The Chicago Blackhawks addressed their most glaring need when they signed Brian Campbell to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract Tuesday and, along with the signing of goalie Cristobal Huet, have essentially changed the complexion of their team.
The Blackhawks already have a promising young defense corps, but what it was lacking was a puck-moving defenseman with a high panic threshold and they got that in Campbell.
But they overpaid for him, plain and simple both in term and in money. That cap hit of $7.1 million per year might look really, really ugly in six years when Campbell is a 35-year-old offensive specialist. Campbell won’t change his game and suddenly become Rob Blake circa 1995, but expectations for him will skyrocket.
And if it weren’t crystal clear that Nikolai Khabibulin’s days as a Blackhawk were over when Chicago signed Huet, it was all but spelled out when they acquired Campbell. According to nhlnumbers.com, the Campbell signing gives the Blackhawks a payroll of $58.6 million, which is almost $1 million over the salary cap.
However, teams can be 10 percent over the cap during the off-season, as long as they shed the excess by the start of the next season. There’s little doubt the Blackhawks will dump Khabibulin’s $6.75 million salary in short order, with the Tampa Bay Lightning being the most obvious destination.
After all, the Lightning’s new owners are spending like drunken sailors on shore leave, so what’s another $6.75 million, particularly when you’re borrowing somebody else’s money to get these guys?
The Lightning is shopping No. 1 man Mike Smith and even they’re not gullible enough to believe they can go into next season with Olie Kolzig as their No. 1 goalie. Kolzig had the worst save percentage in the league this season.
Keeping an unofficial count here, the Campbell deal put NHL teams over the $300 million mark in money spent so far today.
Of the players whose financial details are known – and including the five-year deal to Evgeni Malkin – teams have so far signed 27 players for a grand total of $307.8625 million over a combined 76 years.
That makes the average term 2.81 years and the average deal worth $11.4 million dollars for a per-season average of $4.06 million.
And a lot of the big names haven’t even gone yet.