Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp has been a big part of the Blackhawks recent success that includes winning the Stanley Cup three times in six seasons.
The Blackhawks front office knew long before the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs began that they would have to move players this off-season to free up salary cap and Sharp was at the top of that list. Sharp’s name has been part of trade rumors since last year but the Blackhawks kept their left winger for another season that ended with another championship.
The NHL salary cap for next season will be $71.4 million. Sharp’s current contract gives him $5.9 million per season through 2017. The Blackhawks currently have 14 players signed for next season at about $65 million. With less than $7 million to work with this off-season, the Blackhawks are forced to make moves to free up cap space and the most likely Blackhawk to be dealt is Sharp. Sharp will be turning 34-years old next season and his play has been on a decline.
The Blackhawks first priority this off-season is giving restricted free agent Brandon Saad a new contract. Saad, the 22-year old left wing, is already a two-time Stanley Cup champion. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman not only wants to bring Saad back but 25-year old center Marcus Krüger as well. Re-signing Saad to a new deal would put the Blackhawks right at the cap limit so the front office will be forced to trade Sharp and possibly another player to bring back both Saad and Krüger for next season.
Eight teams appear to be interested in trading for Sharp. Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Penguins, Stars and Panthers are the most interested of those eight teams in acquiring the 33-year old left wing. According to various sources, Sharp is expected to be traded by next week.
Sharp finished the 2014-2015 regular season with 16 goals and 27 assists and contributed five goals with 10 assists in the playoffs.