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article imageOp-Ed: Working Against The Cap, Who Can the Blackhawks Afford To Keep?

By Dustin Pollack     Sep 17, 2009 in Sports
The NHL salary cap has been slightly increased for the 2009-2010 season from $56.7 million to $56.8 million. This came as no surprise to some general managers around the league, including Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke.
In an interview with a New Jersey newspaper in May, Burke said he’d be shocked if the cap didn’t drop a couple million dollars this season.
However, general managers across the league are more concerned with the effect the economy will play on next years salary cap, with rumors swirling of the cap dropping significantly next season, possibly to 50 million dollars.
Since 2005 the salary cap has gone up significantly each year allowing teams to have some wiggle room to make off-season acquisitions, however a drastic fall in the cap could catch teams off guard and could be a thorn in their side in trying to build a consistently competitive franchise.
One team in particular that worries me is the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks are a team that resurged themselves this past season led my offensive young guns, Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews, making the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and marching all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in five games.
In the off-season the Blackhawks signed offensive forward Marian Hossa to a monster 12-year deal as well as Tomas Kopecky from the Red Wings and John Madden from the New Jersey Devils to short term contracts.
The Blackhawks are four million dollars over the salary cap going into the 2009-2010 season but that isn’t quite what worries me. It’s that as of now there cap hit for 2010-2011 is already estimated at 42.5 million.
And that’s with 10 free agents including stars Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews. Luckily for Chicago Toews and Kane are still under rookie contracts which pay them $875,000 each this season otherwise the Hawks cap hit this season would be in the high sixties.
My point is that Toews and Kane’s rookie contracts expire come July 1st 2010 and if they both live up to the obvious on ice expectations this season odds are they are going to want deals which pay them upwards of four million dollars a piece.
That would make the Hawks cap hit higher then the possible 50 million dollar cap of 2010-2011. Leaving them with eight free agents including a backbone defenseman Duncan Keith who only makes 1.9 million this season, playmaker Andrew Ladd, role players John Madden, Ben Eager and Adam Burish and other roster fillers on forward, defense and between the pipes with very little to no cap space to sign them all.
And knowing Patrick Kane he’ll fight for every penny he can get… literally. Good luck Stan Bowman.
On a side note: Patrick Sharp and Dustin Byfuglien are two names that are making at least three million dollars come the 2010-2011 season. Bowman may have to move these to in order to open up some space to sign Kane and Toews.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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