Published at the Red Light District last Friday…
The new addition of Marian Hossa certainly has Blackhawks fans all giddy about the upcoming season. He brings boat loads of talent and skill to the table, just adding to what the ‘Hawks already have. His 12-year mega-deal sent shockwaves through the NHL on Wednesday, and prognosticators/die-hard fans (including myself) probably marked them as favorites to possibly dethrone Detroit from its Central Division perch.
Let’s take a step back and look at the whole picture, though. Going into the frenzy, it almost seemed unlikely that GM Dale Tallon would be able to keep Martin Havlat. The thought was he would let Havlat & Khabibulin walk in order to have enough money to re-sign the current (and future) RFA’s. That group includes Dave Bolland (already signed), Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg this summer, and stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith in 2010… better known as the young guns that they can build around for years to come. But now some of that future is on the line unless Tallon can find a sucker willing to take Brian Campbell’s or Cristobal Huet’s gaudy contract. As of this posting, nhlnumbers.com says they have $11.797 million of cap space.
If they don’t find a trade partner for Campbell or Huet, then Tallon could be forced to trade Versteeg or Barker, which would be a mistake; both are 23 and have very bright futures. You assume that they’ll sign both Kane & Toews to similar deals next summer; anywhere from $6-8 million per, depending on how they progress this season. Due to bonuses, they have a combined cap hit of $6.525 mil for the upcoming season. Say they both sign $7 mil extensions a year from now… that’s $7.5 million more coming off the books… with the salary cap coming down.
My question to you is this: are the Blackhawks setting themselves up for failure?? If everything stays the same, you have the ‘Frenetic Frenchman’ (Huet) between the pipes… Patrick Kane on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL10, which won’t help his production this season… and the back-to-back Stanley Cup jinx Marian Hossa locked in for 12 years – the same guy who pulled a negative Houdini act in the playoffs. And… if anything happens to Huet, they’ll probably have to rely on Corey Crawford to hold the fort – the same kid who was shaking in his boots, nervous as heck while on the bench when Khabibulin went down against Detroit.
Don’t get me wrong, the Blackhawks are still the most exciting team in the league and have a VERY bright future. For all I know they could work some magic and be able to keep almost all of these kids for years to come. But did they get better on Wednesday?? No. Did they take a big financial risk by signing Hossa?? Yes.
All I’m saying is that everything was set up for the future, almost Pittsburgh-esque… the stars were aligned for greatness for many years down the road. But now it seems like Tallon is putting most of his chips in the middle of the table trying to deliver the city of Chicago its first Stanley Cup since 1961. The pressure is suddenly on the young ‘Hawks to win if not this year, the next. And you know what… I have my doubts that it will work out.