Chicago can finally rejoice knowing that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have received contract extensions through the 2022-2023 season. Their contracts next year; however, will take up 30 percent of the salary cap making over $10 million per year meaning that changes may be made to this group that has flirted with the word “dynasty” for a couple seasons now.
Kane and Toews are both centerpieces for the future of the Chicago Blackhawks. Both in their mid-twenties, this means they will also be leading the next generation of Blackhawks like phenom center Teuvo Teravainen.
A few names have been thrown around in trade rumors to clear up cap space, but only a select few are realistic.
Two players that have a slim chance of being traded are wings Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg. Bryan Bickell was given a 4 year $16 million deal after the Hawks won the cup in 2013.
Bickell disappointed many Hawks fans last season with a measly 16 points and a -6 plus/minus rating. Although he is a big body that does show up in the playoffs, $4 million per year is just way too much for Bickell, and everybody knows that, making it difficult to ship him somewhere else.
Versteeg is another player with the same issue. Lingering knee problems have hindered him from being the player that he was back in the 2010 Stanley Cup run in Chicago. “Steeger” has a cap hit of $4.4 million until the 2015-2016 season. After his trade from the Florida Panthers early in the season, it seemed as though Versteeg had his wheels back. The playoffs were a different story. Versteeg finished his stint with the Hawks with 29 points and a +9 rating in 63 games wearing the Indian Head. Versteeg’s production took a serious downward spiral in the playoffs with a measly 3 points and a -5 rating in 15 games. He looked to slow down a little bit being caught out of position more than a few times especially against the Los Angeles Kings. Versteeg is a player with high risk and not much of a reward. There are 29 other teams in the league that know this, and that would make moving Versteeg that much tougher.
There is one player that has a better chance of being traded after next season. The Chicago faithful is probably sick of hearing this, but it’s the wing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Patrick Sharp.
Sharp has come off one of the best seasons of his career, leading the Hawks in goals this year with 34. The Hawks received “Sharpie” basically as a gift from the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2005 for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick in the next year’s draft. Sharp has become one of the most reliable players in the NHL and can be traded with high return. A cap hit of nearly $6 million until 2016-2017 is one of the biggest reasons the Hawks are using Sharp as trade bait. Both Sharp’s agent and Stan Bowman have stated that the 32-year-old isn’t going anywhere, but we’ll have to see how true that really is.
With this big signing for two of the Hawks’ main parts of the franchise could lead to big changes. The changes may be necessary in order to keep arguably the best captain and the player with the best hands since Pavel Datsyuk in Chicago. Some of the players tossed around in trade rumors are not safe, but also not likely to go. Unless Stan Bowman really has something up his sleeve (like it always seems) it could be Patrick Sharp packing his bags.