Tag: Sidney Crosby

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane

Have we seen the Blackhawks at their highest point?


The Chicago Blackhawks have already been named as an early favorite to win the 2016 championship. That would be their fourth in seven years.

As good as the Blackhawks have been, with Patrick Kane just 26 years old and Jonathan Toews only two months removed from his 27th birthday, is it really a stretch to say that Chicago’s run has plenty of strong years left in it? Maybe not, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion.

The single biggest roadblock at this point is the Blackhawks’ cap situation. In the short-term, Chicago is likely going to have to make some sacrifices as it has about $64 million committed to 14 players, per General Fanager.

That’s not including 22-year-old Brandon Saad, who has now completed his entry-level contract and is in line for a considerable raise. Chicago also has to prepare for the fact that Brent Seabrook, who only has one year left on his contract, will likely demand more than his current $5.8 million annual cap hit.

Perhaps Patrick Sharp will be moved to give the Blackhawks the flexibility that they need. Maybe Chicago will find a way to keep him, although doing so would likely come at the expense of the Blackhawks’ depth.

Which brings us to the other part of their cap situation. While Kane and Toews just demonstrated once again — as if further proof was required — why Chicago had to re-sign them at any cost, in the salary cap era it’s the team that gets the best value that has the edge. Having Kane and Toews at $6.5 million cap hits each was a big part of the Blackhawks’ strength as it allowed them to support a rather large core, making the burden on the supporting cast somewhat less. The duo will continue to be enviable players, but their days of being under market value are over.

Now Chicago might find itself in a similar situation to Pittsburgh, which has struggled to build around Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby since they starting making what they’re worth (when the Penguins won the Cup, Malkin was still on his entry-level contract).

Then there’s the matter of Marian Hossa, who has had a tremendous career, but will be 37 in January. He nevertheless comes with a roughly $5.3 million annual cap hit through 2020-21. If Sharp gets traded away and Hossa declines, then suddenly Chicago starts to look a little thin offensively after Kane and Toews.

That’s not to suggest that Chicago’s decline is inevitable. Just because Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to make its cap situation work doesn’t mean that Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman can’t. After all, he’s been dealing with ceiling issues since he took over and they’ve stayed competitive. In part that’s because they’ve been able to draft and develop talent like Saad to help fill the gaps while keeping costs down. It’s also possible that Hossa has several good years left in him.

The salary cap by its nature pushes great teams down. Chicago has been remarkable in its ability to work around it. Time will tell if the Blackhawks will eventually succumb.

source: AP
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane

Dupuis recommended medication ‘that will allow him to play’

Pascal Dupuis

Pascal Dupuis’ future has been uncertain since Nov. 19 when he was diagnosed with a blood clot on his lung, but now the road ahead of him is coming into focus. In addition to working out, he’s been given the green light to start taking contact.

“The blood clot has dissolved, and the doctors have recommended a blood thinner medication that will allow him to play,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said, per the team’s website. “It’s a big step forward for Pascal, and we’re all excited for him.”

Dupuis last played on Nov. 15 due to his condition. He had six goals and 11 points in 16 contests prior to being shutdown. His return would help firm up the Penguins’ top-six as he can be slotted into either Sidney Crosby’s or Evgeni Malkin’s line.

His absence has been felt by the Penguins in each of the last two campaigns as he didn’t play past Dec. 23 during 2013-14 because of a knee injury.

PHT Morning Skate: (Video) Vince Vaughn’s passionate about Blackhawks

Vince Vaughn

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.

