Jonathan Toews

Toews admits Chicago’s cap crunch feels ‘a lot like 2010’

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Much like in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks are celebrating a triumphant Stanley Cup win. The unfortunate similarity seems to be that, with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane getting raises, key supporting cast members are likely out.

With the salary cap ceiling officially set at $71.4 million, that reality is even setting in for Toews, who shared this sobering comment during media availability heading into the 2015 NHL Awards.

“All of a sudden, it does feel a lot like 2010, where it’s imminent,” Toews said, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a way, it’s a metaphorical hangover from a Stanley Cup celebration … although Toews & Co. might still be recovering from (and creating new) literal ones.

As of this moment, General Fanager pegs Chicago’s cap space at about $7.35 million. That figure includes eight forwards, three defensemen and three goalies (Chicago has some breathing room with Scott Darling’s 2015-16 season being two-way). It also doesn’t include free agent concerns, which is certainly relevant with UFAs such as Johnny Oduya and RFAs including standout Brandon Saad.

Indeed, looking at this situation, it’s easy to see parallels from that first Toews-Kane-era Cup win, when the Blackhawks let Antti Niemi go following arbitration while being forced to trade away the likes of Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

Those losses hurt as the Blackhawks limped into the 2011 postseason, yet they obviously bounced back.

In case you’re wondering, GM Stan Bowman is currently gauging the value of trade pieces such as Patrick Sharp, as ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports.

LeBrun notes that Chicago would be willing to take salary back in potential moves, though only to a certain extent. Getting something done fast would grease the wheels, too:

What is preferable for the Blackhawks, however, is to make the deal happen before the draft, in a perfect world. That way they could recoup a draft pick, which is key given what they gave up from this year’s draft for Antoine Vermette (a first-round pick, 30th overall) and Kimmo Timonen (second-round pick, 61st overall). Mind you, the Blackhawks do have the 54th-overall selection, a compensatory pick for not signing 2010 pick Kevin Hayes.

In other words, it’s wise for Toews to realize that times are changing … because some big moves could be coming as soon as this week.

Here’s video from the Chicago-Sun Times:

Oddsmaker: Carey Price heavy favorite to win Hart Trophy

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The NHL Awards will be handed out on Wednesday and online bookmaker Bovada is predicting that it will be a very good night for goaltender Carey Price. They put the odds of him winning the Vezina Trophy at a staggering 1/100, which is actually to be expected given that he’s widely regarded as a lock to claim that award.

What is more noteworthy though is the 1/20 odds they’re giving to anyone that wants to pick Price as the Hart Trophy winner. Alex Ovechkin has 5/1 odds while John Tavares is at 10/1. Price was certainly regarded as a serious candidate for that award, but the clear favorite? As good as his season was, the league’s MVP award typically doesn’t go to a netminder, although it wouldn’t be surprising if Price proves to be one of the exceptions.

Keeping with the theme, Carey Price was also given the best odds to win the Ted Lindsay Award (2/7) over Ovechkin (5/2) and Jamie Benn (6/1).

Erik Karlsson is also favored to win his second Norris Trophy over P K Subban and Drew Doughty. Meanwhile Johnny Gaudreau is projected to win the Calder Trophy while Bob Hartley is the favorite for the Jack Adams Award.

You can see the complete list below:

Odds to win the 2015 Hart Memorial Trophy
Carey Price (MON) 1/20
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) 5/1
John Tavares (NYI) 10/1

Odds to win the 2015 Vezina Trophy
Carey Price (MON) 1/100
Pekka Rinne (NAS) 13/2
Devan Dubnyk (MIN) 11/1

Odds to win the 2015 James Norris Memorial Trophy
Erik Karlsson (OTT) 1/4
P K Subban (MON) 11/4
Drew Doughty (LA) 6/1

Odds to win the 2015 Calder Memorial Trophy
Johnny Gaudreau (CAL) 1/2
Aaron Ekblad (FLA) 7/4
Mark Stone (OTT) 5/1

