Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews

Focus in Chicago turns to Kane, Toews’ contracts


The Chicago Blackhawks weren’t able to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for a third time in five years, but they have to feel very good about the team they’ve assembled. They’re still relatively young, deep, and most of their key players under control for at least a couple more seasons — with two notable exceptions.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will both become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2015.

It would be shocking if Kane and Toews didn’t re-sign with Chicago. In fact, it would be eyebrow raising if their extensions weren’t announced by the end of the summer. The bigger question is what kind of raise they’ll demand from their respective annual cap hits of $6.3 million.

Toews and Kane are both elite forwards and clutch performers that can basically name their price, but it isn’t that simple in the salary cap era, especially now that the new CBA killed the old model of signing superstars to heavily frontloaded long-term deals that kept their cap hits down (read: Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith).

Since the new rules came into effect, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Evgeni Malkin, and Claude Giroux have all signed contracts with annual cap hits in the range of $8.25 million to $9.5 million. If Kane and Toews demanded something in that ballpark, the Blackhawks would probably concede. Theoretically, they could try asking for more under the assumption that the salary cap will continue to climb at a healthy pace.

At some point though, it becomes an issue. Pittsburgh has dedicated $18.2 million annually to Malkin and Sidney Crosby and the team hasn’t lived up to expectations in recent years, arguably due to a lack of depth.

Carrying players with high cap hits can be problematic, even if their play seemingly justifies the cost. Of the top 10 cap hit players in 2013-14, only one made it to the conference finals (Rick Nash). That number balloons to four in the top-20, but that’s counting Marian Gaborik and Thomas Vanek, who were trade acquisitions and therefore not the full cap responsibility of Los Angeles and Montreal respectively.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what Kane and Toews demand.

Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.