Patrick Sharp Is Still A Blackhawk, But For How Long?

Like the title says, after all the frenzy of free agent signings and trades that took place last week, one of the biggest rumors that was floating around did not come to fruition, at least not yet. While the Chicago Blackhawks made the recent bold move to ship Brandon Saad over to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the 33-year old Patrick Sharp remains a member of the organization. With this being said, will Sharp play his 11th straight season with the Blackhawks come next Fall? I highly doubt it.

According to HockeyBuzz.com, the Blackhawks exceed the cap limit by a figure of $418,129. In relation, Sharp is set to make $5.5 million with a cap hit of $5.9 million in 2015-16 – the fourth year of his five-year, $29.5 million contract. Keeping Sharp will almost definitely put the team even more over the cap ceiling, leading to problems down the road. So with the once interested Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins solving their winger needs in T.J. Oshie and Phil Kessel, respectively, who are potential trade partners for Sharp’s services? Both the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers come to mind.

Sharp to Long Island

The New York Islanders took many by surprise last season when they not only made the playoffs, but did so as the number five seed within the Eastern Conference. Sharp’s playoff experience as well as his ability to play in the ‘ big game’, having won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, would undoubtedly be the main proponent if Islanders’ GM Garth Snow decides to pull the trigger as a way to stay competitive in the East. While Sharp only notched 16 goals coupled with 43 points in 68 games last season, the Islanders had no trouble putting the puck in the net, having averaged 2.99 Goals/Per Game (4th best in NHL) at season’s end. So, any offense that Sharp brings to the table is icing on the cake to speak. Once again by looking at HockeyBuzz.com, the Islanders currently sit with $9,200,357 worth of wiggle room in terms of the salary cap, so adding Sharp would not put the team in any sort of jeopardy. Add the fact that wingers Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner are set to be unrestricted free agents after this upcoming 2015-2016 season, and taking on the remaining two years of Sharp’s contract might not be such a horrible proposition.

 

Soaking Up The Sun in Florida

Tallon shouldn’t let the fact that he already employs Jaromir Jagr hinder the decision to bring in another veteran.
While Florida Panthers’ GM Dave Tallon is notorious for stocking up on youth and giving them a chance to play for a big contract (case in point, the Panthers trading for Reilly Smith), the team should strongly consider taking up talks with Chicago for what Sharp could bring to the team. In addition to the veteran experience as previously mentioned, Sharp’s winning tenure in the Windy City could put him in a place to be a great mentor to the young crop of talent within the organization that includes Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Brandon Pirri and Jonathan Huberdeau. Tallon shouldn’t let the fact that he already employs Jaromir Jagr hinder the decision to bring in another veteran. Sharp is a decade younger than Jagr, and his offensive capabilities could spark a top line pairing with Huberdeau and Barkov much like Jagr did upon arriving with the club last season. Sharp’s presence would be an asset given that the Panthers only averaged 2.42 Goals/Per Game (6th lowest in NHL) last season, while adding depth at the same time. The Panthers sit around $13 million under the salary cap, so we will just have to wait and see if Tallon is willing to add some age to his otherwise young team, and whether Patrick Sharp is on his radar for Chicago’s asking price.