Chicago: Case Study in Poor Cap Management

Fleeting elation?

The Stanley Cup has been hoisted by the Chicago Blackhawks, the NHL has doled out its awards, a fresh set of 18-year-olds has been welcomed, and free agency is in full swing. Despite all the time that has passed, many Washington Capitals fans are still left yearning and badly bruised from the far too early first-round exit from this year’s playoffs. They are left thinking to themselves that could have been us, we do have a lot of the same qualities as the Blackhawks, and yet we didn’t go all the way. And yet, after what the Hawks have had to do in the last few weeks, do Caps fans really wish they were in the same boat as Chicago?

Washington has four top offensive producers in Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, and Alexander Semin, who share many of the same qualities as Chicago’s Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Jonathan Toews. In fact, Washington’s big four may even be better than Chicago’s. Both teams have some of the best young d-men in the league. Chicago haa a blueline anchored by Keith and Brent Seabrook, and talented but inconsistent Brian Campbell. The Caps counter with the up and coming John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green. In fact, both teams even share similarities in net. Semyon Varlamov exploded on to the NHL scene in 2009 with a stellar playoffs and followed up with a great encore performance this year. To some extent Anti Niemi could be thought of as the Western Conference equivalent of Varly. He had a great regular season, supplanting Cristobal Huet, and the Hawks road him to the Cup finals.

Here, however, is where the similarities end.

The Caps have some great role players in Brooks Laich, Mike Knuble and Matt Bradley, but Chicago’s were just better, deeper. When Chicago’s first line struggled at the start of the Cup finals, offensive contributions came elsewhere. Role players are the glue that holds a team together. In hockey we know that superstars alone cannot win championships; there has to be a combination of talent, speed, goaltending, grit and above all chemsitry, commitment, and luck. Without a solid set of above average guys who can bang the puck home on the doorstep or sacrifice their bodies in their own end Stanley Cup aspirations are futile. Call this a blue collar ethos surrounding the skilled stars.

 The Caps perhaps could have had a few more of those guys last offseason if they had gotten creative with their salary cap and signed guys like Ovi and Semin to long deals that resulted in small cap hits during their first season or two of the new contracts. Instead, they decided to be fiscally responsible and sign players to deals that made sense in the long term. Chicago on the other hand did not.

Due to their shortsightedness and fiscal ineptitude Chicago now has to essentially sell off a large part of the soul of their team. First it was the auctioning of Dustin Byfuglien, who is now an Atlanta Thrasher. Then it was young standout Kris Versteeg, who was sent to the Toronto Maple Leaf’s for the equivalent of nothing. The final trade in the first round of cuts was a deal that sent another younger winger in Andrew Ladd to the Thrashers. Brent Sopel and Ben Eager have also been jettisoned. Suddenly the glue that held Chicago together was softening.

Soon the Hawks will begin praying someone comes calling for Cristobal Huet. The franchise is barely $6 million dollars under the salary cap and still has to sign Niemi as well as fill out the roster, which will be a task in itself. In reality, Chicago is going to have to take the players that completed their team and virtually give them away. All of this is the result of the Blackhawks management mortgaging the future to win now.

Is that a hockey franchise Caps fans want to cheer for? In the grand scheme of things, is one Stanley Cup followed by years of fighting of mediocarity — or futility — worth it to Caps fans? There is really no way to swing this as a good way to manage a team. Of course, the Hawks do have that Cup that’s ever eluded the Caps.

Next season will roll around and, while most often defending champs are regularly picked to contend, objectively it will be difficult to do so with the Hawks. The reality is that Chicago will again likely return to being the little brother of Detroit while much of the rest of the Western Conference upgrades. Meanwhile, Washington will again be a lead favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Sure, there will be questions, apprehensions, but most teams have those at the beginning of the season. Wouldn’t fans much rather be in the Caps’ current predicament of having to decide whether Semin or Green is worth keeping in a year’s time instead of having to watch both of them leave? And more.

The short and sweet of it is, Washington should want nothing to do with Chicago’s managerial style. While ominous clouds circle over the Hawks’ Cup defense the Caps will keep building, winning, and gaining experience, working towards the goal of a championship. Key pieces are needed, yes, but just as importantly kep pieces don’t have to be offloaded like a summer yard sale.

