bowman can consider greater depth at center.

While it’s likely that Vermette, 32, moves on to a bigger deal elsewhere, Chicago could negotiate a new discount deal for Brad Richards at around $2 million-$3 million. The newly added Anisimov is likely to be the second-line center if Richards moves on, but he would be a great addition on the third line if Richards stuck.

The Blackhawks are already in negotiations with Marcus Kruger, and he should sign a cap-friendly deal. In addition, Teuvo Teravainen appears to be ready for a move to center, but Dano could play the position, too. Rockford IceHogs standouts Phillip Danault and Mark McNeill could be poised to take over center roles as well. And returning players like Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Shaw offer options still.

Of course, there are all kind of new possibilities, too, and Bowman’s evaluations are certainly just beginning.

4.) Blackhawks can add a veteran defenseman

Lost in the departure of Saad was how the Blackhawks parted ways with promising rookie defenseman Michael Paliotta. So they could now look at adding a low-cost, veteran defenseman.

A weekend report connected the Blackhawks to longtime St. Louis Blues defenseman Barrett Jackman, a 34-year-old who could be a top-four guy in Chicago. Another name to watch, also from St. Louis, is 32-year-old Zbynek Michalek, who could sign at a lower cost.

The Blackhawks are safe at the blue line with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Stephen Johns and David Rundblad, but one more veteran addition would certainly be a nice boost.

5.) Bowman could oversign to create competition

By rule, the Blackhawks can go 10 percent — or, $7.14 million — over the hard cap into training camp. Because of that, Bowman has the option to fill up the roster for training camp and make important evaluations then.

After demanding a trade out of Chicago in December and getting sent to Columbus, Morin will be back at training camp looking to earn a spot on the roster. He may be battling with trade partner Tropp. Competition at center will be intriguing, as the Blackhawks can mix their versatility with young prospects like Danault and McNeill in training camp.

At the blue line, there will be battles between the newly extended Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey, likely to re-sign as well, and any defenseman added this offseason.

There’s plenty more to watch to watch this offseason. As Bowman said, everything’s on the table.

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Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.