Losing one (or more) of Kane, Toews, Keith: a crushing inevitability for the Blackhawks

Editor’s note: This post runs really long and might have some inexact math. The major point, though, is that the Blackhawks have painted themselves into an astonishing corner. It is legitimately difficult to imagine them holding onto two of Kane, Toews and Keith.

If they do keep all three, it will require the Hawks to deal with a stunning lack of depth.

Feel free to prove us wrong and point out mistakes. We expect this post to be a crucial part of how we look at this scenario.

And, obviously, we hope you find it interesting.

***

The Chicago Blackhawks horror show salary cap situation keeps dominating our thoughts as the story of the free agency week. Quite a few share our “WTF are they thinking?” train of thought, but many others have voiced their disagreements with our apparent Chicken Little outlooks.

With all that in mind, we decided to break this situation down in various ways. We think you’ll eventually acknowledge the obvious: this is one mind bogglingly screwed up salary cap situation.

First, we’ll look at the Chicago Blackhawks cap commitments in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Keep in mind these will be CURRENT, without any TALLON MAGIC. (Sorry, We’ll try to limit our sarcasm).

Then we’ll list players by their trade-ability. After all, Tallon will have to make moves if he’d like to keep … you know, the two kids who turned his franchise around.

Finally, we’ll look at a few hypothetical situations. Since we’re laying out everything but the Blackhawks’ prospect contracts, feel free to assemble your own panic soaked Chicago Blackhawks roster!

(We used CapGeek.com for calculations and NHLSCAP.com to double check RFA/UFA statuses)

Chicago Blackhawks 2009-10 Roster/Cap Commitments

Forwards

Marian Hossa: $5,233,333
Patrick Sharp: $3,900,000
Dave Bolland: $3,375,000
Dustin Byfuglien: $3,000,000
John Madden: $2,750,000
Andrew Ladd: $1,550,000
Tomas Kopecky: $1,200,000
Troy Brouwer: $1,025,000
Ben Eager: $965,000
Patrick Kane: $875,000
Jonathan Toews: $850,000
Jack Skille: $850,000
Adam Burish: $712,500
Colin Fraser: $700,000

Defense

Brian Campbell: $7,142,875
Brent Seabrook: $3,500,000
Cam Barker: $3,083,333
Brent Sopel: $2,333,333
Duncan Keith: $1,475,000
Niklas Hjalmarsson: $643,333

Goalies

Cristobal Huet: $5,625,000
Antti Niemi: $892,500

Numbers

ROSTER SIZE: 22
SALARY CAP: $56,800,000
PAYROLL (without bonuses): $52,137,207
CAP ROOM: $4,662,793

Salary Cap Commitments for 2010-11

Forwards

Marian Hossa: $5,233,333
Patrick Sharp: $3,900,000
Dave Bolland: $3,375,000
Dustin Byfuglien: $3,000,000
Tomas Kopecky: $1,200,000

Defense

Brian Campbell: $7,142,875
Brent Seabrook: $3,500,000
Cam Barker: $3,083,333
Brent Sopel: $2,333,333

Goalie

Cristobal Huet: $5,625,000

Numbers

ROSTER SIZE: 10
SALARY CAP: $56,800,000
PAYROLL: $38,848,874
CAP ROOM: $17,951,126

OK, now let’s look at the guys Chicago would likely TRY to move (with snarky category titles!)

Highly movable:

Sharp ($3.9 million)
Byfuglien ($3 million)
Seabrook ($3.5 million)

You JUST SIGNED him!

Bolland ($3.375 million)
Barker ($3.08 million)

Gainey-bait:

Huet ($5.625 million)
Sopel ($2.33 million)
Campbell ($7.1 million)

***

OK, so there’s hypothetical situation #1: The Blackhawks don’t move salary, but manage to sign Kane, Toews and Keith for a dream scenario $13.5 million. Oh, and the Salary Cap doesn’t drop at all (snickers).

Forwards: Hossa – Kane – Toews – Fugly – Sharp – Bolland – Kopecky – 5 minimum wage forwards

Defense: Keith – Campbell – Barker – Sopel – Seabrook – minimum wage defenseman

Goalies: Huet – Minimum wage netminder

Numbers:

ROSTER SIZE: 13
SALARY CAP: $56,800,000
PAYROLL: $52,348,874
CAP ROOM: $4,451,126
CAP ROOM PER OPEN SPOT: $445,113

(Note: the Blackhawks would probably still have to find a way to get rid of Sopel to make that work)

Hypothetical situation #2: The Cap drops to $50 million. Kane-Toews-Keith agree to a combined $13.5 million out of the bottoms of their bottomless hearts.

a) They would start over a $50 million cap to begin with, so they banish Brent Sopel to Salary Cap hell. (Again)

b) The NHL’s minimum salary will be about $500,000. That number could be very important to Mr. Tallon around July 2010.

c) We would assume the Blackhawks would need to keep/wouldn’t be able to trade:

Hossa, Kane, Bolland, Toews, Seabrook, Keith, Barker. For the sake of sanity, they’d probably keep Kopecky to make Hossa happy or some dopey shit.

d) So, if the Blackhawks lived in a dream world in which they could rid themselves of Brian Campbell, Cristobal Huet, Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Sharp …

… while signing Kane, Toews AND Keith to trio of bargain contracts …

They would have five forwards and three defensemen for $30 million. This would give them $20 million to fill (at the minimum) seven forward spots, three defensemen and two goalies. To ice a hockey team, they would have approximately $1.67 million per roster spot.

Without a goalie. Without even two full lines of forwards or defense.

This is if the Blackhawks unload a murderer’s row of idiotic contracts.

Even if this situation played out with the current cap, they’d have $2.16 million per open spot.

And this the DREAM scenario.

We don’t know what else can convince you. Go play around at CapGeek.com and see if you can find a way to explain how the Blackhawks aren’t mortgaging their future. Seriously, we’ll gladly eat crow if it means that there is some order restored to the universe.

***

Every team pushing the cap this year will have some serious headaches if the salary cap drops. Especially if it drops by $6 million. The Chicago Blackhawks, however, are mavericks.

They insist on struggling even if the cap DOESN’T drop.

Time for us to get some Advil.

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