Odds to win the 2015 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Anze Kopitar (LA) 5/11
Pavel Datsyuk (DET) 12/5
Jiri Hudler (CAL) 4/1

Odds to win the 2015 Frank J. Selke Trophy
Patrice Bergeron (BOS) 2/9
Jonathan Toews (CHI) 7/2
Anze Kopitar (LA) 5/1

Odds to win the 2015 Jack Adams Award
Bob Hartley (CAL) 2/11
Alain Vigneault (NYR) 4/1
Peter Laviolette (NSH) 5/1

Odds to win the 2015 Ted Lindsay Award
Carey Price (MON) 2/7
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) 5/2
Jamie Benn (DAL) 6/1

NHL reveals 2015-16 cap will be $71.4 million

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As projected, the NHL payroll ceiling will climb in 2015-16, but it won’t be by a lot. After a season that saw the Canadian dollar decline substantially against its American counterpart, the NHL cap has been set at $71.4 million, which puts the floor at $52.8 million.

That’s up from the 2014-15 ceiling of $69 million, but down from the December projection of $72 million to $74 million. The lower than initially expected cap has put a greater burden on a number of high spending NHL teams.

Chicago stands out as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will consume a combined $21 million worth of annual cap space starting next season. That’s sparked talks of the Blackhawks moving Patrick Sharp to stay compliant. The Boston Bruins are another team that is in for a tough summer, particularly with Dougie Hamilton in line for a substantial payday as a restricted free agent.

This is good news for teams like Arizona and the Buffalo Sabres though as they will be able to land talent that top teams might have otherwise not made available. The Coyotes in particular are noteworthy as they need to spend heavily just to reach the floor.

PHT Morning Skates: Stars weigh in on offensive decline, possible solutions

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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.

Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Ovechkin offered their thoughts on why we’ve seen a decline in scoring in the NHL since the cap era’s 2005-06 debut season and what might be done to help bolster the game offensively. (Toronto Sun)

For those interested in what could have been, here’s a look at the Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup champion memorabilia that never was. (The Hockey News)

While we’re on the subject of champions, here’s an interactive timeline of how the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks were built. (Puck Junk)

Should Buffalo Sabres fans temper their short-term expectations for Jack Eichel? (Buffalo News)

Tyler Seguin is set to be the 11th hockey player to be included in ESPN’s ‘Body Issue’. (TSN)

Here’s Puck Daddy’s Top 20 UFA list. (Puck Daddy)

UFA of the Day: Johnny Oduya

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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Johnny Oduya

One of the four workhorse defensemen for the Blackhawks, Oduya was a huge part of Chicago’s 2015 Stanley Cup run. The 33-year-old was on the ice more than Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and every other ‘Hawk forward. Besides goalie Corey Crawford, only Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson played more than Oduya did.

But Oduya also understands the situation. The Blackhawks are facing a cap crunch. There will be changes to the roster.

“We know the reality,” he said just before the finals. “This is what it is.”

It’s certainly not out of the question that GM Stan Bowman will try to shed salary in an attempt to re-sign Oduya. After all, we saw this past season how the loss of a top-four defenseman can impact a good team. The Bruins badly missed Johnny Boychuk. Ditto for the Kings with Slava Voynov.

And while it’s true the Blackhawks have some good, young defensemen in the organization, is there one they feel comfortable slotting into a top-four role? Currently, only Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson are under contract for next season.

Perhaps Mike Reilly’s decision will impact what the Blackhawks do with Oduya. Reilly, like Oduya, shoots left. But again, Reilly has never played in the NHL. Stephen Johns and Ville Pokka haven’t either. Trevor van Riemsdyk is still inexperienced.

To be sure, if the Blackhawks decide they can’t keep Oduya, there will be interest from other teams. The Colorado Avalanche, to name just one potential suitor, are looking for a left-shot D.

“It’s just one of those things where you really don’t know the answers, you don’t know the outcomes,” said Oduya.

But we’ll know soon.

Click here for more UFAs.