This entry was posted in Alexander Semin, Chicago Blackhawks, Front Office, Matt Bradley, Mike Green, National Hockey League, NHL, NHL Salary Cap, NHL Trades, Washington Capitals and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Chicago: Case Study in Poor Cap Management

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  2. Trenton Paul says:

    Really? “While ominous clouds circle over the Hawks’ Cup defense the Caps will keep building, winning, and gaining experience, working towards the goal of a championship”

    You say the goal is a “championship”, Chicago just won said championship. Their managerial style worked. I also don’t see a team with a core of Keith, Toews, Kane, and Seabrook failing to compete year in and year out. I take the managerial style that wins the Cup.

  3. Mike says:

    The Hawks won’t be mediocre anytime soon. They will contend again this year.

    They will bury Huet…In a few years they will bury Cambell.

    Would I rather win a Cup, than have early playoff exists OR Be Prudent and win 1 playoff series in 12 years?

    Give me Option 1.

  4. SpartyCuse says:

    Im a lifelong, die-hard Caps fan, who now lives in Chicago, and is a Hawks season-ticket holder. I think you guys have it all wrong.

    First, Huet can be buried in the AHL, and free up a chunk of cap room (although he will be an expensive AHL’er).

    Second, the pieces lost were not THAT significant. Buff is lazy, and hasnt improved. Look at his ’09 playoff numbers. Everybody thoguht he would explode this season. He didnt. Yes, he had a good playoffs, but really wilted under the Pronger pressure. $3 million for a guy who is 17-17-34 is way too much.

    Versteeg has promise, but drives everybody crazy. Hes a solid low 2nd/third liner. Kinda like Flash. Has a few good games, dazzles you, then disappears for a while. And he’s a bad rapper.

    Ladd is a loss, since hes a good shutdown forward. But he can be replaced.

    The Hawks come into next season with their goalie, top 4 Dmen, and 4 of their top 5 scorers. And a ton of prospects who are NHL ready.

    Will they slide a bit? Probably. But they should still win the division, and be a threat to repeat.

  5. JC says:

    What is it they’re holding again? You have to win it to defend it – not a bad problem to have. Caps apologist alert!

  6. Thaddeus Guy says:

    In a word? YES! I’ll take one cup over a bunch of “regular season success” and a talented but soft team.

  7. Danny says:

    Is this article for real? How can we criticize Chicago for bad cap management when they WON THE CUP?!?? Isn’t the main goal for an NHL team to win a Stanley Cup? Not have awesome regular seasons, choke in the playoffs, and do nothing in the off season to correct those issues

  8. capshockeyfan says:

    As a lifelong fan of the Caps; this past season’s ending was probably the most painful playoff exit I have experienced… a low-blow that I’m still reeling from. I do want the Caps to remain contenders, but I’d also gladly accept (and expect) some expulsion of talent the following season if the Caps were to win a championship.

    Sorry Andrew, I don’t buy your Blackhawks summary and agree with what SPARTYCUSE wrote above, especially his comments on Buff and what they will do with Huet. I’ll just add that as long as the Bowman’s are involved in the Blackhawks managment and JQ is their coach, I believe they will continue to ice a very competitive team.

    I believe GMGM assembled a Caps team that should have been in the Cup finals last year and I blame the playoff exit on the coaching staff for a refusal/inability to adjust to Montreal’s defensive system. This, plus a misguided “trust” in a player such as Flash who is way too soft and has been afforded too many opportunities.

    I expect the Caps to add some defensive grit via free agency. If the coaching staff is able to make necessary adjustments at key times in the playoffs, I will not be surprised to see a Caps/Blackhawks Cup Final next June.

  9. andrew db says:

