The Chicago Blackhawks were generous this past week, as goaltender Corey Crawford and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson both received multi-year contract extensions. While Hjalmarsson's contract carries a salary cap friendly number ($4.1 million for five years), Crawford's figure is more inflated ($6 million per year for six years).
Considering the diminished salary cap total of $64.3 million for 2013-14, many are conscious of what long-term, big-money contracts can mean moving into the future. This was especially true of the Blackhawks, as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are nearing the end of their deals and will become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2015.
General manager Stan Bowman reassured fans that the extensions given out this week will play no factor in the team's ability to retain both Kane and Toews. Although the GM admits he doesn't know what the cap will be over the next few seasons, he is sure that money will be no object in keeping both players, via the Blackhawks' website:
"Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will be here forever. I can't predict what the salary cap will be in the near future, but I can tell you that Jonathan and Patrick will be on this team. Those two players put the Blackhawks back on the map, they're up in a couple years, and whatever the numbers are, we'll figure out the details. The notion that the money we're spending now will affect our ability to keep Jonathan and Kane ... it's a non-issue. They will be here no matter what."
By most accounts, the salary cap is expected to grow exponentially over the next few seasons. Bowman will have the option of signing Kane and Toews to extensions beginning next offseason.
As it presently stands, Chicago has $36.6 million allocated to seven players for the 2015-16 season, according to CapGeek.com. Due to language in the collective bargaining agreement, Chicago will have the option of signing Kane and Toews to eight-year maximum term contracts.
(hat tip: Mark Lazerus)