Warning: Vultures about to circle

Just hours before the Blackhawks took on the Flyers in Game 3 here Wednesday night, the league’s general managers met in a downtown hotel and then raced to the Wachovia Center to watch the Stanley Cup Finals.

They discussed, of course, toughening penalties on head shots, and pondered other rules like the idiotic trapezoid, and the popular shootout that’s become much more prevalent than they imagined.

“We never thought there would be this many,” said Toronto GM Brian Burke. “The fans like it and we’re glad the fans like it, but it’s a skill game not a hockey game.

“The number is going up every year and I don’t know how to bring that number down. Maybe it’s a longer overtime or going to 3-on-3 if there’s no score (in the) 4-on-4.

“But I think a lot of us agree the number is too high.”

Those discussions were the sideshow to the talks involving trades and free agency, setting the table for what’s certain to be an interesting summer.

And at the center of it all are the Hawks and their cap problems, and a defenseman named Niklas Hjalmarsson.

The vultures are swarming and there’s a lot of talk about players that might be available, like Kris Versteeg (two more years at $3 million per) and Patrick Sharp (two years at $4.1 million per).

Before the playoffs, Dave Bolland (four years at $3.3 million per) was a candidate, but now that he’s healthy, he’s proven again he can be a spectacular defensive center in the postseason while contributing offensively. Bolland isn’t going anywhere.

Which brings us to Dustin Byfuglien , who has a year left at $3 million and then becomes a restricted free agent.

After another ugly regular season, Byfuglien has become a postseason star due to his ability to camp out in front.

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