Most significant pending free agents this summer: Martin Havlat, Nikolai Khabibulin, Cam Barker (Sleek would be screaming Pahlsson!)
HUGELY important pending free agents two summers from now: Duncan Keith (!), Jonathan Toews (!!) and Patrick Kane (!!!)
In the next two off-seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have all kinds of huge questions to answer about their best players. Coming up, the Hawks must decide if Humpty Dumpty Havlat is worth bringing back. Along with that, the Bulin Wall has been playing as the Hawks were hoping Cristobal Huet would be playing this season. What will they do about their "backup" goalie?
But even more interesting is the restricted free agent status of their three best players: Keith, Toews and Kane are all subject to Dustin Penner inspired crazy offer sheet negotiations.
For me, the biggest question is: how can you pay Brian Campbell more than Keith, Toews and Kane? Perhaps Toews will take a "wearing the C" discount, but Kane is one of the best young players in the NHL. While Keith doesn't get the kind of matinee attention of Toews or Kane, he's been mentioned as a borderline Norris candidate and will probably be in line for a big raise.
What kind of money would it take to lock up those three? To me, $18 million would be an absolute steal.
So, Blackhawks fans, what do you think will happen? Will the honeymoon come to a screeching halt as the Hawks lose one of their big three? Will they blow their cap for the 2009-10 season? Or will they learn the Penguins' pain by having to surround Kane-Toews-Keith with cheap veteran help? I'm all ears.
Please note: NHLSCAP.com seems half and half when it comes to being up to date, so I might keep an eye on things and make an update on the following section:
Best contract: Patrick Sharp ($3.9 million through 2011-12)
Worst contracts: Brian Campbell ($7.1 million through 2015-16); Cristobal Huet ($5.6 million through 2011-12)
Committments for 2009-10: $37.5 million
Players under contract 2009-10: 6 forwards, 6 defensemen, 1 goalie
Committments for 2010-11: $25.5 million
Players under contract 2010-11: 2 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie