by PuckStopsHere on 12/05/09 at 11:28 AM ET
With the Chicago Blackhawks recent resignings of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith, we have a very good idea what the core of the team will look like for the next several years. With their length contracts that would be hard to move, we can assume that Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet will be part of the Blackhawk core as well. Anyone else will be hard to keep around for salary cap reasons. There is already speculation that Cam Barker, Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel are among the players on their way out.
Chicago is clearly a good team. Their 17-10 record (with three overtime loss points) places them in fifth place in the NHL. They haven’t won the Stanley Cup. Last year’s semi-final appearance is their first playoff berth since 2002 and we are already talking about which players the team will have to get rid of to stay below the salary cap.
It is very likely that Chicago will be a very good team in the future, When Kane, Toews and Keith hit their primes (after all right now they are 21, 21 and 23 years old respectively), they should be even better if they have not dismantled the rest of their core. In four or five years time, this looks very much like it would be an elite team assuming they have a top goalie at that time. By then, Cristobal Huet will have to be replaced and it is unclear how that will be done.
The Chicago Blackhawks have a very good team. They might be good enough to win the Stanley Cup. They would be even more likely to win it in a couple years if their team could be kept together that long (but the salary cap assures that it cannot). Their window of opportunity to win the cup is quickly closing. This year or possibly next year will be their best opportunities, despite the fact that their stars are still approaching their primes. This is because the salary cap will have them unloading talent as soon as this summer. We will never know how good the Chicago Blackhawks could have been if they were assembled under a previous CBA. It is quite likely that the current team will not get the chance to become that good. That is a loss to hockey and hockey fans in general.
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