What another successful season from the Blackhawks Alternate Captain. Forward Patrick Sharp just finished a 71 point season (34G, 37A) including 5 playoff points. He proved to the Windy City that he was deserving of the $4.1 million. Sharp also won the 2011 NHL All Star Game MVP Award for his one goal and one assist effort for the Western All Stars. He still has one more year left on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2012.
Remember it was just two seasons ago when the Blackhawks front office was timid on re-signing Sharp because they figured his cap hit would be too large if they wished to resign the franchise players. It looks like that was one of the most effective moves the Hawks have made – to lock up a super star role player.
Sure, you can point Sharp’s success to being on the top line along side Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but he proved to be one of the most consistent offensive options for the Blackhawks as the season progressed. Earlier in the season, he saw time on the ice with Dave Bolland on the power play unit and Sharp seems to shine when he skates with a playmaking center.
Many people don’t know that this past off-season when he celebrated winning the Stanley Cup, he also got married. That made quite a memorable summer for Sharp and he didn’t lose any momentum coming back to the 2010-2011 season. Three weeks before the playoffs started, Sharp sustained a left knee injury and it seemed unlikely that Sharp would return to the Blackhawks until the opening round of the playoff (that is if the team even made it that far). However, Sharp’s injury did allow Sweedish prospect Marcus Kruger to make a name for himself centering the third line.
Even though the Hawks eventually lost to Vancouver in overtime of Game 7 after being down 0-3, Hawks fans saw how important certain players are to help making another championship run next season. Kane and Toews can’t do it by themselves, you know? I can argue that Sharp is the headliner of that list with others like Bolland and Michael Frolik.
The question at hand now is whether or not the Hawks are looking to re-sign the left winger to a contract extension before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year. He wants to stay with Chicago and GM Stan Bowman sounds optimistic about his chances of re-signing him.
“I suspect it will be like it was with those other guys,” Bowman said, referring to the other core players that have been locked up to long-term deals. “You start the negotiations, and hopefully it doesn’t carry on too long. We have a pretty good track record of being able to get those core guys to want to stay here. I’m sure Sharp is in that group as well.”