(CBS) The Blackhawks have signed stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to eight-year contract extensions, they announced Wednesday. The deals will keep the two in Chicago through 2022-'23.
The average annual value of the contracts for Toews and Kane is $10.5 million, according to TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger. That would make them the two highest-paid players in the NHL (per average annual value) and would bring the total value of their contracts to $84 million.
"When we started our journey, we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization," Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said. "There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago. We are excited for our future and proud that they will continue to be a part of that commitment and success for years to come."
The duo entered the NHL together in 2007-'08, and the Blackhawks have had remarkable success with them as cornerstones. Chicago has won the Stanley Cup twice and advanced to the Western Conference Finals four times since 2010.
Kane, 25, and Toews, 26, signed identical five-year deals worth $31.5 million midway through the 2009-'10 season. The had one year left on their deals when their new contracts were announced today.
"The signings of Jonathan and Patrick symbolize an important milestone in franchise history," Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough said. "We are driven by the pursuit of consistent excellence and today is a huge step forward."
A center who is considered by some as the NHL's best all-around player, Toews has recorded 440 points in 484 regular-season games with the Blackhawks in his career. He had 28 goals and 40 assists last season.
"I could not be more grateful for the amazing moments and opportunities I've been given by the Chicago Blackhawks," said Toews, Chicago's captain. "There's no organization in sports that cares more about the overall experience of their fans and the success of their players. To have the chance to continue with this amazing group of teammates and people throughout the organization is an incredible honor. There's nothing we want more as players than to continue to win Stanley Cups for the best hockey fans on the planet."
A dynamic winger, Kane has recorded 493 points in 515 regular-season games in his Chicago career. He had 29 goals and 40 assists last season.
"It's great to be able to continue my career in Chicago," Kane added. "Playing with the best organization in sports and the best fans in the game is a blessing. Since I was drafted by the Blackhawks, the people of Chicago have really embraced me and treated me with nothing but respect. I look forward to many more years of success with the Blackhawks."
Toews was the third overall pick in the 2006 draft, while Kane was the first overall pick in the 2007 draft.
A formal press conference to announce the signings will be held next week at the United Center, though a day and time hasn't yet been announced.
The extensions and pay raises for Toews and Kane also have salary cap ramifications for the Blackhawks moving forward. Here's the quick breakdown from 670 The Score hockey expert Jay Zawaski:
The $10.5-millon-per-year value doesn't kick in for Kane and Toews until the 2015-'16 season. This season, their cap hits will be $6.3 million each, and the Blackhawks will still be $2.2 million over the salary cap for this upcoming season. Chicago has to get under the hard cap by the season's start, which means a player of significance will have to be moved.
Many believe it will be defenseman Johnny Oduya ($3.375 million) or Nick Leddy ($2.7 million).
Looking further ahead, Patrick Sharp (owed $5.9 million thru 2016-17) would solve the bigger problem for the 2015-'16 season, when the new deals for Toews and Kane kick in.
The Blackhawks have $3,242,372 in cap space for 2015-'16, but that doesn'tinclude Brandon Saad, Oduya, Michal Rozsival, David Rundblad, Leddy, Peter Regin or Marcus Kruger. They will prioritize signing Saad and Kruger out of that group, I'd think. You can probably lock up both for around $7 million combined.
While it's expected the cap could go as high as $74 million for 2015-'16, that's no certainty. It will go up, but it's dangerous to estimate what exactly the number will be. Everyone assumed this upcoming season's salary cap would be $71 million, and it's really $69 million.
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