Sharp's New Contract: What It Means For The Future



Chicago’s future just got a whole lot better looking. Mr. Everything-You-Need-Me-To-Be, Patrick Sharp has signed a 5-year extension with the Blackhawks. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the cap hit is $5.9 million per year.

But instead of focusing on Patrick Sharp’s contributions to the team, since Sam Fels over at Second City Hockey already did a fine job of it, I’m going to concentrate on what this likely means in regards to future moves.

First off, a big time 2nd line center (or power forward) is now definitely not in the Hawks plans, unless they “rent” one (a UFA with an expiring contract) prior to the trade deadline this season or, unlikely as it is, sign Chris Drury to a 1-year deal this summer. And whether they choose to give up the players, prospects and/or draft picks for a trade deadline rental really depends on the development of Marcus Kruger at center or if Olesz/Stalberg/Smith/Morin are getting the job done at LW. Moving Sharp to center for playoffs worked in 2010, there’s little reason it shouldn’t work  again. If the Hawks want to go the rental route, they have the bodies to trade, as you’ll see below.

With an overload of talented LW prospects in Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach, Brandon Saad, Ludvig Rensfeldt, and Phillipe Paradis, promising centers Marcus Kruger, Mark McNeill, Brandon Pirri, and Chris DiDomenico, and power forwards Kevin and Jimmy Hayes, the Hawks really have no need to look elsewhere to fill in the top lines in the future. They will need to (and can) rely on cheaper, homegrown talent to fill out the roster.

Inexpensive contracts for Kruger (RFA), Bickell (UFA), Leddy (RFA), and Stalberg (UFA) all come due in 2013. The Hawks will need to make some choices and give out a couple of raises to these current support players, and by then Leddy and Kruger could be considered part of the always evolving core. With so many big contracts already on the books, rumblings will again emerge about moving a large contract.

The obvious suspect is Marian Hossa, whose life contract expires in 2021. Other options could be Hjalmarsson or newly acquired Steve Montador if they don’t live up to expectations this season. But if the Blackhawks can move Hossa in the next 2 years, they will. At that time a majority of his front-loaded contract will be paid, which will make him attractive to small market teams looking to get to the cap floor (assuming no huge changes to the new CBA next year).

“But what if Hossa averages 35 goals over the next 2 seasons?” Although that could affect the decision-making process, in my opinion it makes him that much more movable. Just ask Brian Campbell.

Obviously this is all down the road and if this summer proved anything, it’s that a lot can change between now and then. It’s amazing that just a couple of months ago, there was doubt as to whether or not the Hawks could afford to keep Sharp.

All-in-all, this is another very good and pro-active signing for Stan Bowman which should (but probably won’t) quiet many of his detractors. Bowman and company have assembled a team comparable to any in the NHL. With this much core talent locked up, and cap room for a more solid supporting cast, anything short of another Stanley Cup in the next 3 years will be a disappointment.


Tags: Blackhawks Contract Marian Hossa Patrick Sharp Prospects

  • JohnFaker

    I think you are wrong about Hossa. Hes nowhere near Campbell in terms of contract bloating as his cap hit is actually less then Toews, Kane, Sharp, Keith, and Seabroook.( Plus at least hes performing unlike Campbell was. Hes nearly a point per game player and hes also the best player on the team right now and for the past two years. With the things he can do on the ice, its not practical or smart at all to move him. His influence on Kane and Sharp has been really noticed. People say that Kane doesnt play defense but since Hossa has come to town his backchecking has really rubbed off on Kaner. A few of his goals (against Calgary and Ottowa this year) have come as a direct result of a Kane steal or stick lift.

    Anyway the point is, moving Hossa would not be a good move. The new CBa for the NHL might see the cap still rise and I believe theres gonna be about 6.5 Million coming off the books from the free agents that we signed to one year deals. That should leave plenty for a few of the prospects to join the team next year.

  • FrankRekas

    John, you hit the nail on the head with what Stan Bowman has done if just a couple months. I’m sure the mindset of the fan base is significantly different than it was in June. The core is set, and the less expensive parts are filling the holes, and the “roles”. The team as it stands right now can challenge for the cup this season. If a true second line center is needed for the playoffs, we seem to have the salary cap room to go out and get one whether it’s a trade of players, or we give up a pick or prospect. It’s nice to be in this position.

  • DaleHalas

    @JohnFaker Hi John, I talked about Hossa’s contract further in today’s post. He has a really good cap hit. However, it is really about how many high end contracts the Hawks have NOT that Hossa’s contract by itself is bad.

    I do agree with John S. here, though, I think the Hawks are going to have to move Hossa’s contract in the future. The cap jumped way up this year and I think there will be a correction to the cap in the future. I don’t think you can count on it continuing to rise.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @JohnFaker Thanks for the input JF.

    First off, I wear a Hossa jersey to games, so I am a fan of his. And I agree that his cap hit is not so bad compared to some of the contracts we’re seeing these days.

    I disagree that he’s been the best player on the team the past two years. I’d give that designation to Toews. Seabrook has also been very consistent against strong competition. Hossa, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. I chalk that mostly up to playing injured – but that still can’t be overlooked, especially since it’s likely the reason Chicago traded Havlat in the first place.

