The Chicago Blackhawks have a few things that they’ll need to address with their roster heading into next season, but according to GM Stan Bowman, there is one thing that stands above the rest as a priority: re-signing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
“It’s the highest priority for us looking at next year,” Bowman said in his press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “There’s no doubt that’s what we’re going to do. I’ve made it clear. We’ve never wavered from that. There’s no doubting the importance of those two players.”
In their respective press conferences, both Kane and Toews said that they love playing in Chicago, and the Hawks’ captain said that he can’t “think of a better situation to be in.” Both players signed matching five-year contracts that are set to expire at the end of next season, but they’ll both be eligible to sign extensions on July 1st.
Both players are represented by agent Pat Brisson, who also represents clients like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, among others.
With the salary cap likely set to rise above $70 million next season, the Blackhawks are positioned well to absorb the increases in salary for both players that they’re likely to get, but they still may have to make a few moves if the contracts get too high. If they settle into the $9 million a season range, then the Hawks would probably be fine, but things may have to get shuffled up a bit to fit in contracts for guys like Brandon Saad and Nick Leddy in that instance.
If Kane and Toews end up asking for deals in the $10 million range, then that would represent an additional $7.5 million or so on the cap every year. In that instance, players like Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp could find themselves on the chopping block as Bowman tries to balance the organization’s tradition of trying to field a balanced lineup with their need to keep their star players in the fold for the long term.