The organization has emphatically answered those questions in the affirmative.
Sharp and the club have agreed on a five-year extension that will begin in the 2012-13 season. According to capgeek.com, it looks as though the deal will pay Sharp $29.5 million over the course of the contract.
Details will come out in the coming days, but it appears that the contract is not front-loaded. This may be important if NHL salary cap rules are changed with a new collective bargaining agreement next summer.
Of course, the signing does raise several questions even as it provides reassurance regarding the future of the 29-year-old winger/center.
Was the price tag on Sharp a bit much?
Maybe, but only slightly when you look at the bargain he's been the last two seasons and will be again in 2011-12 with a cap hit of $3.9 million. Yes, that fifth season may be a bit hard to take at $5.9 million, as it's hard to forecast what kind of player Sharp will remain as he hits his mid-30's.
Is Sharpie now a high-priced wing, or a high-priced center?
Until Chicago has more depth at the position via trade or developing prospects, I have to think he's going to see time at both positions. Perhaps that versatility factored into the negotiations.
I'm sure there will be cries of "We're paying the guy too much not to have him where he is more dangerous!" but until there are better options, he'll spend time in the middle.
Are the 'Hawks finished locking down their core?
Definitely. For better or worse, GM Stan Bowman has secured the key components of the franchise for the next few seasons. It's up to them to show us the core is worth the cost. Next up for Bowman: ensuring the young guns the team has stockpiled are ready to start contributing next season.
Look for other questions to spring up as camp approaches. After all, there's lot's of time to mull Sharp's new deal in the next few weeks.