I don't really agree with saying cap mismanagement with the Hawks because they consistently prove that they are able to work around their 2 stars' contracts each year by doing what they need to do (trades, letting guys go, trading for rentals at the deadline etc). It's exactly what they knew they'd have to do when they signed them both. If it wasn't working you'd have a point but it is working. They are consistent contenders and that's not changing because they had to trade Shaw and Teravainen. You could say the exact same thing about the Pittsburgh Penguins to a lesser degree. Teams are winning with the pay your stars strategy. It can work.
It goes beyond recent off-seasons and beyond Toews/Kane; the Hawks have been doing this dance since 2010 because they gave exorbitant UFA deals to Huet, Khabibluin, Campbell (a good player tho but they had to move on from him quickly). Yes they vary in talent/importance, but here is a list of most of the players they've had to move on from purely because of money:
- Campbell (a terrible contract himself)
- Versteeg (who looked like a legit top 6 guy at time of trade)
If anything it's a testament to how well the Hawks are at identifying and developing talent. That is where how you win Stanley Cups. The Kane/Toews contracts I *think* just kicked in this year so we will see how dedicating 21 million between 2 players works out in the long run.
Off the top of my head, if you go back and look at the Stanley Cup teams since Lockout #1
, the only 2 really key UFA high ticket deals that payed off huge (meaning said team doesn't win the Cup without signing said player) are Neidermeyer and Chara. Very interesting that both are dmen. yes Hawks won Cups with Hossa, but don't think it's that bold of a statement to say the Hawks still win Cups without Hossa because of how deep their organization was. Hossa prevented them from keeping someone like Buff or Saad (not saying Hossa directly, but saying his money could've been used to lock one of them up)
and let's look at Pittsburgh: all of their really key players were drafted or via trade (like Phil; him being a trade acquisition is key for them because he didn't have a contract signed on the free market attached to him and the Leafs are also retaining salary on it). During their 1st Cup win, Pens biggest UFA was Gonchar (another dman, who'd have thought?) Go look at the Kings, too, they were built on drafting and trading (although the Gaborik and Brown deals are poison to them now). The big impact player who they signed as a UFA on those teams were Willie Mitchell & Rob Scuderi (what's this? 2 more dmen?).
Let me ask you this JM (asking this not knowing if you're for/against Stamkos going to TO at any
cost): do you believe in Nylander, Marner, and Matthews?
If you do, then you have to expect they are all gonna need to be paid 7+ million themselves in the near future.
By the time those players are 25/26 and maybe/maybe not needing huge contracts themselves (depending on bridge deals etc), Stamkos will be in his 30's with his best days behind him making 10+ million. When the Rielly contract ends I *think* Stamkos will have theoretically 1 more year left and, if Rielly continues to improve like people think, he's gonna need to get paid like the player he hopefully turns into as well. At about that time having 10+ million tied up in Stamkos and his one trick probably will not feel so great. Yes, he provides a certain amount of leadership and experience, but you can sign grizzled vets and positive influence who can teach the young guns how to be pros for 1/4 of what Stamkos would cost. It also removes flexibility for adding depth in future UFA years, too (and at some point they're gonna have to give Rielly other dmen to play with; top 4 or better dmen cost 3.5-7 million depending on the caliber of player).
That's why I think Buffalo and Toronto going after Stamkos is a huge mistake for both teams. Both have exceptional young talent who are all close in age and who will need to be paid accordingly at around the same time if/when they reach their potential. Short term it feels nice and exciting. However, if you believe in your own players and believe in their development, then it's a completely short sighted move IMO
I'm captain obvious here, but winner's win through the draft, development, and trading; seldom do the teams who "win" on July 1 actually win anything at all.