The Chicago Blackhawks finally reached an agreement with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on Wednesday, signing the duo to identical eight-year, $84 million contracts that each carry an annual $10.5M salary cap hit.
Initial reactions to the deals aren’t as positive as they should be. Many people in hockey circles haven’t adjusted their salary expectations to the NHL‘s ever-inflating cap ceiling. The new contracts are the most expensive in the league, but they are simply the harbingers of change rather than individual anomalies; the rest of the league’s star players will catch up. $10.5M for one player is quite a bit, but it isn’t quite as much as it sounds like.
Extensions kick in starting in 2015-16, when cap should be $75-million. $10.5-million on that cap is like $7-million on a $50-million cap.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) July 9, 2014
The extensions for Kane and Toews allow for the Blackhawks to offer a reasonable bridge deal to Brandon Saad in the neighborhood of $4M. Chicago’s willingness to hold off on using Teuvo Teravainen last season saved a year on his entry-level contract, which certainly looks like a brilliant decision now.
As far as Kane and Toews themselves are concerned, these contracts are very fair. As is always the case when an NHL team re-signs its stars, they each could have gotten quite a bit more on the free agent market (in a world where Brooks Orpik is getting $5.5M, your next-door neighbor could probably nab a few million from a desperate team). The Blackhawks locked up their two franchise cornerstones for the remainder of their primes at what will ultimately be a very affordable price.
There will always be fans and media trying to spin everything negatively, and there will be plenty who suggest that the Kane and Toews extensions are too expensive. For some perspective and a telling comparison, there were quite a few people who thought the $6.3M-per-year contracts that the duo inked in late 2009 were overpayments. Ignore such silliness.
Two of the best hockey players in the world will be in Chicago for another eight years, and very likely a handful of seasons beyond that point as well. It is a new league with a new cap and booming profits that have scarcely been seen before in hockey. No matter which way you slice it, these two extensions were fantastic deals for the Blackhawks.