Isn’t it always odd when a national reporter like Elliote Friedman is breaking stories about the Hawks while the local media watches as the traffic goes by? Anyway, that’s another discussion for another time but according to the Big E Brent Seabrook is about to sign an extension, for eight years at an AAV of $6.85 per. That comes out to $54.8 million total. Good gig if you can get it, but thankfully for Seabrook there are only a few people in the world who can.
So, the first thing that jumps out at you is the length. It doesn’t even kick in until next year, when Seabrook will be 31. Which means this deal will take him through his age 39 season. Yeah… that’s not going to look all that good.
But what will look good is the first three or four years of this deal. Looking around Seabrook’s contemporaries, he fits in pretty well. Alex Pietrangelo, who is significantly younger but also significantly worse has a $6.5 hit. Erik Johnson just signed a deal for $6.0 per. Dan Girardi makes $5.5 per, and he isn’t worthy of sniffing Seabrook’s chalupa. In a market where Dustin Byfuglien very well might command $7 or even $8 million per year as a free agent, getting Seabrook under $7.0 is close to a bargain. At least until he’s 34 or 35.
While the arc of a d-man is a little longer than that of a forward, it’s very hard to be a dominant blue-liner past the age of 35. And the decline can be sharp. Even Zdeno Chara has started to creak and he’s a generational player. And Seabrook’s game isn’t exactly one of avoiding contact, so it’s hard to say he can age all that gracefully. The margin for error isn’t as great as it is with say, Duncan Keith, who even if he loses a full step will still be one of the best skaters around and his instincts will help him make some of that up. The names Scuderi, Regehr, Markov, Beauchemin are enough to give anyone pause.
But there are obviously two mitigating factors. One, there’ll be another lockout before this deal finishes, which will probably have some sort of rule change/bailout or the like that if this deal sucks the Hawks can launch it into the sun. Second, six years from now the entire core is going to be way over 30, and this window is almost certainly closed. Stan Bowman probably figures he won’t be around by then anyway (it’ll almost certainly be Jen LC in the GM chair and there’s no chance she’ll buy Seabrook out).
Anyway, Stan is looking at the near term, and he gets to play out the 2nd half of this Hawks era, however long it lasts if we’re not already in it, by only adding 1.1 million to Seabrook’s cap hit for the next few years.
Looking ahead, the Hawks with Seabrook have $67 million committed to what we can guess is a cap that won’t be too much higher than $71 million now. The only players that go free agent are Shaw and Kruger, and one would expect Kruger is finally going to get the raise he’s deserved. Shaw is probably going to walk, you’d have to think as the Hawks just have too many players who can replace him for way cheaper. It feels a little more workable than this past summer, let’s say.
It’s the season after that that’s going to be an adventure. The Hawks have $54 million tied up already, and Dano, Teuvo, and Panarin (should he work out), Hartman, and a couple others will all need re-signing depending on how the next two seasons go. But I’m guessing the Hawks figure that’s a solvable problem for another day, and this one was the most pressing. And now it’s done.