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.
I asked Jonathan Toews if the Cup party had finally quieted down a bit. "Well, we’re in Vegas. So you do the math on that one." #Blackhawks
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.
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.
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.
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.
NHL/NHLPA utilizing full 5 percent growth factor to get to $71.4 million. Some speculation it might be less than that.