The NHL's New Dynasty: What's Next?
The Chicago Blackhawks have now won their third Stanley Cup in six years and did it at home for the first time since 1938.
But it didn't take long for the spotlight to shift.
Soon after the game and celebration, rumors started flowing about what's next for the champions.
Looming are two big salary cap hits on the big contracts of Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews. That could mean a player like Patrick Sharp would need to be be moved. Other teams are standing at the ready.
Márian Hossa has a monster contract, and while he's played in five finals since 2008, he could be had for the right deal.
Brad Richards signed a one-year pact after leading the Rangers to the finals in 2014 and had a steady year for Chicago on and off the ice. The Rangers would love to have him back, and Chicago is thinking the same. In fact, Tampa Bay might not mind a second stint, either.
And don't forget Marcus Kruger, who played an important role on the way to the Stanley Cup. He may have to take a pay cut or find a home somewhere else.
Interestingly enough, Tampa Bay has the option of standing pat. The Lightning have only one significant unrestricted free agent: Brenden Morrow. No wonder the Bolts are considered favorites for making the Stanley Cup Final again in 2016.
The salary cap for next season has risen, but not so much that tough decisions must be made elsewhere, too. Quality players could be wearing new colors quite soon. Here are a few who are up for grabs and/or not being re-signed:
- Rick Nash of the Rangers,
- Kyle Okposo of the Islanders,
- Antti Niemi of San José,
- Cody Hodgson of Buffalo,
- Craig Anderson of Ottawa,
- Marty St Louis of the Rangers, and
- Barret Jackman of the Blues.
With the draft coming up, there should be trades galore before free agency starts. So, as is usually the case, you won't be able to tell your team without a program on opening night in October.