Today in Chicago, Patrick Sharp is parading through the streets, high-fiving and fist-pumping fans as they celebrate the Blackhawks’ third Stanley Cup in six years.
With $69 million committed to salaries next season, many believe these could be Sharp’s final days as a Blackhawk as the club tries to make amends with a $71 million salary cap that will force them to unload at least one big salary. Could the Capitals be one of the teams interested in acquiring Sharp and placing him on a top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom?
More importantly, can they make room for his $5.9 million cap hit for the next two years?
On Wednesday, Sharp told CSNChicago that he wants to enjoy a third championship season before giving thought to his future in Chicago.
“I haven’t really put much thought into it,” Sharp said. “It’s been a whirlwind couple of days. To win a third Stanley Cup in this city is something that I’ll always remember. It’s pretty special. It’s a huge accomplishment. These last couple days have been crazy. I’m sure the next few days when things wind down a little bit, that’ll be more of a topic of conversation.”
If you recall, Sharp was rumored to be the subject of trade talks between the Capitals and Blackhawks in late February and when asked specifically about Sharp, Capitals coach Barry Trotz seemed on board with the idea.
“We’re looking for the best players and we’ll do whatever it takes to win,” Trotz said back on Feb. 28. “If you’re in the mix for those names I think it’s great because it shows your team that you’re an organization that’s not willing to stand pat.
“We want to get better, I want to be part of that. If you’re a player or a coach or a fan you recognize the team is trying to get better and they’re not just settling for average. We’re tying to do great things here, so let's not settle for average. Let’s do something great. So those are great rumors to have out there for me.”
Back in February the Caps reportedly were unwilling to part with Joel Ward and a first-round draft pick in exchange for Sharp, who is 33 and coming off his least productive full season since his first full year in Chicago in 2006-07. In 68 games this season Sharp recorded 16 goals and 27 assists and was a minus-8, but he delivered five goals and 10 assists and was a plus-2 in 23 playoff games for the Blackhawks while averaging 15:34 of ice time in the post-season. [Check out this post-game interview he gave while holding his daughter].
The Caps have roughly $50 million committed to eight forwards, six defensemen and one goalie, assuming Philipp Grubauer replaces Justin Peters as Braden Holtby’s backup next season. That means the Caps have roughly $21 million to spend on four forwards [including restricted free agents Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson] and goaltender Braden Holtby, also an RFA.
Theoretically, if the Caps re-sign Kuznetsov and Johansson to cap hits totaling $6 million and Holtby to a cap hit in the $6 million range, that would leave them with about $9 million in cap space to sign two or three more forwards. If the Caps trade for Sharp without getting rid of salary, that would leave roughly $3 million to re-sign Jay Beagle and/or Eric Fehr, leaving no money left for UFAs Ward or defenseman Mike Green.
The Caps also could look into freeing up salary by either including a roster player in a trade for Sharp, or looking into buyout options for a roster player such as Brooks Laich.