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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Brent Seabrook Deal Exemplifies Roster And Negotiation Issues

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SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 31: Brent Seabrook
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 31: Brent Seabrook /
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CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 23: Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is interviewed during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The deal

Coming off their third Stanley Cup championship in six years, the Blackhawks had several expiring contracts and moves they needed to make to become cap compliant.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both had a pay raise kicking in, and it was making the budget even tighter. This was the summer that Brandon Saad would be traded away to Columbus, Patrick Sharp was moved to Dallas, Brad Richards left for Detroit and Johnny Oduya signed with the Stars when the ‘Hawks couldn’t make a deal with the defenseman.

After a tough summer, Bowman decided they needed to not let Seabrook’s impending free agency fester all year. In late September, the eIgor-year, $55 million contract was signed by Seabrook and the defenseman was locked in to stay in Chicago.

If the money wasn’t enough for the defenseman, he was also rewarded with a no-movement clause as part of the deal. We’ll get to that second part in a moment.

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A $6.875 million average salary would make Seabrook the ninth-highest-paid defenseman when he entered the first year of the contract. The eight players in front of him (in order from highest paid) were P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Suter, Kris Letang, Drew Doughty, Dion Phaneuf and Zdeno Chara.

Players making less than Seabrook include Duncan Keith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and, obviously, every other D-man in the league.

Understanding the mindset of Bowman here, you can see that he did not want to have to worry about Seabrook having a stellar year and possibly having negotiations break down in the summer of 2016. Locking in Seabrook and then working to figure out how to fit the rest of the roster is not the worst tactic when trying to tightrope walk the fine line Bowman is always forced on.

But in retrospect, the move has put Bowman up on the high-wire, blindfolded with one foot tied to his waist. Paying Seabrook top-10 defenseman money, extending it over an eight-year period and giving Seabrook a no-movement clause was a recipe for trouble. Or at least a recipe that would demand Seabrook constantly producing at a high level.

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