As NHL teams continue their frenzied pursuit of defensemen in the trade market, the Chicago Blackhawks decided to commit $29 million to keep one of theirs.
Starting next season, Brent Seabrook will earn $5 million a season for five seasons. He also will receive a $2 million signing bonus next season and another $2 million bonus the following season.
“Brent is a very important member of our organization and we are looking forward to him being part of a core group that will be a contender for many years,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said.
After signing Seabrook, the Blackhawks have about $36.3 million in cap space tied up next season in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Seabrook. If the salary cap goes to $63 million, those six players will represent 57.6% of Chicago’s cap space.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators’ Chris Phillips agreed to a three-year extension Sunday night, taking him out of the trade deadline equation. He had a no-trade clause and expressed an interest in staying in Ottawa but would have had pursuers if he and the team weren’t able to come to terms.
The importance of defensemen has become the theme leading up to Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Already, 19 (including prospects) have switched teams, including prominent names such as Erik Johnson, Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle, in the unusually large number of deals that have occurred in the countdown to the deadline.
More defensemen could be moved Monday, such as the Edmonton Oilers’ Ladislav Smid and New York Islanders’ Radek Martinek.
There also are forwards drawing interest, such as Edmonton’s Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky, plus Dallas Stars center Brad Richards, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Stars, still in the Western Conference playoff race, have motivation to keep Richards. Also, he has concussion-like symptoms, which presumably hurts his trade value.
The Los Angeles Kings have the potential to be the heavyweight in the marketplace because they have cap space and a desire to improve at forward. The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for a defenseman. The Nashville Predators, who acquired Mike Fisher earlier, seem interested in making another move.
Last year’s trade deadline day produced a record 31 deals involving 55 players. However, that was two days after the Olympics, when there was a trade freeze.
This month, there have been 26 trades involving 52 players. On deadline day in 2009, there were 22 trades involving 47 players. There were eight trades in the weeks leading up to that deadline.
Late Sunday, the St. Louis Blues dealt forward Brad Boyes to the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round pick.
And in a minor deal, the Anaheim Ducks acquired right wing Brian McGrattan and defenseman Sean Zimmerman from the Boston Bruins in exchange for center Stefan Chaput and right wing David Laliberte. All will report to their new team’s American Hockey League affiliate.
Many of the potential unrestricted free agents have already moved, but the Florida Panthers still have Marty Reasoner, Radek Dvorak, Darcy Hordichuk and Chris Higgins, although he will be out for three weeks with a broken thumb.
With so many teams still in the race, there are fewer sellers this season, so there might not be as many deals on deadline day. But this year, general managers seem more willing to deal for players with contracts extending beyond this season.