Yup, the cap has finally caught up to them, and they have too many young players playing important spots. Ultimately though I wouldn't count the Hawks out for long, I could see them turning it back around next year with a smart trade or two and just the general development of some of the youngsters.
Also, this is what happens when the youngsters you have now are being drafted in the super late parts of the first round rather than the early parts (cough *kane cough *kane)
Yep, I'd never count them out as long as they have Kane, Toews, Seabrook, and Keith. They've had to trade away several young players that were due to make big money over the last 2-3 years... Like you said, if they made a smart trade instead of salary dump type trades, they'll be cup contenders again.