Blackhawks Confident Despite Heavy Turnover
The NHL’s $71.4 million salary cap has made it impossible for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to keep their roster intact.
The organization has seen the departure of important players, such as Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Johnny Oduva. Since Chicago won the Stanley Cup against Tampa Bay on June 1, six players have either been traded or signed as free agents by other teams. The number should increase by the time training camp starts in September.
The team is not expected to re-sign defenseman Kyle Cumiskey or forward Daniel Carcillo. Contract negotiations with veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival might be difficult. The Blackhawks also must come to terms with three restricted free agents, including center Marcus Kruger, while managing to stay under the salary cap.
Sharp became one of Chicago’s first top players to be traded from those who were signed to long-term contracts a few years ago. With the loss of him and others that means others have an opportunity to fill in and stand out.
The prominent roles should be filled by rookie forward Mako Dano, center Artem Anisimov and Russian rookie left wing Artemi Panarin.
Right wing Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews will be asked to do more. Their salary raises are a significant reason for the large turnover. Each has a $10.5 million annual increase which combined accounts for 29.4 percent of the salary cap. They accounted for 18.3 percent last season.
Chicago’s front office and coaching staff are moving forward in the midst of all of the changes. The organization has experienced success despite roster overhauls, including when it won the 2010 Stanley Cup title.
Most of the trades in the past brought talented prospects or quality draft picks.
The trades executed this year have brought promising players such as Anisimov and Dano from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt from the Dallas Stars.
"It's not going to be easy, but without disrespect to those guys (who aren't here), we still have a lot of talent, a lot of character on this team, and we can find ways to let other players come in and assume more responsibility, and that culture's not going to change," Toews told NHL.com. "We're going to strive to keep winning."
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