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.

WATCH LIVE: Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild

Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (90) and Minnesota Wild right wing Justin Fontaine (14) chase the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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The Minnesota Wild hope to turn things around, yet facing the Dallas Stars certainly ratchets up the degree of difficulty.

On the other hand, sometimes that’s the best way to regain confidence: overcome an especially formidable obstacle.

Whether the Wild flounder or rebound, you can watch the action on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

After 8-1 loss to Isles, Oilers send Reinhart to AHL, make Schultz healthy scratch

Edmonton Oilers' Justin Schultz (19) and New York Rangers' Dominic Moore (28) fight for control of the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Not surprisingly, Edmonton’s 8-1 loss to the Islanders on Sunday didn’t pass without consequences.

The Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Griffin Reinhart had been sent down to the AHL. Additionally, defenseman Justin Schultz is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight in New Jersey.

Reinhart was a team-worst minus-4 versus the Isles.

Schultz, whose name has been coming up in trade rumors…

…was a minus-2.

“He needs to watch a game and reflect on his play and what his impact is offensively and defensively,” coach Todd McLellan told reporters of the decision to sit Schultz against the Devils.

Darnell Nurse and Adam Clendening, scratches in Brooklyn, will replace Reinhart and Schultz in the lineup.

Turris understands Drouin’s situation, says requesting trade out of Phoenix ‘saved’ him

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Kyle Turris was far from an accomplished NHLer when he requested a trade out of the Coyotes organization. In fact, when he was dealt to the Senators in 2011, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft had just 46 points in 137 NHL games.

Since then, Turris has emerged as Ottawa’s top center, with the promise of a big payday in the summer of 2018 when his current $17.5 million deal expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

It’s for that very reason that he can understand Jonathan Drouin‘s position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.”

Though Turris, now 26, took a “lot of heat from the media…and people within the organization” and recalls the time after his trade request was made public as a “tough, tough go,” he believes the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.

As we’ve written in the past, you don’t have to agree with how Drouin is handling things — maybe it ends up hurting him; he still has a lot to prove — but there have been young players who have chosen similar paths, and it’s worked out well for them.

Drouin, by the way, has 40 points in 89 NHL games.

Simmonds tells AV ‘I’m not a dirty player,’ says he had ‘no intention of hurting’ McDonagh with punch

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Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has taken exception to criticisms from Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, in the wake of Simmonds concussing Blueshirts captain Ryan McDonagh with a punch over the weekend.

“Vigneault can say whatever he wants. He’s the coach, that’s his opinion,” Simmonds said, per CSN Philly. “I don’t really care. I’m protecting myself; guy comes to cross check you in the head. I didn’t know what he expected. I had no intention of hurting him and I feel bad about that. That’s not what I want.

“I may play physical and I like to take the body. I fight occasionally. But by no means am I a dirty player, trying to run around and injure guys.”

Simmonds was tossed from Saturday’s game after punching McDonagh, but wasn’t suspended by the league. McDonagh missed New York’s next game — Monday’s 2-1 win over the Devils — and the lack of supplemental discipline incident irked Vigneault, who had words for both the officials and Simmonds.

“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said following the Flyers game, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences?”

At this point, it’s probably worth noting the Flyers and Rangers play each other on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Worth circling that one on the ol’ calendar, methinks.