With Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and dynamic forward Patrick Kane entering the final year of their matching five-year, $31.5 million contracts, Chicago general manager Stan Bowman and agent Pat Brisson are aiming to have the new deals finalized by July 1, according to Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus.
"That’s been our No. 1 objective all along," Bowman said following the NHL’s Wednesday GM meeting, according to the Sun-Times. "And I’m expecting to meet that."
After capturing the Stanley Cup in 2010, Toews and Kane resigned with the Blackhawks and led the team to a second Stanley Cup last season before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals this postseason. Both have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVPs – Toews in 2010 and Kane in 2013.
Last week, Bowman made similar comments about Toews and Kanes’ contracts to ESPN, saying the duo rejuvenated the once-struggling organization:
"It’s the highest priority for us looking at next year," Bowman said. "There’s no doubt that’s what we’re going to do. I’ve made it clear. We’ve never wavered from that. There’s no doubting the importance of those two players.
"At the beginning, I sort of talked about the franchise in general and the direction we’ve taken, and it’s really been tandem with those two players. When Patrick and Jonathan came onto the scene, it really sort of breathed life into the franchise and into our team. I think there was excitement. Certainly the success of the team has helped reach the level that it’s at now. They’ve played a huge part in this."
According to the Sun-Times, Bowman is obviously thinking about how the deals will work with other potential roster moves and ultimately the salary cap.
“I always have concerns,” Bowman said, laughing. “That’s part of my job, to be looking forward. You can’t look year to year; you’ve got to look two or three years out. We know a year from now, there should be some kind of a bump with the new [Canadian] TV deal, but you don’t want to assume anything. You have to plan your moves two and three years ahead, which we’re doing.”