Another one will bite the dust
We’ve had our hearts broken many times with cap casualties. When summer rolls around, Blackhawks fans never question if, it’s always a discussion of whom and when. As seasons go by, names come and go with some lasting longer than others. More than likely the ‘Hawks will be faced with the difficult task of unloading the contract of a core player.
Could it be Marcus Kruger, the penalty kill/defensive specialist? Currently, Kruger centers the ‘Hawks’ third line and continues to impress with his defensive ability, but with a cap hit just short of $3.1 million per year, his time could be close to an end. Having a center man with Kruger’s defensive play has been a luxury, but his price may be little too steep to keep.
Watching another core member leave would be a huge loss, but it’s the price you must pay to keep such a young talent like Panarin.
Taking Brent Seabrook’s massive $6.8 million per year contract would fix the situation at hand but would be a hard pill to swallow in Chicago. This may be the best option currently as Seabrook continues to be reliable and put up his fair share of points.
Regardless, you’re starting to catch my drift, right? A big name will almost certainly go. We can agree or disagree with any of the options Bowman chooses, but it’s a business and the Chicago Blackhawks simply couldn’t afford to lose Panarin.
What happens in two years?
OK, boys and girls, fast-forward to the 2019-20 season. Lets just assume that the Breadman continues to go “Yeast Mode” in the NHL and produce at a very high level. Panarin is now an unrestricted free agent. Ouch. This kind of feels like another situation we were in this year until the deal was made.
The market will always be there for a highly skilled winger in his prime. The ‘Hawks will once again have to possess enough cap flexibility to work in another big-number contract. Most likely this contract will be worth more money per year if Panarin continues to thrive in Chicago, and that means more number crunching for Bowman.
This is where Panarin being a UFA becomes an issue. Sure, Panarin is extremely pleased with the Blackhawks organization. Pleased enough to turn down millions of dollars to ultimately remain a part of something special with the Blackhawks.
But what happens if this deal doesn’t go as smooth as this years’ extension? If Bowman shoots Panarin’s agent a number he feels is unsatisfactory, he will be able to walk away with the Blackhawks getting absolutely nothing. It’s a scary thought and we will surely hear about it over the next couple of seasons.
It is an endless fight to remain under the salary cap, and this scenario will be ever-present come summer 2017 and many summers to come. But when as big of a talent as Panarin falls into your lap and you wish to keep said player long-term, you will pay the price.
Similar to keeping names like Kane and Jonathan Toews, the price will be steep, and when keeping multiple massive contracts you will stumble upon many problematic situations.
With all this said, this deal was an absolute steal! Reigning Calder Trophy winner Panarin deserves every cent that he receives from the Chicago Blackhawks along with the millions of dollars left on the table. His loyalty to remain playing in front the Blackhawks faithful and for the only NHL organization he has ever known only makes me appreciate what he does more.