    I have to agree with the two posters above. You are way off on this article. The Hawks didn’t mortgage their future for a chance to win it all. Their future is Kane, Toews, Bolland, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook and Hammer. These are winners, leaders and some of the best at the position they play. With Campbell and Hossa still on the team you have two older, yet relatively young, veterans who are cream of the crop. Trow Brouwer is 24, had 22 goals last year and if his dad didn’t suffer a life threatening anyuerism right before the playoffs Buff doesn’t even get a shot at playing on the top line. Brouwer is only going to get better, his last year in the WHL he lead the league in goals, his first year in the AHL he lead the league in goals. So it’s reasonable to assume he could and should be a 30 goal scorer next year. Kopecky grew into a nice 2nd/3rd line winger last year, he’s smart two way and plays somewhat physical. Stalburg has the potential to come in and make an immediate impact on the other one of the top 3 LW spots with Brouwer and Kopecky on filling out those spots. Skille is a former 7th overall pick that has been in the minors because of the depth on the Hawks, not because he’s not NHL ready. He has NHL wheels an NHL shot and loves to initiate contact and go to dirty areas to score. With Kane and HOssa as arguably two of the top 6 RW in the game already on the first and third lines, Skille will be playing on either the third line in a shut down role or a 4th line energy role. He can do both and would be a top six guy is Kane and Hossa weren’t on the team. Bickell was a huge scorer in junior with 47 goals in his last year, he’s 6’4″, 230 lbs can skate and has an NHL release and loves to sit in front of the net al la Big Buff. He’s going to be either on the third or fourth line RW depending on where him and Skille fit best. I would assume Bickells defensive play will make him a nice compliment to Bolland and most likely Kopecky on a checking line that can score with the best thrid lines out there. That leaves Skille on the fourth line with Reasoner, who is a younger B version of Madden. He’s good in the dot, smart defensively, and a great pk/shot blocker with playoff experience. My guess is Dowell will be on the other wing. Dowell is basically a tougher, more offensive version of Burish. He’s bigger, skates really quick and can fight a little bit. He also can eat up PK minutes (although Bolland and Sharp with Hossa and Toews are going to be the first two PK units, that’s sick). Again, Dowell and Bickell are a lot like Skille, they all were ready last year to make the jump but the depth chart was just too stacked for them to come in. Maybe they aren;t quite as good as Ladd, Buff and Versteeg, but they will be close, and in two years even better. The d is set with Keith and Seebs as the BEST top paring in the league. Hammer is 23 and will only improve as he is already a 2a shutdown man, he compliments Campbells risks and offensive ability’s with a strong stay at home approach. he also is an unreal hitter and will show that more as he get’s comfortable with the NHL game. Hendry, who played in 16 playoff games this year will be back as the number 5-7 dman and Scott is a big bruiser who will play 6-9 minutes a night and will be in and out of the lineup depending on the opponent. He’s not just a Boogard that can only play 2 minutes a nite, he can take a few shifts and with his size 6’8″ and 260 lbs he will provide some size the Hawks didn’t have on the back end last year. All that is missing is a shot blocking number 5 guy to replace Sopel. But if that’s all your missing, you can probably assume the Hawks didn’t mortgage their future for the now. Oh, and they have a Stanley Cup to show for it!

  10. vt caps fan says:

    For 1 cup – I’d mortgage the future.

  11. Crosscheck says:

    “the reality is that Chicago will again likely return to being the little brother of Detroit”

    The hawks are not a clear cut favorite to win the cup next year, but did all of these moves really kill their chances of winning the Central division? The Wings have not made many moves this offseason, and while Hudler is probably returning, it’s hard too imagine that they will run away with the division. Detroit is getting painstakingly old. They are a top contender in the west when they are healthy, but that car has a lot of miles on it.

    Where all these trades are going to hurt is in the playoffs. Buff was a non factor in the regular season. Ladd’s defensive presence and playoff experience will be missed next May and June, but his role on the checking line can be replaced by Kopecky for the regular season; Versteeg will be the only player who the hawks will miss during the regular season, he is a good scorer, but he’s a frustrating player to watch because of his immaturity and poor decision making skills with the puck. And while his scoring was nice, I doubt that anyone will argue that scoring help is what this team needs.

    So despite shedding all of that talent it can still be easily argued that they can win the central and lock up a top three seed in the west, and in prime position to contend for another cup. But Buff and Ladd will be missed in the playoffs, but keep in mind that Toews and Kane and Bolland are going to keep developing, and they’re not even close to their prime, and that alone should compensate for a little bit of the talent loss.

    And I agree that right now, the top four for the caps are far better than the four for the hawks. But the top 6, top 8, top 10? Even with all of those trades the hawks still have: A young defensive center with an offensive touch in Bolland(who shut down Thorton in the playoffs, and a Sedin), a clutch and consistent scorer in Sharp, a Canadian Olympic defensmen in Seabrook, A young stud defender in Hjalmarsson (if they can resign him), A underrated hard nosed forward in Brouwer, and an allstar in campbell. This kind of depth is still really incredible compared to a lot of the other major players in the west.

