Brent Seabrook and Chicago officially agree to five year extension; Back to salary cap hell?

After the reports circled yesterday about Brent Seabrook being close to signing an extension with the Chicago Blackhawks, it became a reality today. Seabrook officially signed his five-year extension with Chicago today as the team made the announcement this afternoon.

While the Blackhawks didn’t release any details about the contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the deal is worth $29 million, good for a cap hit of $5.8 million per year for the next five seasons. If you’re thinking that’s a lot of cheese for Seabrook, you’re right. If you’re also thinking that it sounds like sketchy accounting for the Blackhawks and GM Stan Bowman, you’d be right again.

CapGeek.com shows that Chicago has just 12 players under contract for next season and those 12 account for more than $49 million against the cap. Approximately $23.5 million of that is now tied up with six defensemen. In case you forgot how things went down with Chicago after winning the Stanley Cup last season, they essentially had to gut their championship roster to get under the salary cap this season. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Antti Niemi, and Brent Sopel were all goners after last year for financial reasons.

Even with the salary cap being rumored to go up anywhere from $2-$3 million next season, that gives Chicago $12-$13 million in cap space to sign at least eight players. While we don’t want to doubt that Stan Bowman has a plan here, we can’t help but wonder if he’s just working with a really broken calculator when calculating his deals for players. Contracts for Brian Campbell, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, and Duncan Keith are all huge deals and weigh against the salary cap in huge ways. Granted these guys are all major contributors to the team, limiting your team to having little cap flexibility and no depth doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. As it is this season, the Blackhawks are fighting to just get in the playoffs at all.

Unless Bowman has a magic plan to get Brian Campbell’s cap number reduced or to get him off the team, it’s tough to imagine just what the Hawks will do in free agency in the off-season and in the years to come. We don’t feel sympathetic towards Chicago or Stan Bowman, they got their prize last year. Now we’re eager to see just what happens next with the team to see how they get themselves out of yet another self-made mess.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (NHL.com)

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.