Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are rich, but they could have been richer

Ken Campbell
Kane and Toews

Bobby Hull has a statue outside the United Center in Chicago and he won only one Stanley Cup for 15 years with the franchise. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have won two each in less than half the time. And by signing identical eight-year, $84 million deals, there’s a good chance they’ll be adding more silverware to their portfolios in the coming years.

So logic would dictate that both Kane and Toews will be bronzed themselves someday. And if they don’t get their own likenesses on Madison Avenue, they can take comfort in the fact that they’ll have enough money to buy a plot of land outside the arena and erect their own statues.

Toews and Kane will make $84 million each from 2015-16 to ’22-23 after signing their identical eight-year extensions Wednesday. And as hard as it may be for the working stiff to fathom, the best thing about it is that neither of them is going to be overpaid. If anything, the Blackhawks got themselves a bargain.

Think about it. They have not one, but two once-in-a-generation talents who agreed to take far lower than what their market value would be on long-term deals. That shows that, like all of us, they really like money. But what it also shows is that they really want to continue a winning thing in Chicago and were willing to leave money on the table in order to help the Blackhawks keep them under the salary cap. Lots of money.

There’s little doubt that if the two of them had waited another season for unrestricted free agency, they would have had all kinds of teams offering them seven-year deals – the maximum a player can be offered by a team other than is own – for $12 million each. That adds up to $84 million, which is exactly what they’re getting from the Blackhawks for one more year of work. Forget about the massive amounts of money for a second. How many people do you know who are willing to essentially work a year for free?

And that would have been the amount teams would have been willing to pay to get them as a package deal. Had the two of them gone on the market separately after this upcoming season, they would have received more. Toews, who is considered by some hockey people to be the best player in the game, probably would have received more than Kane, but it’s not outrageous to suggest that teams would have been willing to offer each of them 20 percent of the salary cap on a yearly basis. Assuming the cap rises by five percent in 2015-16, that would put it at $72.45 million. Under the deal with the Blackhawks, Toews and Kane will each take up 14.5 percent of the cap. But teams would have been able to offer each of them up to $14.5 million a season.

Even going by this coming season’s cap of $69 million, each player could have been offered up to $13.8 million, based on the 20 percent figure. It’s not a certainty, but there are probably no teams in the league, however, who would be comfortable with two players taking up 40 percent of the team’s salary cap, which means the two would have had to split up in order to get that kind of money.

So let’s continue with the five percent cap growth, which is probably a little low considering the Canadian TV deal money that will start coming in. If the cap rises by five percent each season, by the end of these deals it will be at about $102 million, which means each player will be accounting for just 10.3 percent of the Blackhawks cap. Assuming the cap goes up with each passing year, the percentage of cap space Toews and Kane take up will decrease.

Under a $72.45 million cap in 2015-16, the Blackhawks will have about 68 percent of their cap space tied up in just seven players – Kane, Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford. That’s $49.5 million, but look at the players they have. Among that group are 13 Stanley Cups, six Olympic gold medals, two Conn Smythe and two Norris Trophies, a Calder Trophy and a Selke Trophy.

The Blackhawks have in Toews a player who is among the best two-way players in the game and probably the best leader in the league. In Kane, they have the one of the most dynamic players in the NHL who creates offense by lugging the puck and keeping it on his stick and is capable of making plays that are every bit as eye-popping as the ones made by Pavel Datsyuk. He gives up the puck about as easily as Datsyuk does, too. And he has proved time and again that he is one of the league’s most reliable clutch players.

And we haven’t even touched on how much wealth they’re going to create for their employer in the form of capacity crowds, long playoff runs, merchandising sales. The Blackhawks local television deal comes up for renewal after the 2018-19 season and it will be worth millions more with these two players as part of the landscape.

So yes, Toews and Kane will receive a ridiculous amount of money for playing a game over the next eight years. But they’re not overpaid. And they’re not selfish. And if things work out, the Blackhawks will look upon this double transaction as one of the biggest steals they’ve ever executed.