Toews, Kane hit bonuses; Blackhawks over the salary cap by millions


Kane8.jpgYou have to give Dale Tallon credit. He was given free reign to do
whatever was needed to build a Stanley Cup champion and that’s exactly
what he did. He may not have been able to stick with the team due to an
inability to work a fax machine, but he was able to bring a Cup back to
the city after a very, very long time.

Now comes the hardest part
of all: keeping this team together.

We’ve chronicled in the past
how the Blackhawks will be facing salary cap hell next season, but until
now we didn’t realize just how bad things were. Even with the cap
jumping up next season, we were under the impression that the Hawks
would be right up against the cap; instead, the Hawks are actually over
the cap already.

By $4 million. With only 14 players under
contract next season.

Why so much over? Turns out that Patrick
Kane and Jonathan Toews hit on all over their entry-level bonuses this
past season. With the Hawks already hard up against the cap for this
season, the “excess” goes against next year’s cap. From
James Mirtle:

‘A’ Performance Bonuses, meanwhile, are things like number of goals,
assists and points, targets that are set by teams, players and their
agents when the contract is signed and that max out at $850,000 a

Both players maxed out all of their ‘A’ and ‘B’ bonuses this year to
push their team over the cap, meaning that while every other team will
be working with about a $58.5-million cap next season, Chicago’s cap
“penalty” will mean a ceiling of closer to $54.5-million.

The good news is, I guess, that most of the players entering RFA or
UFA status this summer were just role players for the Hawks during their
Stanley Cup run. Then you have players such as Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager,
Niklas Hjalmarsson and Antti Niemi all set to become RFA’s this summer;
those are players you would think the Hawks will want to keep.

But how?

As of right now, the Blackhawks have no ability whatsoever to sign
any more players. They’ll either have to restructure contracts or move
some players in order to free up cap space; then they’ll be lucky to be
able to fill out the rest of the roster with players getting the league

The core of the Blackhawks will remain in tact, and I don’t believe
fans will have to worry about this team being blown up just as soon as
they reach the pinnacle of greatness. But expect this team to look very
different next season. Players like Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dave
Bolland, and even Brian Campbell could be moved this summer in order to
get the Hawks back where they need to be. [Update: Forget Brian Campbell – he has a NTC.]

That still leaves several RFA players to be signed as well, and you wonder if even moving some of those named above will be enough. You know the Blackhawks want to keep Niemi, but how will they be able to afford it?

Stan Bowman, come on down.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli
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It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take that Netflix-and-chill approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.

Video: Flyers lose Schultz after big hit from McIlrath


It looks like the injury bug has taken another chunk out of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers, who are already without Mark Streit, Ryan White and R.J. Umberger, have now lost Nick Schultz to injury.

Schultz left Saturday’s game against the Rangers in the first period after taking a hit from Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn went after McIlrath right after he delivered the hit and both players dropped the gloves.

Schultz did not return.

You can watch the entire sequence by clicking on the video at the top of the page.

The 33-year-old has just one assist in 23 games, but he leads the Flyers in blocked shots with 54.

Goalie nods: Bernier has a ‘huge’ opportunity to prove himself vs. Caps

Jonathan Bernier
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Jonathan Bernier hasn’t been very good in ’15-16, but he’ll have a great opportunity to right the ship on Saturday night.

Facing the Washington Capitals is never an easy task if you’re a goaltender, of course, but Bernier can’t afford to be picky with his chances.

The 27-year-old is still looking for his first win of the season, as he has an overall record of 0-7-1. His 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage are just as bad as his record.

Starter James Reimer is out tonight after suffering an injury in practice and although Bernier probably can’t win the starting job with just one good game, a solid performance would go a long way.

He’ll go head-to-head with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.


Cory Schneider will face the Habs for the second time in two nights. The Canadiens will do the same with Mike Condon. Montreal beat New Jersey, 3-2, in a shootout on Friday.

-The Islanders have yet to confirm a starter, but they’ll likely go up against Ben Bishop on Saturday night.

-Expect Linus Ullmark to go up against Pekka Rinne when the Sabres and Predators clash in Nashville. Rinne is on a season-high four-game losing streak.

-The Oilers may turn to Anders Nilsson against the Penguins. Pittsburgh will decide between giving Marc-Andre Fleury two starts in two nights or going with Jeff Zatkoff.

-The Stars, like Pittsburgh, will have to decide if they want to give Antti Niemi a second game in two nights. They will be going up against Darcy Kuemper, who will be making just his second start of the season.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. He was solid in a 2-1 OT win over the Penguins on Friday night. The Blues will counter with starter Jake Allen.

-The Jets have yet to confirm a starter in Denver. They’ll be going up against Semyon Varlamov, who was pulled in Wednesday’s game against Ottawa after he allowed three goals on 15 shots.

Craig Anderson will look to win his fifth straight game when the Senators take on Arizona. The ‘Yotes still haven’t named a starter.

Jonas Hiller is likely to get the start against San Jose, while the Sharks will definitely be countering with starter Martin Jones. The Sharks goaltender is coming off a loss to the ‘Hawks, but previously won five in a row.

Scott Darling will put his 2-2-1 record on the line against the Kings. Jonathan Quick will probably be between the pipes for the Kings. Quick has a 7-15-1 record against the ‘Hawks in his career.