    This was a really interesting article and a real unique way to put the hawks salary cap issues into perspective. I am eager to see what Backstrom develops into, He’s a stud already, It’s frightening to imagine what he’ll become, especially playing with that kind of talent.

  12. SHaron says:

    The Blackhawks chemistry will be affected more than anything else-which should make for an interesting year. THe Caps just couldn’t score when they needed to in the playoffs. That seems to show a lack of scoring depth, something I hope the Blackhawks didn’t loose. Buff, Steeger, Eager Ladd all stepped it up in the playoffs-if they didn’t lay well during the year, still better than what they have now!!

  13. muddapucker says:

    I really don’t have a problem with being fiscally responsible and building for the future. I like the Capitals long term approach. My problem is that I think they have too many chips stacked in the “skill” category and not enough in the “grit and toughness” category.

    I just don’t see the Caps as presently constituted having enough “balls to the walls” kind of players that will block shots, clear the crease, intimidate the opposition with an aggressive “in your face” attitude.

    It seems like the Caps don’t wear anybody down, on the contrary, it seems like the Caps get worn down by the opposition.

    I am not saying that we need to abandon skill, I am just saying that a more physical, intimidating Caps team will help to wear down their opposition both physically and mentally. Maybe that is exactly what the first two lines will need. I think a tougher physical presence will actually benefit our offense.

    I think GMGM can maintain his well thought out fiscal strategies. I think that he needs to substitute a few players… Two or three ought to be enough to change the demeanor of the team.

  14. TheFingerman says:

    I agree with many of the commenters–if the choice is win one Cup but have a couple not so great years afterwards, or contend for a Cup for a decade but perhaps never win one, I’ll take the Cup. And I’m not sure why the Blackhawks are necessarily going to be so mediocre next year. Yes, they won’t be a Cup favorite, but they still have all their core players–their four or five top forwards, their top two d-men and their goalie. Sounds pretty good to me.

  15. ross says:

    this is an insanely ridiculous article. I don’t even know where to start with it. I am pretty sure the players that are currently getting their days with the Cup would agree that maybe the Intern needs some more training before posting hot garbage like this.
    Can you give me a group of top-6 forwards and top-4 Dmen that you would rather have going into next year over Toews-Kane-Sharp-Hossa-Bolland-Brouwer & Keith-Seabrook-Hjalmarsson-Campbell? Explain how a team comprised of that core group rounded out with vets (Reasoner) and DEVELOPED cheap talent (Skille, Bickell, Dowell, Hendry) are going to be bending over for detroit?
    The reality is, pre-read and re-think when appropriate.

  16. trekronor says:

    With all respect to OFB, this article makes no sense. The Blackhawks not only won the Cup this year, but they went deep last year – all the way to the Conference Finals after not appearing in the playoffs for a number of years. Also, who is that the Blackhawks hired in 2008 to help manage the club? Oh, Scotty Bowman – he of so many Stanley Cup rings I can’t count’em. I’ll take that management over ours any day. Our Caps over the last 3 years? 3 consecutive early round exits! In hindsight, after witnessing the Flyers and Canadiens this year ride late season waves with disciplined defense, penalty kills, power plays, etc., I don’t think there can be any excuses from Caps fans that all 3 exits were monumental disappointments and that they reflect a weakness in our team’s approach to personnel and strategy. If I had to bet money, I’d bet the Hawks go further than the Caps again next year.

  17. SpartyCuse says:

    Lets also not forget that the Hawks have a pretty solid stash of their own draft pick prospects ready to contribute. Exhibit A is Kyle Beach. A big, bad, bruising, mammoth of a man-child. The kid can score goals and TKOs. He should blossom into a 20-25 goal, 200PIM guy. That more than replaces Buff.

    Skille and Bickell are ready for full-time duty now that a few roster spots are open. And Lalonde should be a solid young Dman.

    This is a team built for the long-haul. The only two cap killers are Huet (who will be in the AHL), and Campbell. But they had to overpay at the time for Campbell. It was a mistake, but heck, they won a Cup.

  18. DCS says:

    I’ll take the cup now. We can can always hope for it later…which is what real caps fans(about 25% of the current fan base) have been doing for 30+ years.

