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Toews, Kane hit bonuses; Blackhawks over the salary cap by millions

Image (1) Kane8-thumb-250x375-13437.jpg for post 2059

You have to give Dale Tallon credit. He was given free reign to do whatever was needed to build a Stanley Cup champion and that’s exactly what he did. He may not have been able to stick with the team due to an inability to work a fax machine, but he was able to bring a Cup back to the city after a very, very long time.

Now comes the hardest part of all: keeping this team together.

We’ve chronicled in the past how the Blackhawks will be facing salary cap hell next season, but until now we didn’t realize just how bad things were. Even with the cap jumping up next season, we were under the impression that the Hawks would be right up against the cap; instead, the Hawks are actually over the cap already.

By $4 million. With only 14 players under contract next season.

Why so much over? Turns out that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews hit on all over their entry-level bonuses this past season. With the Hawks already hard up against the cap for this season, the “excess” goes against next year’s cap. From James Mirtle:

‘A’ Performance Bonuses, meanwhile, are things like number of goals, assists and points, targets that are set by teams, players and their agents when the contract is signed and that max out at $850,000 a season.

Both players maxed out all of their ‘A’ and ‘B’ bonuses this year to push their team over the cap, meaning that while every other team will be working with about a $58.5-million cap next season, Chicago’s cap “penalty” will mean a ceiling of closer to $54.5-million.

The good news is, I guess, that most of the players entering RFA or UFA status this summer were just role players for the Hawks during their Stanley Cup run. Then you have players such as Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Antti Niemi all set to become RFA’s this summer; those are players you would think the Hawks will want to keep.

But how?

As of right now, the Blackhawks have no ability whatsoever to sign any more players. They’ll either have to restructure contracts or move some players in order to free up cap space; then they’ll be lucky to be able to fill out the rest of the roster with players getting the league minimum.

The core of the Blackhawks will remain in tact, and I don’t believe fans will have to worry about this team being blown up just as soon as they reach the pinnacle of greatness. But expect this team to look very different next season. Players like Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dave Bolland, and even Brian Campbell could be moved this summer in order to get the Hawks back where they need to be. [Update: Forget Brian Campbell - he has a NTC.]

That still leaves several RFA players to be signed as well, and you wonder if even moving some of those named above will be enough. You know the Blackhawks want to keep Niemi, but how will they be able to afford it?

Stan Bowman, come on down.