Lets set things straight. Patrick Sharp isn’t going anywhere.
…for the time being.
It is all but set in stone that when the Blackhawks take the ice on October 9th against the Dallas Stars your beloved #10 will be in his familiar position on a wing along with fellow linemates Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Will he last the entire season with the Blackhawks, though, is anyone’s guess.
As you are aware, the Blackhawks are approaching the 2014-2015 season $2.2 million ($2, 216, 795 to be exact) over the $69 million cap limit. This means, you guessed it, the Blackhawks must shed $2.2 million worth of cap space by the start of the season. Lets assume prospect Teuvo Teravainen begins the season in Rockford. This cuts $894, 167 from the $2.2 million the Blackhawks are over, leaving the team $1.3 million over the limit instead. This doesn’t seem like much, but in the NHL salary cap game, $900, 000 a small fortune.
This could very well mean the departure (via trade) of any player making over $1.3 million. The popular names thrown around for the past month include defensemen Johnny Oduya ($3.3 million), Michal Rozsival ($2.2 million), Brent Seabrook ($5.8 million) and forwards Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million) and Bryan Bickell ($4 million).
“Well you just answered your own question. Michal Rozsival is by far the worst player on that list, trade him!”
First off, its not that easy.
During the salary-cap era, hockey has evolved into a strategic game of numbers.
Second, and foremost, in order to trade a player, a a potential trade partner must first want that player. Would you trade for a mediocre, 35-year old, $2.2 million cap hit if you were looking to build a championship team?
I didn’t think so.
This is why a player like Kris Versteeg ($2.2 million) is never even mentioned on lists of potential trade subjects. No one wants him – aside from Stan Bowman, that is.
At this point in time, it seems most realistic that a player like Johnny Oduya is likeliest to be shipped out. He’s experienced, durable, reasonably affordable and, most importantly, isn’t completely useless. The most important factor is that there are plenty of teams paper-thin on defense that would gladly inquire about his services.
Now lets enter that wonderful world of theoretics.
You may or may not want to crucify me for implying this, but a trade involving Patrick Sharp would make the most sense for Blackhawks moving forward.
Sharp is a wonderful person and an even better asset to the Blackhawks offense. The problem is Sharp’s age, durability, and contract.
Coming off the most productive season of his NHL career, Sharp’s trade value is at an all-time high.
The demand for scoring is prevalent around the NHL. Next to defense, true scoring depth seems to be the most scarce feature among NHL rosters.
This brings me to the most logical trade scenario I observed prior to the opening of the free agent market on July 1st:
Patrick Sharp to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Erik Gudbranson and a top prospect.
Note: Gudbranson signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Panthers on July 14th.
Why it makes sense:
The Blackhawks need defensive depth. Prospects Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck and Stephen Johns are progressing nicely through the Blackhawks system but who’s to say they are NHL ready just yet? Gudbranson was the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and has both NHL experience and limitless upside.
The Blackhawks would also save $3.4 million with this deal – comfortably placing themselves around $1.2 million under the cap limit – money that could very well be used to resign winger Brandon Saad who is set to become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.
Ultimately Sharp would have to waive his no-trade clause in order for such a deal to be made. You might ask “why would Sharp want to play in Florida?” Aside from the obvious fact that the temperature in the sunshine state very seldom drops below 70 degrees, Sharp would be reuniting with the man who brought the once-unknown winger to Chicago in the first place, Dale Tallon.
Sharp’s production may take a slight hit, but not a significant one – especially if he plays on a line with gifted youngsters Alex Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. He may even thrive on such a line.
Even with Sharp, the Florida Panthers would still be a team years away from playoff contention. It is likely that Tallon would attempt to trade Sharp at the deadline to a team desperate for scoring. It would work out well for both sides. Sharp would, once again, land with a contender and the Panthers would receive future pieces for the 32-year old’s services.
Ultimately, at the conclusion of his career, Sharp could view his tenure with the Florida Panthers as a four-month long vacation.