If there was a team that could repeat, it was this one. Led by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks are as good as any team in the league. They know how to win in the postseason. They’re deep, experienced and everything else you'd want in a championship contender.
Even so, they lost. They lost because there are other powerhouses in the NHL. They lost because parity and the salary cap mean that one team will never be so much better than the others that it’ll consistently make it to the Stanley Cup finals.
There’s no shame in losing to the Los Angeles Kings. There's also no reason to make dramatic changes this summer, but there is some business to handle, starting here:
1. Sign Kane and Toews to gigantic contract extensions
Say this about the Blackhawks: They maximized their time when Kane and Toews were at their most affordable. They won a Stanley Cup while the two were still on their entry-level deals. The Hawks won another when they were making $6.3 million each per season. That's not particularly cheap, but certainly under market value. For example, they’re each averaging only half a million more per season than Jordan Eberle.
To put it another way, it’s time for a raise. They have one more year left on their contracts, so there’s not necessarily any urgency. But at the same time, you don’t want to let Kane and Toews get anywhere near unrestricted free agency if you’re the Blackhawks.
They can officially sign extensions July 1, and both have said they’re not concerned about the contract and anticipate staying in Chicago for the long haul. It helps that CAA’s Pat Brisson represents them both, further simplifying the process.
So what does the next deal look like for those two?