Blackhawks Superstars Come At A Cost
by Josh Birkhead
When the news was released that the Chicago Blackhawks had resigned Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the fans couldn’t be more excited or expectant. The 2006 and 2007 1st round picks are here to stay, but at a cost: 8 years at $10.5 million each per season.
With such a high cap hit you do get two of the best players in the league, but leave GM Stan Bowman very little manoeuvrability for building a team around them. On a team envied by so many it is very difficult to pay everyone what they deserve. Hossa, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, all could be star players for other suitors around the league.
And most pressing for Bowman is the need to resign Brandon Saad; he deserves to get paid after posting 3 goals and 9 assists in just 18 games and like so many Blackhawks an eye for the net in the postseason. Fans could not comprehend him hitting the open market as he would be snapped up on the first day of free agency, but can the ‘Hawks afford to keep him around?
If rumours are to be believed the NHL salary cap will rise to $75 million. This would leave the hawks $7.75 million to resign their remaining restricted free agents (Kruger, Saad and Rundblad) and their unrestricted free agents (Richards, Oduya, Rozival and Regin). Unfortunately there are going to be casualties.
The aforementioned Saad simply needs re-signing; he will be fundamental to the Blackhawks plans and could be seen as a stalwart in the wing position. His ability to share the puck with his line mates is at times a thing of beauty.
Marcus Kruger, the young centre from Sweden, could well be pulling on a different jersey next year. The ‘Hawks have suffered at centre for depth over the last few years but the bargain of the century in Brad Richards has filled that void nicely, and with the continued development of Teuvo Teravainen the Centre position could be becoming clogged. This makes Kruger a disposable asset for cap purposes.
Brad Richards, the 34 year old Centre from Canada, has been quite the find, signing this offseason from NY Rangers. If he can be re-signed for similar money next year then he is a must for Bowman’s wish list.
Peter Regin – aka, the next casualty. Unfortunately for him, he could be for the chop come the end of the season. After recently being sent to the development team (the Ice Hogs) he is certainly struggling for time in Coach Q’s rotation.
Johnny Oduya is not by any stretch the best defencemen in the league but he is important to this Blackhawks team. With the loss of Nick Leddy to the Islanders to help get the team compliant with the cap limit, his value to the team has risen. If the team were to let him go they would have to pick up a defencemen out of free agency regardless, so it may be in their best interest to discuss contracts with a player who may offer a discount to stay with a contender and a player who knows his role and how to play on his respective line.
Overall this team is going to contend just because of how amazing Kane and Toews are, and it all depends on how their young studs develop over this season but one thing is for sure -they can’t afford to have as many names as they do now.
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