Vince Vaughn recently spoke about his love for the Blackhawks and, prior to Game 4, why he thinks Chicago will ultimately win this series:

Scott Gomez talks about one of his first practices with the Devils and his unusual introduction to Ken Daneyko. The story is then retold from Daneyko’s point of view. Be warned that there’s strong language in this piece. (The Players’ Tribune)

The Kelly Cup Final is going to Game 7. (ECHL.com)

Just to highlight the sky high expectations being thrust on Connor McDavid, this picture of him with Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky has taken off:

Gretzky also recently talked about McDavid, saying that he’d “be the first guy to shake his hand if he breaks my records.” (Canadian Press)

Two Catholic leaders have put a wager on the Stanley Cup Final. (NBC Chicago)

Would Pittsburgh really make a play for Brandon Saad? (Updated)

Daniel Sedin Sheldon Brookbank

CHICAGO — At the moment, Brandon Saad is a key part of a Chicago Blackhawks team looking to win its third Stanley Cup in the last six seasons.

Not long from now, though, Saad will be something else — a restricted free agent.

And that has people talking.

On TSN’s Insider Trading yesterday, Pierre LeBrun offered this nugget (transcript courtesy Today’s Slapshot):

[Saad’s] a guy you’ve heard his name attached to offer sheets maybe because the Hawks have all of these salary cap problems. I’ll tell you this. I know this. He’s a Pittsburgh native and the Penguins do have interest. What a splash that would make. They need a top-6 winger.

I don’t think that Brandon Saad is going anywhere. The Blackhawks covet him way too much. But it’s worth noting, the Penguins like the player.

There’s also this, from DK on Pittsburgh Sports’ Josh Yohe:

[Penguins GM] Jim Rutherford can’t comment on other teams’ players because of NHL tampering rules, but I mentioned Saad as an example when posing a general question to the Penguins’ GM about pursuing restricted free agents.

He isn’t against it.

“Let me say this about restricted free agents out there: We’ll always play within the rules,” Rutherford said. “If there is a situation that comes up, we’ll think about it.

“As long as it’s OK under the CBA, if there’s a player out there that we think can make us better, we won’t be afraid to consider making an offer.”

Now before we go too deep here, remember — offer sheets are rarely signed (Brough broke down the reasons why quite thoroughly last week.) It also seems really, really unlikely Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman would let his prized youngster go under any circumstances; last week, Bowman flatly told the Chicago Tribune he’ll get Saad signed.

But it’s easy to see why there’s smoke around Saad-to-Pittsburgh.

As mentioned above, there’s the hometown connection. The Pens are also always on the lookout for wingers to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the 22-year-old Saad, a blossoming star that scored a career-high 23 goals this year, would be more of a long-term solution (rather than some of the short-term fixes the club tried previously.)

And then there’s Chicago’s financial future.

How much can the ‘Hawks afford to pay Saad? Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews start pulling down $10 million cap hits next year and Bowman has his eye on an extension for Brent Seabrook, who’s unrestricted after next season. On the RFA front, Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom need new deals this year, and Andrew Shaw the next.

Now remember — for all this talk about how an offer sheet would make sense, it just doesn’t happen all that often. The last one signed was in 2013 (Ryan O’Reilly with Calgary) and the last player to actually leave via the offer sheet?

Eight years ago. When Dustin Penner bolted Anaheim to join the Oilers.

Update: It’s worth noting that, because of the Daniel Winnik trade at this year’s deadline, Pittsburgh doesn’t own its own second-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — which they’d all but assuredly need to sign Saad to an offer sheet. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of acquiring him via trade (or, trading with Toronto to get the pick back), but it does put the rumors in a different light.

Report: Malkin’s agent, J.P. Barry, responds to trade speculation, trying to ‘ignore’ rumors


Evgeni Malkin has suddenly found himself in the midst of trade speculation, which has prompted his agent, J.P. Barry, to reportedly respond on Friday to the rumors flowing out there.

This certainly isn’t the first time Malkin’s name has been out there, circulating the rumor mill.

In fact, as recently as late-April, when the Penguins were ousted in the first round of the playoffs, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman put out there that Pittsburgh needed to think about trading the 28-year-old Malkin.

Prior to that, Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse said there was no interest from the club in breaking up Sidney Crosby and Malkin.