This move comes out to blow us all away, as the team is already over the cap limit for this season and now there is genuine concern for what is going to happen next season and how they are going to get below the yet-to-be-determined salary cap ceiling number for next season.
There is little question that these three players are all genuinely considered to be "franchise players" and would be on any team in the NHL, but the Blackhawks have done more than their fair share of spending over the past couple of summers, which has little reason to justify this cause.
This season, Keith has 23 points (6G, 17A) in 26 games, Toews has 16 points (5G, 11A) in 20 games and Kane has 26 points (9G, 17A) in 26 games. There is little question about these players and their abilities, because they should all be Olympians in Vancouver in February and they all have huge leadership roles on the Blackhawks, both on and off the ice.
|Marian Hossa||Duncan Keith||Cristobel Huet|
|Patrick Kane||Cam Barker||Corey Crawford|
|Jonathan Toews||Brent Seabrook|
|Kris Versteeg||Brian Campbell|
|Dave Bolland||Brent Sopel|
As you can see above, this is who the Blackhawks have signed on for the 2010/'11 season to this date and they all have roles on the team currently, except for Crawford, who is down in the minors. These 16 players are not coming cheap by any means. The current cap value for these players above is sitting at a whopping $61.2 million.
Early indications from the Commissioner suggests that NHL revenues this season will either be even or up 1% this year, which means the salary cap is likely to stay the same at $56.8 million. That being said, the Blackhawks are $4.4 million over the cap and they still have seven players to sign on to make their 23-man roster. Something will have to give.
The team has shown that these three players are the future of the franchise, but long-term deals to Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell would also suggest that they are the core players on this team. Now what? It's likely that the Blackhawks will have to do some serious contract dumping, but they have backed themselves into such a corner that the market knows that they are in big trouble. This will mean their demand to move players like Brent Sopel, Cam Barker, Patrick Sharp and Dusin Byfuglien will come with little return.
There is plenty of intrigue surrounding this day in Blackhawks history (and future), but all we can do is speculate as to how its going to go down right now.