The big news among Blackhawks fans today is that longtime defenseman Brent Seabrook announced his “retirement”.
This will overshadow pretty much everything else today. It’s a bombshell, and it explains why Seabrook wasn’t with the team at all this year.
The real question though is, what impact will Seabrook’s announcement of being unable to continue playing (a non-retirement retirement statement if ever there was one) have on the Chicago Blackhawks‘ season? This year was supposed to be all about rebuilding and transitioning to younger players. Now? That’s not so easy to answer.
The team is winning and is currently in fourth place. The younger players and rookies are adjusting faster than people thought they would have. The competition for the net hasn’t really been a competition and has apparently all but been decided. In a really positive way, this wasn’t the way the season was expected to go, a phrase that’s been uttered many, many times.
Now, Seabrook is unofficially retired. ESPN journalist Greg Wyshynski was quick to tweet out some details about Seabrook’s contract. Chicago still pays Seabrook, but that cap hit should be buried.
What’s more, Seabrook, along with Zack Smith and Andrew Shaw have all been placed on LTIR. According to CapFriendly, with all of the players that were already on LTIR for Chicago, that’s put’s the team at over $23,000,000 as potentially available cap space.
Potentially because, for example, Toews could come back to play this season. So could Shaw. It’s all up in the air. Regardless, that’s a lot of cap space for Chicago, and well ahead of the trade deadline. Stan Bowman could make a splash in the trade market, but should he?
The team wants to be competitive, and it would almost be a lost opportunity to pass this up. At the same time, if Bowman goes out and deals for a piece to make the team better, won’t he ultimately be creating an obstacle for a younger player that needs the experience this year was supposed to provide?
Chicago is in a position that no one could have predicted they’d be in. They wanted to compete for a cup, and now they have the cap space to actually try and do it. Should they? The players are almost certainly saying, “yes.” The team’s management might not be so quick to jump on that train of thought, and they’d be wise to take a moment to mull the consequences of rushing to make a deal.
Still, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to think that Chicago could realistically deal for a top-6 forward or a top-4 defenseman. Does this mean Chicago could make a play for someone like Jack Eichel?
It’s tempting to want to see top-tier players suit up for your team, and this year, shockingly, it could happen. Everything is up in the air this season, and today’s news about Seabrook’s inability to continue as a player shakes things up even more. Best to him and his family! The season just got a bit more interesting for Blackhawks fans.