Two weeks after GM Stan Bowman said that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews would be in Chicago ‘forever,‘ owner Rocky Wirtz went ahead and echoed that statement.
“I do [think we can], because you always can work the budgets accordingly,” Wirtz told the Chicago Tribune about keeping Kane and Toews for life.
“I don’t see any reason they can’t be. We know we have a hard cap (and) we know we can work it.”
Kane and Toews are both set for unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the issue with 2016 is that Chicago already has $41 million committed to just seven players (Patrik Sharp, Marian Hossa, Bryan Bickell, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford).
In addition to Kane and Toews, will have to deal with RFAs Marcus Kruger, Nick Leddy and Calder Trophy nominee Brandon Saad, all of whom are up in ’16 as well.
There’s also the issue of Bowman’s post-Cup spending spree.
Eyebrows were raised when Chicago guaranteed Crawford $36 million (and extended him through his 35th birthday). While he silenced critics during the recent Stanley Cup run, Crawford has never appeared in more than 57 regular season games and spent last year in a timeshare with Ray Emery, who had 17 wins to Crawford’s 19.
(It’s also not like Chicago’s goaltending cupboard is bare — they used a second-round pick in 2010 to select WHL Everett’s Kent Simpson and signed Finnish league star Antti Raanta this summer.)
The Bickell deal (four years, $16 million) was another eyebrow-raiser, even though the power forward was in line for a raise on the $541,667 he made annually on his last deal. The 27-year-old, who averages 34 points a season and 12:39 TOI per game, cashed in on a successful playoff run and a relatively weak free agent market.
But whatever the case with Chicago’s current financial landscape, Wirtz remains confident it’ll have no bearing on keeping his core players in town — unlike in 2010, when the cap-strapped ‘Hawks won the Cup but then dealt away Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg, among others.
“We’re not going to do what we did in 2010: Wake up the next day and say you have to trade or move half your team,” Wirtz explained. “That’s not going to happen.
“That was something we did once and it’s something we’re not going to do again.”