How Much Did Dale Tallon Hurt Chicago Last Summer? – Bird Watchers Anonymous

Last summer the Chicago Blackhawks were declared the big “winners” of free agency. But one year later that summer spending spree is shaping up as A FRANCHISE CRIPPLING EVENT –one that will lower the ceiling on an other wise outstanding collection of young talent. Last season the Blackhawks were not only one of the very best teams in the NHL teams, they were also one of the very youngest. All things being equal they should improve as part of the maturation process–even without adding any new talent.

The true test of a GM sitting on a gold mine of talent is not not screw it up (Mike Milbury = fail as NYI GM) and to find the key complimentary pieces that patch roster holes. This summer Chicago GM Tallon essentially swapped out Marian Hossa for Martin Havlat, unlike Eric Duhatschek I count that as a modest upgrade given Hossa’s health record and outstanding penalty kill skills. (Oh course he also had to throw $1.2 million at the gift-with-purchase Tomas Kopecky too.)

But the decisions that will haunt the Blackhawks for years were made last summer, when the team handed out $5.6 to G Christobal Huet and $7.1 million per year to Brian Campbell. That’s nearly $13 million in cap space allotted to a not-really-elite netminder and a defensemen who is skilled only at one end of the ice. Throw in the fact that Chicago already had an underperforming Stanley Cup goalie under contract and things only look worse.

Fast forward to the Free Agent Frenzy of 2009 and you can see that if Chicago had been content to wait out the final year of Nikolai Khabibulin’s contract, they could have landed an average goalie (Martin Biron) for far less than what they are paying Huet ($5.6 million) now. In fact, the goalie market is ended up being flooded with the return of Ray Emery and the arrival of “The Monster” from Sweden. There are only 30 starting jobs and more than 30 aspiring starters. In fact the goalie tandem of the Philadelphia Flyers (a playoff team) are still without jobs.

Now let’s move forward in time to next summer. Let’s say that NHL revenues hold steady next season–if revenue growth is flat the salary cap will fall by nearly $3 million next season. Why? Because the NHLPA invoked the 5% kicker. The kicker is essentially an assumption revenue will be growing and that teams can spend that revenue growth in the sames season that it is generated. So the 2009-2010 cap number assumes revenue growth of 5% but most people consider this assumption VERY unlikely. What if it falls as many expect? What if it falls by 5%? Well then the cap is going to drop not just $3 million but perhaps as much as $4-6 million. If the upper limit of the cap drops by $4 million it will be at about $54 next summer.


It’s longer; read the rest at How Much Did Dale Tallon Hurt Chicago Last Summer? – Bird Watchers Anonymous.


  2 comments for “How Much Did Dale Tallon Hurt Chicago Last Summer? – Bird Watchers Anonymous

  1. 4thliner
    July 9, 2009 at 8:43 AM

    Is this true?, My comment and his response are below…..

    The Flyers are in one of the worst cap situations in the league!!!! They are over the cap with 4 players to sign!…e-a-k-a-the-idiots-chart/

    I would love to see Hartnell in LA, but not for JJ, I hope we get him when Philly is desperate to dump salary……… By the way Philly is my 2nd favorite team, but I think they have committed to some ugly contracts.
    – 4thlinegoon

    you need to look at the details in PHI, not just some random LA Kings pipe dream chart. 3.5 million of the so-called cap hit for PHI is actually LTIR for Mike Rathje – which obviously doesn’t count once the season starts. there is at least 2 million of cap space left.

  2. qwisp
    July 9, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    It turns out that nhlnumbers is for some reason counting the Rathje numbers in the PHI cap hit. Which makes no sense because it should be completely off the books. I think the problem is that PHI is the ONLY team in the league with any LTIR (long-term-injured-reserve) on the books, so it literally doesn’t come up except in the case of PHI. It makes no sense to me that nhlnumbers would, for example, list the salaries of players not with the big club i.e. AHL players — but not include them in the cap total since they aren’t “on the roster”– and yet not do the same with LTIR. Again, I think it’s because no-one is on LTIR, league-wide, except Rathje.

    I have subtracted the LTIR from the PHI totals in the version of the chart I posted above. Note that the result is, instead of Philly being about a mil over the cap, they are about 2 under the cap, with 5 players left to sign. That’s an average of $400K per signing, which is just as impossible as having no room. Therefore, the outcome is the same. They will have to dump somebody.

    If their idea in Philly is to go exactly to the cap ceiling and hope for the best, they could promote and/or re-sign all of their prospects and that would cost them no less than $3MM, using PHI’s own figures. Assuming they have 2.1MM in cap space, this means they will be $900K over the cap. In order to get under the cap, they have to dump someone and replace that someone with a body that’s $900K cheaper. If Philly is trying to avoid dumping one of their star players, there are exactly two players on the team who aren’t stars with big contracts and yet whose contracts are big enough to get them the cap space they need, and that’s Jones and Carle.

    Underline: $2MM of cap space to sign (or promote from AHL) 5 players. That still puts them in, as you put it in your comment on the other board, “one of the worst cap situations in the league.” Only OTT and SJS are in a worse position, with CHI right there with the three of them, depending on how you look at CHI’s bonus situation.

    (re Chicago’s bonus cushion: Chicago is allowed to go over the cap during the season to pay bonuses, but the overage amount comes off of their cap ceiling the following year. In their situation, this would be suicide. Or maybe they’re thinking that somehow Kane won’t earn his bonus, which of course would be insane, and it’s his contract year to boot.)

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