Restricted free agent Andrew Shaw is asking for an average annual salary of at least $4.5 million in his talks with the Blackhawks, reports the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus. That's a big raise from the $2 million cap hit he had last season and would require the team to clear additional salary in order to fit under the 2016-17 salary cap.
Shaw, 24, has been a priority for the Blackhawks this offseason, but like with Brandon Saad last summer, it appears the player is entering talks with a price point the team can't possibly reach. Chicago can't offer much more than $3 million annually to a player without moving salary from the current roster, so retaining Shaw would require other moves.
That explains the rumors of Marcus Kruger's availability, but then you're talking about opening up one hole while plugging another. Kruger has a $3.083 million cap hit on the books for the next three seasons, so retaining him and moving Shaw would be the much more affordable move if this report is accurate. Shaw was also mentioned in those trade rumors, and Lazerus names the Panthers as a suitor, so the team appears to be keeping its options open.
It's also not completely outrageous for Shaw to be expecting so much money. He's a two-time Stanley Cup winner with a 20-goal season on his resume and he's coming off a good playoff performance against the Blues. He's not wrong to push for that much money, and there's a non-zero chance he's worth it.
However, the Blackhawks should not be the team to give him that contract. Shaw at $4.5 million might be palatable to teams with more money to spend on the bottom half of their roster, but Chicago simply doesn't have that luxury with so much money paid to the guys at the top. We saw what happened over the past two years with Bryan Bickell when the team gambled on the wrong role player, and with Shaw, the bet might be a bit smarter but it's still in the same vein. You're still talking about a multi-year deal at a high AAV for a guy who's never consistently been a top-six player, which should not be in the cards for a team that's already got so much money tied up. Go get Artemi Panarin extended instead.
None of this is to say that the Blackhawks will actually meet his demand, and Tracey Myers' source pegged the odds of a deal at "50-50." Maybe his price comes down a bit. Still, even at $4 million annually, he's a problem fitting onto this roster. I'm not sure how the cap-strapped Hawks could justify doing all this just to retain a guy who had 99 points over the past three seasons. It might be time to trade Andrew Shaw.