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Hawks, Bruins and Leafs smacked down by salary cap penalties

One of the fun parts of living in a salary cap world in the NHL is that sometimes you have to pay for contract bonuses and time served on the long-term injured reserve at some point. If you’re the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s huge bonuses paid out to superstars that met qualifiers in their contracts for winning the Stanley Cup. The folks at show us the damages.

The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t the only team operating with a significant reduction of their 2010-11 cap space courtesy of performance bonuses.

Sources tell nine teams will face a cap reduction this coming season because performance bonuses earned pushed them past the upper limit in 2009-10. The Blackhawks lead the way by a long shot at an estimated $4.15 million, but the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are getting hit hard too.

The price of success is a big one for the Blackhawks. Instead of getting to spend to the cap at $59.4 million, their “cap” for the upcoming season is set at $55.25 million thanks to having $4.15 million tied up with a penalty. Thankfully, the guys at CapGeek have figured all that math out for us and show that the Blackhawks have a little less than $4 million to spend to try and get at least restricted free agents defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and goalie Antti Niemi signed.

The Bruins and Maple Leafs are the other teams suffering significant penalties as the Bruins have almost $2 million tied up with penalties and the Leafs have $1.4 million gone thanks to bonus payouts. Somehow, someway a team that finished 29th in the NHL managed to hand out more than $5 million in bonuses. Apparently failure is richly rewarded.

As for the rest of the run down, here it is.

1. Chicago Blackhawks, $4,157,753
2. Boston Bruins, $1,759,795
3. Toronto Maple Leafs, $1,400,000
4. Edmonton Oilers, $354,500
5. San Jose Sharks, $327,500
6. Vancouver Canucks, $90,000
7. Pittsburgh Penguins, $83,979
8. Montreal Canadiens, $68,751
9. Detroit Red Wings, $50,000

If any of the other six teams on this list are really hampered by these penalties, perhaps it’s time to hire a new capologist.