Qualifying offers were due at 4 p.m. CT Monday and Dowell is the lone Hawks' restricted free agent not to be qualified.
Qualifying a player guarantees the Hawks the right of first refusal and compensation if another team makes an offer to the player starting on Friday. It also ties the player to the club for one year with a potential raise using a formula based on the previous year's salary. Dowell, 26, made $550,000 in 2010-11. If he had been qualified he would be due a 10 percent raise.
The sides can still work out a short or long term deal in the meantime and Sheehy says a return to the Hawks as an unrestricted free agent is still a possibility.
As an unrestricted free agent on July 1, Dowell can sign with any team, including the Hawks. They made a similar move with defenseman Jordan Hendry last summer as he re-signed with the team for one year. Dowell played in 79 regular season games but only two of seven postseason contests. He had six goals and 15 assists but didn't score in his final 27 games of the year, including playoffs. Dowell led the Hawks with nine fighting majors.
The Hawks have three other restricted free agents: Michael Frolik, Chris Campoli and Viktor Stalberg. All three have been qualified, according to league sources. General manager Stan Bowman reiterated this past weekend, at the NHL draft, negotiating deals for his restricted free agents would be a priority beginning this week.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.