  19. Baltimore Blackhawk says:

    Yeah, this article sounds like sour grapes. Sorry your built for the President’s trophy not the Stanley Cup. The Hawks have the core locked into long term deals and that core is in their early 20’s. For a team that choked like dogs to the Le’Habitants in ROUND 1 I’d look upon the ‘Hawks w envy not down my nose.

  20. HalfInchHollow says:

    The Blackhawks were fortunate to win in the final year the salary cap allowed them to keep their team together. But the gambles paid off, and even if they don’t win again next year, their core is good enough to contend for the next 4 or 5 years. As for the Caps: teams that kill fewer than 80 percent of their penalties do not win Stanley Cups.

  21. Norm says:

    I can’t really assess the Blackhawk’s prospects for next season, but on the central question: I really get much greater enjoyment if my teams are in contention for as long as possible; that means I want my teams managed to be consistently successful. I would hope that will eventually lead to championships – but I would not want the Caps to be overly focused on the near-term. Overall, the Capitals are managing the team very well – although I wouldn’t mind a few Knuble-like signings. This is the same reason I’m so much more satisfied with the Packers operation, than the Redskins.

  22. Aaron says:

    I can see from this article why you are the “intern”. This article is not only “hockey ignorant” but just plain nonsensical. Any real hockey fan would gladly deal with a few trades to see their team hoist the holiest trophy in sports. You argue that growing slowly without with a chance to win is better than having a guaranteed win…good luck with that buddy. Plus, you ignore the wonderful job Stan Bowman has done in getting a plethora of high level prospects and draft picks out of guys he could not afford to keep.

    You can mark my words here: Stalberg, Bickell, and Dowell will make up for the losses of Versteeg, Buff, and Ladd. That’s not even counting the additional contributions from Vishnevskiy, LaLonde, Beach, or any other close to ready prospects, along with Marty Reasoner (a solid 4th line C).

    Your ideas would have some merit if it appeared you did any research or at least had a general knowledge of the ‘Hawks farm system and the moves they just made. By the way, Huet can be buried in the AHL or Europe to erase his cap hit (you should probably know that kinda of thing).

    Overall, a terrible and misinformed article.

  23. Hawks Fan says:

    as a hawks fan for my whole life, watching them get close for so many years, then die off, until recently, I’d take the cup in a heartbeat….with today’s salary cap shedding players is always a necessity. The hawks are in a tighter bind than most, but that was due to the bust that is Huet 5mil and Campbell’s 7+mil contract(both made when we had plenty of cap room), and adding Hossa last year…but by then Tallon already knew what was going to happen he literally went for broke and signed Hossa to push them over the edge…could he have held off and not signed him? Sure he could’ve and the hawks would’ve been contenders without the cap issue, but may not have won the cup…you’re probably the kind of guy who won’t pull his goalie for a chance to win because he could get scored on instead

  24. trekronor says:

    @ Norm: But isn’t the problem that the Caps are not “in contention for as long as possible?” 2 one and dones and one I barely made it to the second round give me no hope that this trend “will eventually lead to championships.” A different trend is required and this offseason gives me absolutely no comfort that Ted, GMGM or Gabby are committed to any different approach. I like the Packers analogy but the Packers have won Super Bowls, they play on hallowed ground and they know how to play a physical game in the playoffs.

  25. Peter says:

    I’ll bookmark this and check in a year from now, in 2011 and see whether the Hawks or Caps went further.
    Oh, and even though he was great in the playoffs, I don’t think many considered Big Buff the “soul” of the team.
    “Fiscal ineptitude”? “shortsightedness”? Sigh. Again, we’ll see in a year.

  26. Aaron says:

    What a stupid load of sour grapes and a bunch of whining. The Blackhawks became a worst to first team in 3 years. Check it. 3 Years. I’ll take that cap management. If the caps could get some defensemen with the zone awareness of Keith and Seabrook, maybe the Capitals could think championship of their own.

  27. OvieTracker says:

    Why is there even a debate about this??? The Hawks WON the Stanley Cup! Over the past three seasons the Caps have one exactly ONE playoff series! I’ll worry about the Caps fading into mediocrity AFTER they win the championship just ONCE. No, wait, they may have already faded into mediocrity despite the star power they possess. To paraphrase the old cliche, a Stanley Cup in hand is worth two–no maybe more–that are over the horizon forever out of reach. I’d just like to see the Caps drink from the silver chalice sometime in my lifetime.

