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

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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
season.

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
minimum.

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.

Video: Oshie’s sweet dish sets up a nice Backstrom goal for Capitals

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There’s time for the Pittsburgh Penguins to flip the scrip, but so far on Monday, it looks like the patterns continue to go the Washington Capitals’ way.

The Caps are aiming for a 10th straight win (and Pittsburgh’s fourth consecutive loss) after taking a 2-0 lead through the first period.

The strong play of Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie stands as one of the reasons why Washington has been blazing such an impressive path, and they combined for a really nice goal to give their team that added cushion. Both Oshie’s pass and Backstrom’s goal are impressive in the clip above.

Also, here’s the Andre Burakovsky goal that began the scoring:

And, just for the heck of it:

Shane Doan isn’t asking to be traded by Coyotes, but isn’t saying no either

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15:  Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Coyotes defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Imagine, for a second, Shane Doan wearing another team’s jersey. Apparently it’s not out of the question.

During the weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Doan would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right situation. Despite his 1,500+ games with the Jets/Coyotes, Doan responded mostly in the affirmative to NHL.com, although the rugged forward notes that it would take a “perfect” scenario to make everything work.

(He said that he hasn’t been asked to waive his no-trade clause … but he might be open to suggestion.)

“I’d talk about it with my family and make a decision on that if it was to come up but it would have to be so perfect and so right that it’s pretty hard for it to all line up perfectly,” Doan said. “It would have to be exactly perfect and that just doesn’t happen too often in our sport.”

The 40-year-old interestingly notes that the discussion has come up before, only word hasn’t surfaced in reports. He even said that there were times when he gave his approval, although in most cases, his answer was “No.”

What is perfect?

What’s the perfect situation? That’s where things are fuzzier, as Doan explains that picking a “contender” can be a little trickier when you consider where, say, the Penguins and Sharks were around this time last year.

Doan says family matters, yet he also seems somewhat flexible in that area. After all, it might just be for a few months as a “rental.”

Measuring his value

On the other end, of course, you must also wonder who will want him.

The pluses are easy to see: he’s big, physical and checks off a ton of the “intangibles” boxes. Chances are, a perspective team would weigh his 28 goals from 2015-16 more heavily than his mere 12 points in 42 games this season.

That said, at his age, and considering his numbers this season, there’s the obvious question regarding how much he has left in the tank.

Then again, if the price is reasonable – and the Coyotes certainly are looking to sell off expiring contracts – then it could make for an interesting situation.

If anything happens at all.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11:  Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals and Carl Hagelin #62 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fight in the third period at Verizon Center on January 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Last time, the Washington Capitals were just a little hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning the game as Alex Ovechkin crossed the 1,000-point threshold.

A week or so later, the Capitals are still red-hot while the Penguins are waddling through some uncertainty. Pittsburgh aims to end a three-game losing streak while the Caps hope to get their 10th win in a row on Monday night.

You can check out the action on NBCSN, watch online and also via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.

Watch Jonathan Drouin’s assist of the year candidate

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 29:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in action against the New Jersey Devils during their game at the Prudential Center on October 29, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Jonathan Drouin‘s been playing some of his best hockey of late, with five points in his last four contests.

He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, either.

This is Drouin’s effort from today’s Lightning-Kings game at Staples, setting up Tyler Johnson to even the score at one late in the first period:

Not bad. Tanner Pearson may still be looking for his protective undergarment.

Little has gone right for Tampa Bay lately — or this season, to be honest — but Drouin could be on the verge of changing that. He was terrific in December, with eight goals and 15 points in 13 games, and appears to have carried that form over to the new year. He’s been a point-a-game guy in January, a trend that continued this afternoon.