Put On Your Thinking Cap Stan!

The NHL and NHLPA agreed on the salary cap for the 2015-2016 NHL season which had a ceiling of $74.1 million and a floor of $52.8. The increase was immediatley¬†due in part to the clause in the CBA that allows for the cap to go up an annual of 5% from the previous year. Last year the cap was just around $69 million and while many had thought that the number could’ve gone higher, the suffering Canadian dollar caused that to not happen.

The Canadian dollar is being exchanged currently for $.81 cents. The seven teams that are apart of the NHL from the north contribute greatly to the revenue of the whole league as every game is sold out and the television rights are very expensive in the country of just over 35 million people. The NHL has 30 teams in it’s league which means roughly a quarter of the league revenue comes from its Canadian inhabiters.

Now it’s no fun talking about economics and the struggling economy of our northern brothers, but rather what impact does this number have on the NHL’s premier franchise. The Blackhawks were of course happy to see any increase in the salary cap, but with the extensions of Kane and Toews kicking in this year ($10.5 Million apiece), there’s still no doubt that pieces will be shed off of this perennial championship roster.

Stan Bowman hates that the Canadian Dollar is suffering, much like the rest of the GM’s and owners in the NHL. The Canadian market helps boost the overall product of the sport and with the ratings of these past few years of playoff hockey the sport is clearly trending way up in terms of public opinion. Bowman could’ve been better off in his offseason team building by having the cap go to say $75 million. It would’ve made players salaries more attractive thus allowing for greater returns in trades.

Be it as it may, the cap is what it is, and Bowman like the rest of his peers who don’t have three rungs in six years must figure out a way to manage the books. The players who’re on the list to not be back with the Hawks remain the same despite the slight increase. Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Bryan Bickell, and Brent Seabrook could all be elsewhere if the Hawks are truly trying to get cap manageable. The names Sharp and Bickell won’t hurt that much, but the loss of a top pairing defenseman will certainly hurt a Hawks team that routinely rolled two defensive pairings against elite teams in the playoffs. Brent Seabrook scored a triple overtime winner agains the Predators in round one, and has had other dramatics goals in his tenure with Chicago.

Now Stan Bowman would love to move a player like Bickell and get a good return but that’s not going to happen. Brickell had a good couple years, but this past season didn’t help his cause to go along with a salary of $4.5 million. Kris Versteeg makes more at $4.7 million, but he only has a cap number of $2.2 million. The players that will fill the eventual voids of Sharp, Bickell, and Versteeg are already on the Hawks roster and ready to move up the depth chart. Terravainen seems to be destined for stardom, and Brandon Saad may already be there with the playoffs he had. In addition the Hawks are ripe with young talent that has yet to reach restricted free agency. In addition to Terravainen and Saad, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw are still on very¬†team friendly deals that give the Hawks maneuverability.

The interesting part will be to see who Bowman wants to try and trade and who he wants to keep. Top priority would be to find a trade partner for Bickell without taking any salary back, in addition to locking up Saad for a long term extension. Brent Seabrook will be the toughest task, but the return Bowman could get for him would and could be too much to pass up. Free Agency in the NHL opens on July 1st, the NHL Draft is in Sunrise, FLA this Friday Night.