Let Them Eat Cake - Second City Hockey's 2010/2011 Blackhawks Preview: Today, Seabrook's Extension
Continuing to look at the upcoming season through your eyes (the light the heat IN YOUR EYES I am complete...), today we discuss Hack's queries about one of the issues that's sure to come up a few times throughout the season: Brent Seabrook's contract coming to an end and extension.
1) Extend mid-season or after the season?
2) How much/yr and how long should the deal be?
3) If the hawks extend seabs and essentially have their top 4 set for a few years, where does this put Olsen, Leddy, and LaLonde in terms of status in organization?
Essentially, it's all under the same umbrella. I get the feeling that Seabrook's extension is going to be a lot more hardball than Duncan Keith's was. The reason for this is that a shutdown defenseman with the wheels to transition you to offense and contribute when he gets there simply don't come around that often. How many d-men are currently carrying Keith's game right now? Two? Three? Meanwhile, the big, mobile, atom-smashing lockdown guy is a little more availability. It's not that I don't love Seabs, I think he's a big part of why Keith developed the way he did. He's far and away the Hawks most physical presence, He chips in on the power play occasionally. And he's only 25. However, there are a couple factors that's going to keep Seabrook from getting a lifetime deal, and that's even if he wanted one.
First, there are defensemen who play his game who go on to long careers. Adam Foote and Rob Blake come to mind. But there are many more who fall off a cliff after the physical toll is taken. Seabrook is already one or two concussions in, and one doubts if those are the last. So the Hawks won't want to be burdened with a player who might break down.
Second, Seabrook is on the top pairing on a Cup champion, only coming up on RFA, and 25. He might not want to give away too many Unrestricted years.
To Hack's specific questions, I'm sure the Hawks would love to tie this up midseason so it doesn't become a distraction, and probably to keep the price down. What would Keith, Kane, and Toews have cost after the Cup win? Yeah, best not to think about it. But perhaps Seabrook and his agent aren't so generous. The strange thing is that if Seabrook has an outstanding year and ups his value, he actually makes it less likely a team would offer him an offer sheet that would make the Hawks choke, because that size offer sheet would involve at least a first, second, and third round pick. That seems like a lot for a d-man who doesn't change the way your team can play.
So what's the amount? Well, Seabrook is already at $3.5 mildo, and I can't see much of a raise from there, though he'll get one. I keep looking at Robyn Regehr's 4.025 cap hit and think that's about right, because I think Regehr and Seabs are similar players. Now, Biscuit has more offensive upside and Regehr might have a touch more sandpaper to his game. Seabs also has youth, being five years younger. Another player to look at is Rob Scuderi, and he's at 3.4. Braydon Coburn? 3.4. Now we know there are the Dion Phaneuf's out there, but just because one team made a mistake...
Again, this doesn't mean I don't want Seabrook on the team for a long time. He's a genuine top pair d-man and they don't come around every day. But that doesn't mean the Hawks have to acquiesce to whatever #7 demands. Personally, I can't see giving him anything over than 5 million a year, and 4.5 makes even more sense. Again, I don't think any team is going to risk forking over that much cash, and the coughing up the draft picks that are going to cuff your future. Sadly for Brent, the Hawks pretty much have all the leverage here, no matter how he plays this year.
As for the kids coming through, the only one who could do what Seabrook does as far as I know is Dylan Olsen, and he's a couple years away. Leddy and Lalonde are clearly penciled to replace Campbell one day soon with their up-tempo games. Maybe Seabrook and Hammer are trade bait one day if Olsen proves he's ready. But seeing as how these guys are cheap for now, they'll be easily slotted into the bottom pair to gently break them into the league. That's smart, as it's not rushing them.