This past week the Blackhawks have signed Corey Crawford, 6 year 36 million dollar contract extension and Niklas Hjalmarsson, 5 years 20.5 million dollar contract extension. General manager Stan Bowman has locked up two important members of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup championships to long term deals.
Whether you love these deals or hate these deals, Crawford and Hjalmarrson will be around for the foreseeable future. There is another underlying issue with these two signings that needs to be addressed. Can the Blackhawks still pay Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews?
As we know Kane and Toews both signed 5 year 31.5 million dollar extensions in 2009. We also know that both players will become free agents after the 2014-2015 season. So can the Blackhawks pay both Kane and Toews?
The answer is a resounding yes! Blackhawks fan can shout it from their rooftops in their best Marv Albert voice. As much as I love Crawford and Hjalmarrson, they are supporting members of the core. The heart and soul of the Blackhawks core is Kane and Toews.
Stan Bowman has a plan, he locks up members of the core to longer term cap friendly deals. He signed Duncan Keith (13 years 72 million in 2009), Patrick Sharp (5 years 29.5 million in 2011), Brent Seabrook (5 years 29 million in 2011) and Bryan Bickell (4years 16 million in 2013). One can speculate that Bowman would not be giving out deals to Keith, Sharp, Seabrook, Bickell, Crawford and now Hjalmarrson if he could not sign Kane and Toews.
Let’s not forget the salary cap is going up over the next several seasons. The Blackhawks will also have short term deals of Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival coming off the books. One could guess the Blackhawks might even buyout Marian Hossa after next season to free up money. Boom, there is the money to pay Kane and Toews.
Based on that thought process, Kane and Toews will join Crawford and Hjalmarsson with new deals in the not so distant future. Now that we have established the Blackhawks will be able to pay Kane and Toews before their contracts run out. The real question is how much money is it going to take?