  28. SpartyCuse says:

    Lets not forget, the writer of this article is a Wings fan, and the Wings and Hawks dont get along well.

  29. Canadian4evr says:

    Keep writing garbage like this and you’ll be an “intern” until the Laffs win the Cup. I’d say worst to first in 3 years says it all for cap management . Nuff said.

  30. hawksareunreal says:

    Tomlinson you have no idea what you are talking about. If I were you, I would start writing about things I was atleast familiar with so it sounds somewhat good.

  31. JS says:

    Scotty Bowman has so many Stanley Cup rings, he’s now putting them on his Toews. I think it’s fair to say that the casual Hawks fans are looking at the roster turnover with concern, but those that follow the team closely knew this was coming all along – that’s life in the hard salary cap era, eh?

    They’ve kept all the core players, and everyone they really wanted other than Ladd. (Niemi and Hjarmalsson pending) It’s the Red Wings/Patriots model – identify and pay the stars that make a difference, ruthlessly turnover the role players from year-to-year to keep the bottom line in shape. And props to Rocky Wirtz for signing off on the Huet exile.

  32. ArlingtonRob says:

    The key to the Blackhawks success moving forward will be development of current prospects, and scouting. Although the purge was painful, if the young talent develops the future will be solid. If the current model works, this past year should see the harshest player turnover. This is the Redwing model in practice, now we’ll see if the hawks can replicate the long term success Detroit has established.

    As a Blackhawk fan I’m still shocked by the sudden success of the club…out of the blue really considering I’ve been following the club since 1970. I do wish the Caps well though and would like to see a Hawks/Caps final.

  33. Blackhawkswin27 says:

    “The Stanley Cup has been hoisted by the Chicago Blackhawks, ….And yet, after what the Hawks have had to do in the last few weeks, do Caps fans really wish they were in the same boat as Chicago?”

    Ummmmm….I bet Caps fans do want to be like us since we WON THE STANLEY CUP!! After a half century of losing, I’ll gladly take only being a top four team in our division (much like the Caps) for the next few years. You want to know why? Because we won the Cup!

    Speaking of poor cap management, keep overpaying Richards, a defenseman that can’t play D.

  34. Blackhawkswin27 says:

    Sorry, Mike Green. Whatever. He’s too overrated for me to remember correctly.

  35. Michelle says:

    Last time I checked the Stanley Cup was the point of it all. Have all the perfect seasons you want. It means NOTHING without the Cup. I’m sure Ovie would agree. And the Hawks did what they needed to do to win the Cup. It worked. More than the Caps can say….

  36. Rob W says:

    Seriously? Caps have never, ever hoisted a cup. Not one. The Hawks currently sit on top of the heap.

    Plus, the Caps blue line ain’t all its cracked up to be. That’s why you were eliminated in the first line.

    I wouldn’t trade the real cup for your potential one, ever.

  37. hermes kelly bag says:

    Seriously? Caps have never, ever hoisted a cup. Not one. The Hawks currently sit on top of the heap.

    Plus, the Caps blue line ain’t all its cracked up to be. That’s why you were eliminated in the first line.

    I wouldn’t trade the real cup for your potential one, ever.

  38. HockeyisLife says:

    I think I just became dumber after reading this article. As many of the commenters have noted, Huet’s contract is going to get buried in the AHL or Europe. The Hjalmarsson offer sheet really hurt the Blackhawks and may cost them Niemi. But really, if you watched hockey at all, you would realize Niemi had some spectacular games (and saves), but just as many nights where he exhibited poor rebound control. Also, you seem to be completely ignorant to the fact that much of the Blackhawks cap problem arises from Tallon’s botched RFAs last season (for which he was fired) and Kane and Toews triggering $4+ million in bonus payments, which counts as a cap hit this season. Are the Blackhawks head and shoulders favorites to win the Cup this year? Probably not. They will however be contenders and will win a hell of a lot of games. Even if they lose Niemi, look at how many games they won with Huet in net with his .895 save percentage. Most scrubs can put up those numbers. Sure, that will kill you in the playoffs, but you’re forgetting that the bonuses come off the cap next year (and all the problematic RFA resignings from last season have been traded this offseason). Under the current CBA, the future actually looks very bright for the Hawks (even if they are not favorites next year). The bigger problem looming in the future is what happens with the CBA…but every NHL team will face that. Seriously, before you write an article, please get a clue.

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