Rozner: Blackhawks' cap problems only getting worse

 
 
Updated 5/13/2017 6:26 PM
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  • Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov's contract -- five years for $23 million -- is one of the larger contracts that some could say is causing trouble to the Hawks' salary cap.

      Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov's contract -- five years for $23 million -- is one of the larger contracts that some could say is causing trouble to the Hawks' salary cap. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

In hindsight, it's a much simpler exercise.

It's pretty easy to look at some of the Blackhawks' contracts and recognize the ones that didn't work out very well.

The Bryan Bickell deal was a stunner, four years and $16 million following his great playoff run in 2013.

It was somewhat understandable, given his physical play on a very small team and how effective he was on the top line when Joel Quenneville made him part of the nuclear option with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

A bit of a gamble, sure, but that version of Bickell gave the Hawks two things they desperately needed.

The Corey Crawford contract also seemed to be more than necessary at that moment, given the relatively short amount of time he had been the starter. Six years and $36 million felt like a reach, but Crawford has lived up to the deal.

As for Artem Anisimov, why the rush to give him five years and $23 million a day after arriving in the Brandon Saad deal? The Hawks have not won a playoff series since he arrived, though it's hardly all on Anisimov.

Did the Hawks really need to give 30-year-old Brent Seabrook eight years and $55 million in the fall of 2015? Granted, it's easier to do when you've won three Stanley Cups in six seasons, but that was a shocker.

And then there's Marcus Kruger, who got three years and $9 million in March 2016, six months after signing for a year and $1.5 million, and having missed most of the first half of that season with a wrist injury.

Again, easy to look past the good deals and wonder why the bad ones occurred, but now Kruger is probably on his way out of town and it may cost the Hawks another player the way Teuvo Teravainen was sent to Carolina with Bickell's contract.

The talk in NHL circles is that the Hawks are trying to get Vegas to take Kruger's contract, but that the Hawks might have to give them another player in the process.

It will probably be one of their young guys, along the lines of a Vinnie Hinostroza -- or someone like him -- that's already cracked the Hawks' lineup.

The Hawks are about $3 million over the cap for next season right now after signing Richard Panik for two years at $2.8 million annually, and Panik -- who would have been a restricted free agent July 1 -- was startled the Hawks came at him so hard.

"I was waiting for the first offer to come in and the first one they gave me was surprising, so there wasn't much thinking about if I was going to sign it," Panik said on a conference call with the media. "I was really happy to get the first offer."

Doesn't sound like much of a negotiation.

So the Hawks are committed to $60 million with nine players in Toews, Kane, Marian Hossa, Anisimov, Artemi Panarin, Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Crawford.

Some of those contracts have been worth every penny, and you'll not hear about those, nor will anyone get any credit for the ones that have been bargains.

And some of it is merely the price of doing business for a marquis franchise that has been the standard for the rest of the league since first making the conference finals in 2009.

But there's simply no room for error when you have so many stars, which on the surface sounds like a nice problem to have in the NHL these days.

Still, you add up a bad million here, a waste of a million there, a contract or two that never should have been signed, and $800,000 times three or four or five, and you start wondering if maybe you could have held on to a Nick Leddy or a Saad, and maybe you're not facing some of the problems you have with an aging roster that's gone out in the first round in consecutive seasons.

Of course, in hindsight it's painfully easy to do the math.

Painfully.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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