Chicago Blackhawks: What Does Brent Seabrook's New Contract Mean for the 'Hawks?
Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks locked up defenseman Brent Seabrook to a five-year, $29 million deal.
This means Seabrook will have a salary and cap hit of $5.8 million until the end of 2015-2016 season.
But what else does this mean for the Blackhawks and essentially the rest of the league?
It's probably not a coincidence the contract was extended one day before the NHL trade deadline. Reports have stated that negotiations between Stan Bowman and Brent Seabrook have really sped up over the past week or so.
So, why now? My guess is that Bowman wanted to send a message to the league that Seabrook is not up for grabs at the deadline, so don't waste his time.
He probably also wanted to ease some of the anxiety the fans may have been suffering from after some rumors involving a trade with the Edmonton Oilers surfaced.
Don't worry fellow fans, Seabrook will be a 'Hawk for five more years and he seems pretty happy about the idea of staying with the Blackhawks.
“I’m very excited," Seabrook said. "Chicago has been my home for the last six years, and I love it here. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and I think we’re going to have a lot more ups than downs in the future. I’m really proud to be a part of this for another five years.”
I think everyone is happy to hear Seabrook with remain in a Blackhawks sweater for at least five more seasons.
So, how does this impact the Blackhawks salary cap situation and will it influence serious roster changes?
The biggest problem will be icing a deep team next season, with such a limited amount of cap space to sign solid third and fourth liners.
With only 12 players signed for next season, the Blackhawks will only have $10 million to fill 11 open spaces.
Due up for big raises this summer are players like Troy Brouwer and Corey Crawford, who could easily consume around $4 million between the two of them.
Other expiring contracts include Michael Frolik, Tomas Kopecky, Viktor Stalberg, Jake Dowell, Fernando Pisani, Ryan Johnson, Jordan Hendry and Marty Turco.
Seabrook's new contract likely means that the Blackhawks will let the more pricey players like Kopecky, Stalberg and Turco walk this summer if they aren't traded at the deadline today.
It also means that the Blackhawks will probably pursue extensions with cheap but effective players like Fernando Pisani, Jake Dowell, Ryan Johnson and Jordan Hendry to give the team at least some depth.
I'm sure Stan Bowman has a long-term plan for Michael Frolik because the trade won't have a big short-term impact.
It also means the possibility of Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson being shipped out of town this offseason is more probable. These are guys with controversial salaries that the Blackhawks will have difficulty fitting into the cap.
I believe Bowman is fairly satisfied with his team this season. He was quoted saying, “If we end up with the group we have in the locker room now, I’m very comfortable with that, but we’re aggressively trying to improve the team.”
Bowman has been on the phone non-stop in pursuit of a centerman and a defenseman that can make a difference for the Blackhawks, but he's made it very clear that Seabrook is not on the table.
What will the long-term implications of Seabrook's new deal be?
The pro is the Blackhawks will have one of the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL for five more seasons. Seabrook is an Olympic gold medalist and a Stanley Cup champion, playing a key role on both of those teams.
The con is that it could potentially hurt their depth in the future. Next season, the Blackhawks will have over $22 million committed to their top four defensemen.
Now that the issue of Seabrook's extension is history, there is no question that Bowman will have to do some offseason adjustment to make sure the Blackhawks can ice a competitive team next year.
On the bright side, there is no way this summer will be as bad as last summer.
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