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On Patrick Sharp’s future in Chicago

Aug 4, 2014, 12:38 PM EST

The Blackhawks know all about being in salary cap hell.

Following their Stanley Cup win in 2010, the club was forced to trade away a number of key contributors — Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg — as there just wasn’t enough money to go around.

Now it seems a similar situation — albeit less hellish — could be unfolding. The ‘Hawks currently sit $2.2 million over the salary cap for next season and, even after they get that number down prior to the season starting in October, they’ll face additional money concerns moving forward.

Why? The ‘Hawks made history last month by making Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane the first $10 million hits in the cap era. The financial breakdown, per CapGeek:

source:

As you can see, it’s a substantial financial commitment. And Chicago has more than a few of those.

Hefty deals are already in place for Corey Crawford ($6 million annually), Brent Seabrook ($5.8), Duncan Keith ($5.5), Marian Hossa ($5.275) and, of course, Patrick Sharp, who’ll pull in $5.9 million until 2017. The problem for Chicago GM Stan Bowman, though, is what’s on the horizon — the club will have just 15 players under contract for $65 million in 2015-16, and there are some big negotiations down the road. Brandon Saad, a budding star in his own right, will need a new deal after next season; same goes for versatile center Marcus Kruger and offensive defenseman Nick Leddy — all of whom are currently 24 or younger and represent a good part of the club’s future.

So, back to Sharp.

His name first surfaced as a potential trade target prior to the July 1 free agent frenzy, and we discussed the possibility of him moving to the offensively-challenged Panthers (as part of the popular Chicago-to-Florida pipeline). Florida aside, it stands to reason a number of teams would be interested in his services — at 32, he’s coming off arguably his finest individual campaign, notching a career-best 78 points while helping Canada win gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Sharp’s also a goalscorer, and that alone makes him a prized commodity. He’s cracked 30 in each of his last three full seasons with Chicago and has been a pretty solid playoff contributor, leading the team with 10 goals en route to the ’13 Stanley Cup. Natural scorers are hard to come by; there were only 21 guys in the NHL last year to score 30 goals or more.

That, really, is why Sharp’s name came up in discussions. Of the “expendable” assets Chicago has, he’s probably more alluring than Hossa because 1) he’s three years younger, and 2) doesn’t have Hossa’s back-diving contract structure, which could be huge in terms of cap recapture penalties. And that’s going on the assumption Hossa would even be available, which he doesn’t appear to be.

While it’s true Sharp has a modified no-trade clause, it might not be enough to keep him from moving on.

But… would Chicago actually deal him?

Make no mistake, losing Sharp would hurt. He’s been with the organization for nine years (has a local radio show and everything), serves as an alternate captain and it would be remarkably difficult to acquire equal value in any sort of trade. Like we’ve seen in the past, however, the ‘Hawks may be forced to make the hard move now for an easier financial future.

As for the man himself, Sharp was on hand for the purge of four years ago and understands how things work.

“There’s going to be talk, discussion, rumors — it’s part of the business,” he said in mid-July, per the Chicago Tribune. “But I think what my agent (Rick Curran) said was pretty self-explanatory. I’ve been able to get away from hockey and kind of relax a little bit.

“If you start worrying about it and start paying attention to all the speculation and rumors, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. It’s my job to play hockey, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

  1. areaman714 - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Sharp will have to go unless he agrees to a heckuva hometown discount. Six million a year is too much bread for the goalie position. The Hawks can get as good or at less almost as good for a couple million less.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Hmmm, Sharp is a winger, not a goalie. And there is no scenario for a discount, as he’s not up for an extension.

      He’s also par of the reason the Hawks are so tough to defend against – what line do you try and shutdown?.

      No easy way out. For this year, shedding Rozival and Versteeg provide all the relief needed. The question is next year. Other possibilities are Leddy and Odouya.

      • areaman714 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:27 PM

        A sentence or two inadvertently didn’t get through for some reason. My apologies. The 6 million referred to Crawford. Six million is too much to throw at a mere pretty good goalie. Trimming the goalie salary may need to be necessary. I think the Hawks will have to do significant maneuvering to keep Sharp. This is probably going to be Sharp’s last contract and he will probably get much more from another team than Chicago has to offer.

  2. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    You also may want to consider doing a little more research before you post.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Mike, that was addressed to Areaman not you – I clicked on the wrong reply line. I don’t remember reading your articles and thinking poor research. You probably get too many cheapshots, so I wanted to let you know this was not one.

      • Mike Halford - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        thanks friend. appreciate that.

    • areaman714 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      More and better proof reading at least. I replied to Mike above what I intended to say.

      • skuba7 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        Sharp still has 3 full seasons at $5.9M, so no ‘heckuva discount’ on his next contract (when he’s a 35+ by the way) will matter to the desperate position the Hawks are in now. Only way to ‘trim the ‘goalie salary’ is to somehow move a brand new $36M for what you call a mediocre goalie and then somehow find a viable replacement. All those ships have sailed.
        Versteeg is gone for sure, but it’s Bickell that should have been let go.

      • areaman714 - Aug 4, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        Skuba. Subjective reasoning abounds . . . “Pretty good” is better than mediocre. There is a hardly a dearth of pretty good goalies in the NHL. Six million is too much to throw at Crawford. Sharp is the most desirable piece as far as return to the Hawks goes. Crawford isn’t moveable. Someone has to go.

  3. mattyg89 - Aug 4, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    I think he meant 6 mil for Crawford as his contract is mentioned in the article.

    • skuba7 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      That may have been, but it still doesn’t work, as Crawford has 6 years making $6M on his contract.
      And, how did that comment get 4 thumbs up?

      • areaman714 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        I would like to thank the four sympathy votes; gives me reason to forge ahead.

    • areaman714 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      I did mean Crawford. I posted the thing and I have no idea what point I was trying to make.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        And honest response ;) I’ve posted a couple I regret, such as when I’m fighting sleep or interrupted.

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