For some strange reason the Chicago Blackhawks are still haunted by their departed players.
As of yesterday, the Atlanta Thrashers gave Dustin Byfuglien, another former Blackhawk, a five-year contract extension worth $26 million.
Nearly every Blackhawks fan quickly jumped the gun and questioned what this means for Brent Seabrook’s hopeful extension with the Blackhawks.
Seabrook’s extension has been the talk of Chicago hockey since early November. Originally, Stan Bowman was close to re-signing Seabrook, but then the talks stopped, and then they started back up again. You can clearly see this process has been consistent for this unpleasant season.
Out of nowhere there was the rumor of Seabrook being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. Without hesitation, Bowman put a stop to that and addressed the need and want for Seabrook to continue as a Blackhawk.
Seabrook himself has asserted numerous times how he’d like to remain in Chicago for the entirety of his career.
Does this suggest Seabrook would take a hometown discount for Chicago? Taking into account all of the salary cap troubles they were in last season and will face this season...it would be overwhelming if he did.
Byfuglien’s extension placed Seabrook’s hometown discount on back order.
Now that Byfuglien will be bringing home $5.2 million for the next five seasons, this brings down Chicago fans' hope of Seabrook signing for $4-5 million.
But does the Byfuglien signing really affect the optimistic Seabrook and Chicago deal?
Byfuglien is playing his first season with the Thrashers and has been given the opportunity to play on the blue line once again. He has shocked everyone thus far in Atlanta, as well as his long-lost Chicago fans.
He is having a tremendous season, standing at 43 points (17G, 26A) in just 58 games as a defenseman. He has already surpassed last season’s total of 34 points (17G, 17A). Considering Byfuglien’s short career, it may be fair to say that the Thrashers overpaid, but consider that they have double the amount of money to spread to their team to keep their valued players.
The Blackhawks have a diminutive amount of cap space to spread around to their prized players. With a long list of free agents coming up once again, a deal to Seabrook edging toward “Byfuglien money” may break the team apart once again.
With Troy Brouwer, Tomas Kopecky, Jake Dowell and both Marty Turco and Corey Crawford all free agents at the end of this season as well, Seabrook may have to take a discount on what may be expected in order to stay.
Seabrook’s numbers have improved over the years, as well as his play. With this season as an omission, Seabrook has been one of the best defensemen on the ice in the current day. He is also frequently paired with Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith. These two have been an unstoppable force for the Blackhawks and were a key part to winning the Stanley Cup this past summer.
Will Byfuglien’s contract play a big role in Bowman and Seabrook’s negotiating?
For the sake of the Blackhawks organization, let’s hope not. They do not have that type of money to spend on another player, and it would be nice to include some of the other free agents this season as part of the team's core.
Seabrook is worth every penny he gets, but let’s hope there is enough to go around for others.
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