    Also, I’m not so sure that Hossa is the one who changed Kane’s game. I believe it had a lot to do with Quenneville. I don’t recall Kane stating it was Hossa to the media, so we’re likely just speculating here.

    Sharp’s defense was gawd awful last year – and against a very low Quality of Competition.

    Back to Hossa’s contract. First off, he doesn’t have a NTC, so he could be moved without getting his permission. Second, it’s still a big number and Hossa is not getting any younger. He’s been in the league since the mid-90′s and has a lot of mileage on those tires for a 32 yr old. It’s EXTREMELY unlikely he’s going to play out that contract and could realistically retire even 4 yrs early. In that scenario, I agree he might stay, but I still doubt it.

    One thing that may change next season with the new CBA is how the cap hit is calculated. There is a lot of talk about making the cap hit equal to the player’s actual salary that season. If that happens, Hossa would cost the Hawks just under $8M in cap space until 2016 (when his salary begins tapering). In that scenario, do you choose to keep your young core players, or the eldest whose production and durability already are dropping off?

    As I mentioned in my article, the Hawks have an overload of talent in the system that should be NHL-ready in the next couple of years. Yes it sucks, but you MUST continue to rotate part of the core if you want to continue to be a successful franchise for more than a few years.

    Kane’s contract expires in 2015. My belief is the Hawks therefore move Hossa if possible after 2014. That’ll give them a chance to see how someone like Hayes fills in. If Hossa’s not gone by then, then you’re right and he’ll likely stick around until (early) retirement, but then it’s possible Kane might not be around after 2015. These young prospects HAVE to play somewhere. Better here than somewhere else.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @JohnFaker Oh, and I didn’t mean “trade” Havlat literally since he was a UFA. I meant they swapped Havlat for Hossa.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    A follow up to my mention of Ludvig Rensvelt. The big Swede (6’3″) just signed with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL, so he’ll be in North America which is a great sign and he’ll get some very good experience.

  • JohnFaker

    @John Schultz I agree with most of your points, but first off i doubt that the future CBA will make the cap go down. Also, the NHL was investigating those long term contracts and put a stop to them, but, I do think they may grandfather them in as it was signed before the new agreement. I still dont think its a bad contract because if hossa plays when hes in his upper 30′s hes still capable of scoring 50-60 points when hes healthy. At that point he will be making 1 million a season. thats quite a bargain and a cap hit(if the CBA counts acctualy salary) for a 50-60 point player. The whole key here anyway is Hossa being healthy, because if this year he scores 35 goals and has 70+ points and plays in most of the games this whole conversation will be null. Look at what being in the finals did to the Hawks last year, then think Hossa not only did it three years in a row but did it on three different teams, new systems, new towns, moving etc. now that hes had a nice long offseason i really expect him to be healthy. cause he was really known before these last two years for being incredibly durable.

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  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @JohnFaker No, not expecting the cap hit to go down either – just possibly calculated differently. If they do that, most likely there will be no grandfather clauses. So Hossa’s cap hit would be almost $8M.

    And that changes things drastically. Even though the Hawks will have around only $60.5M in “cap salary” going into this season, they have over $77M in “actual salary.” They’d have to cut loose a big contract.

    And there is a recent historical precedent for this possibility. In 2005 the Red Wings among others had to cut a full 50% – 50%!!! – of their salaries to fall under the new cap (from $78M down to $39M).

  • MoneyBoy

    Amazing number of really high draft picks … and what look to be really good ones as well. SBow has done a fine job of bringing in established, hungry players at a significant discount. This gives the crop of youngsters another year to develop.

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  • cliffkoroll

    Good article John. You indicate another “top-6″ forward is not in the cards, and I agree it’s unlikely, but what about this:

    Come the trade deadline, Calgary is toast as usual. Jarome Iginla has a year+ to go on his $7 million contract. The Hawks deal for Iginla, you know, he’ll be pushing 35 and mebbe over the Ernie Banks “I wanna finish my career as a loser in Calgary” thing. His prorated cap hit fits this year, and dumping Olesz allows him to fit next year too.

    OK, mebbe not Iggy, but someone like him.

    I know we’re all in for the long haul, but something like this would dramatically improve the Hawks chances of picking up a Cup or two the next two years.

    After that, he gone.

    How redunculous is this line of thinking?

  • DaleHalas

    @cliffkoroll OK, same exact thought process but Sharp plays out this year and again struggles defensively in that center slot. So Sharp moves to the Selke/Hart line, Brunette goes to Hossa’s line and who do they “rent” at the trade deadline to fill the slot in-between?

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @cliffkoroll Really depends on the CBA and how 2nd line center shakes out.

  • cliffkoroll

    @John Schultz not grokking. In the case of Iginla, e.g.,his contact expiration coincides with the current CBA. Also, if the Hawks make a move in the next 6 months, how much certainty will we have wrt the next CBA anyway?

    If the Hawks click with Sharp (Kruger?) at 2nd center, I agree it’s kinda moot, and Stan’s stash may be spread around instead to address other needs “as they arise”, but the best answer for Stan is to spend the money one way or another this year without creating entanglements beyond 2012-13.