Chicago Blackhawks’ Toews And Kane Contracts: Past, Present And Future
I hate comparing contracts of superstars to those of other superstars. You paint a picture that does not account for the circumstances under when a contract was signed and what has happened in the league since each deal. But it is hard to ignore the differences in this case, specifically when talking about the difference between first-round exits and championships.
Sidney Crosby is entering Year 5 of a 12-year, $8.7 million AAV contract. Evgeni Malkin is entering the third year of an eight-year, $9.5 million AAV contract. Combined, they make $18.2 million a year, or 24.3 percent of the Penguins’ overall salary cap in 2017-18.
Crosby’s contract was signed just before the lockout of 2012-13 that saw 12-year deals being eliminated and recapture penalties being placed for players who retire under these long contracts. But with eight years left on Crosby’s deal, Crosby will be 38 and likely still playing by the time the contract expires. It is one of, if not the best contract in the league.
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While it is hard to compare the ‘Hawks’ situation with that of the Penguins, you can quickly start to see what the extra $2.8 million provides the Penguins year after year.
In the simplest form, Phil Kessel makes $6.8 million a year. Remove Richard Panik‘s $2.8 million a year, add in the $2.8 million more in space the Penguins have from their two superstars, and the ‘Hawks would only be looking at finding another $1 million or so to fit a guy of Kessel’s cost/caliber on the team.
But the Penguins and the Blackhawks were very similarly composed in 2016-17. Toews/Kane at $21 million to Crosby/Malkin at $18.2 million. Kessel at $6.8 million and Marian Hossa at $5.275 million. Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook around $12.42 million and Kris Letang/Olli Maatta at $11.33. Corey Crawford/Scott Darling around $6.6 million and Marc-Andre Fleury/Matt Murray at around $6.4 million.
While the numbers are close, there is a big difference in having an extra $3 million a year to work with. It’s the difference between signing Patrick Sharp and signing Sam Gagner. It’s the difference between being able to keep Niklas Hjalmarsson in your future plans and having to trade him off for a younger player who has less experience but a better contract. When walking the fine line of the salary cap limit, every single dollar counts.