It’s One Last Ride with the Chicago Blackhawks Current Core

By Brian Kinkade

Jun 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry to seem like a downer, although that wasn’t my intention.  After yesterday’s wonderful but expected news in the world of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane’s respective 8 year contract extensions, today it’s back to reality.  Kane and Toews’ respective salary cap hits of $10.5 million won’t kick in until the 2015-2016 season, so the Hawks will still have their cornerstone players for relative chump change for one more season.

2015-2016 is where things will get interesting.

Yes, the salary cap is rumored to be on the rise, significantly, next season.  That was supposed to happen this year, too, so we’ll have to wait and see(but in all likelihood, the cap will make a big jump next year).  The bigger the better, obviously, but regardless, changes will have to be made.

Will it be Patrick Sharp? Bryan Bickell? Brent Seabrook? Or someone else?

As of right now, the Hawks are $2.2 million over the cap, and they will have to shed salary before the season starts, however it is unlikely any of the aforementioned players will be the ones on the way out.  Not this season, anyways.

Sounds brutal.  Almost like the Kane and Toews deals aren’t even worth it, if it’s going to cost them several other core members.  This is NOT true.

With players like Jeremy Morin, Teuvo Teravainen, and Ben Smith on the way up the depth chart, it is almost their turn to take over the role of secondary core players.  Same goes for Brandon Saadwho is already part of the core, but is young and has a long future ahead of him, as well as a pricey extension.  Saad will be a restricted free agent following the upcoming season, and will likely be a bulls-eye for another team’s offer sheet agenda.

Saad is 21 years old, Morin is 23, Teravainen is 19, and Smith is 25.  All are still young, with their best hockey likely still ahead of them.  Sharp is 32, Bickell is 28, and Seabrook is 29.  All have reasonable and movable contracts, with their days of development behind them.  Are they still valuable?  Of course.  That’s why they can and some will eventually be traded.  It’s almost time to promote the young blood and ship out the more senior blood while it’s still pumping at a productive NHL pace.

Not yet, though.

2014-2015 will be the last hurrah of what will likely be considered the first part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Golden Age.  6 playoff appearances, 2 Western Conference Finals appearances, and 2 Stanley Cup Championships in 7 seasons is an unbelievable run that will be tough, but amazingly not impossible to top.  It’s not over yet, though.

We likely have one more season with this old gang, let’s go out on top, and usher in the next chapter in the Golden Age of the Hawks.