How far will the Rangers get this season?

The Price Of Success
The Blackhawks built their championship team mainly from within as many would like the Rangers to do. But this offseason has proven that the Salary Cap can hurt even teams built "the right way"...

Kris Versteeg was traded to Toronto

Kris Versteeg was traded to Toronto

Since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals the Blackhawks have traded five players from their active roster (Ben Eager, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Brent Sopel). 

These five players accounted for 22 of the ‘Hawks 78 playoff goals and 62 of the team’s 271 regular season tallies.  Of the 22 playoff markers, eight were game-winners, meaning half of Chicago’s playoff victories were decided by these players. 

Chicago is also likely to lose two more players, John Madden and Nick Boynton, via free agency, or possibly retirement in Boynton’s case, before the summer is over.  And don’t forget that during the year the ‘Hawks traded promising young defenseman Cam Barker.

It’s not uncommon for a championship team to lose a few key parts in the ensuing offseason, but usually this happens through free agency when other teams overpay solid, if not spectacular players because of their roles on the winning team.  But the Blackhawks lost their five key players because they simply couldn’t afford to keep the gang together. 

There’s no mistaking who Chicago considers to be its core following all these moves.  Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Antti Niemi are the unquestioned leaders of the ‘Hawks.  But given their financial state, the Blackhawks were forced to part with some of their talented young players they would have much preferred to keep.

Chicago was only in position to win the Stanley Cup in the first place because of impressive drafting and player development, but the success in this area that brought the Blackhawks a championship cost them many of the players that helped deliver it. 

The truth is that while most successful NHL teams have realized that building from within is the best recipe for success, nowhere in the NHL rules does it say that it’s the only or recommended way to build a team.  The ‘Hawks have done an enviable job in getting to the top of the mountain, but the constraints of the Salary Cap apply the same for them as for teams hiring mercenaries. 

It’s disheartening to watch an organization build its roster “the right way” and have to dismantle it weeks after winning it all, but such are the consequences of success.  The Blackhawks won because they groomed players into stars, and they lost those players because they developed into stars that deserved significant pay raises. 

The Blackhawks deserve kudos for building a team of mainly homegrown talent, but it doesn’t mean they get a reward. 

The truth is there’s no infallible way to build a team.  Building from within seems like the best way but the ‘Hawks have proven that it can present the same problems as signing free agents to massive deals.  The Salary Cap ensures that a team can only pay a certain number of top players, whether they’re from within the organization or elsewhere. 

The ultimate goal in the NHL is sustained success.  The Blackhawks won a title this year, and are undoubtedly a contender for next season.  But considering the impact the players they parted with had throughout the season, Chicago is certainly weaker now than it was a few months ago.  Though they’ve maintained their young identity, it can’t have been easy for management or fans to wave goodbye to key cogs of their title team. 

The good news for the ‘Hawks is that they turned most of their former assets into future assets, by acquiring draft picks and prospects who could one day fill the same roles as the players they replaced. 

But it’s no guarantee.  Maybe Nick Leddy, Jeremy Morin, Kevin Hayes, Justin Holl, Viktor Stalberg, Ivan Vishnevsky, Philippe Paradis, Christopher DiDomenico, et al. will one day help guide the ‘Hawks through the playoffs to another title.  But maybe some of Chicago’s newest prospects will not develop as well as the former Blackhawks and the team will struggle a bit with its depth.

Chicago achieved every team’s ultimate goal, but just as quickly the Blackhawks were forced to take apart their team.  Considering the stars they’ve retained, the ‘Hawks are a good bet to contend for several years.  But they couldn’t avoid the wrath of the Salary Cap, for better or worse. 


Posted by Kevin Baumer | July 14, 2010 at 02:03 pm

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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