Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman conceded that the team would need to make changes if the Canadian dollar doesn’t rise compared to its American counterpart over the coming months, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Why? Because a weak Canadian dollar could prevent the cap from going up from its current level of roughly $69 million for the 2015-16 campaign, as the New York Post noted earlier this month. There were previous expectations that the cap would go up by as much as $6 million.
That would be problematic for a lot of teams, but Chicago would be one of the hardest hit as they already have about $66 million committed to 15 players next season after signing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to matching eight-year, $84 million contracts.
They still need to re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger, but even putting that aside, it’s easy to see that Chicago will be in a very tough situation if the cap remains stagnant.
“Obviously, if the cap doesn’t go up and we keep the exact same team, no, that wouldn’t work,” Bowman said. “You get into all of these hypotheticals, ‘well, if you keep this guy that means you can’t keep that guy.’ I’m not sure that’s a productive endeavor. I look at our team and we’ve always been able to figure it out in the past and we’ve had a pretty good run of stability. We’re looking to try to do that as much as possible.”
It’s true, this wouldn’t be the first time Bowman would be forced to address major cap problems surrounding the Blackhawks. Chicago had to trade off much of its supporting cast in the summer of 2010 after winning the Stanley Cup, but while the Blackhawks bounced back from that quickly, it’s not an ideal scenario to repeat.
Regardless of what happens, Bowman stands by his decision to re-sign the team’s two star forwards.
“The one thing that trumps everything is you need great players on your team, and great players make a lot of money,” Bowman said. “I would much rather be in the position where you’ve got them and you’re trying to make your cap work than to not have them, and then you’re trying to figure things out and trying to say, ‘How do we get good players?’
“There was never a question about whether we would bring those two players back. They’ve played such a pivotal role in turning our franchise around originally and then sustaining the level we’ve been at. They’re still young. They’re both entering the primes of their careers.”
While the cap outlook could improve between now and the summer, this uncertainty does put a greater emphasis on this season for Chicago. After all, the Blackhawks might look meaningfully different in 2015-16.