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Blackhawks Thu Dec 11 2014

Strength of Loonie Deciding Factor in Cap for Blackhawks, NHL

Chicago Blackhawks Remember in college when you were scraping under the couch cushions to scrounge a few coins to buy a meal of ramen noodles followed by a few rounds of 15-cent drafts at the local bar? It seemed hopeless as you already checked a few days prior, not to mention your roommate already claimed the remaining 60 cents between the used sofa and radiator.

Then, as if your prayers were miraculously answered, you reached into your coat pocket and pulled out a crinkled up 10 dollar bill and proceeded to drop to your knees and pray to whoever made this glorious wish come true. You were so thankful, in fact, that you decided to splurge all 10 bucks on yourself and friends as if it was your last night in town.

That same elation is what the Hawks and many other teams in the NHL felt on Monday after commissioner Gary Bettman announced at the Board of Governors' meeting that if the Canadian dollar remains steady, the projection for each NHL team would be an extra $4 million towards the cap. It would be huge boost for teams who currently hover around the cap line, which includes the Hawks.

Recently, the Canadian dollar has sunk to a five-year low, according to Bloomberg News, which includes a recent job loss of over 10,000 jobs in November alone. Such a dip in the workforce results in a rise in interest rates from the Federal Reserve with the Bank of Canada.

Translation? The Canadian dollar, or "loonie" as it's referred, depreciated 6 percent, according to the Bloomberg report, and currently pays 87.34 cents to the U.S. dollar. The currency chart below reveals the steady decline of the loonie over the last 30 days (Nov. 11, 2014 to Dec. 11, 2014), per xe.com.

USD vs CAD

What makes this an interesting scenario amongst millionaires and billionaires north of the border is the fact that teams in Canada earn Canadian dollars, but pays its players in American cash. That current 13-percent difference can add up.

It's the strength of the loonie that could decide whether the Hawks and all other 29 teams in the league would be able to increase their respective salary caps 5 percent from the current $69 million to $73 million. Bettman stated in Boca Raton, FL, the location of the annual governors' meeting, that if the Canadian dollar remains around the 88-cent comparison to the U.S. dollar, he projected the cap would be somewhere around the $73 million mark. The influx of cash that's being weighed against the recent demise of the Canadian dollar is the $4.9 billion television deal between Rodgers and the NHL, which runs over 12 years.

So what does this mean for the Hawks if these projections come to fruition? It would help re-sign a handful of key components to the team -- which would include priority number one, Brandon Saad.

According to CapGeek.com, the Hawks are $589,608 under the salary cap and are projected to be right at the red line, as it were, if the current roster remains the same after the end of this season.

As for players currently on the Hawks' roster, whose contracts end after the completion of this season, there are a variety of restricted- and unrestricted-free agents. They include:

• Brad Richards: UFA -- $2 million
• Dan Carcillo: UFA -- $550,000
• Johnny Oduya: UFA -- $3.375 million
• Michal Rozsival: UFA -- $2.2 million
• Marcus Kruger: RFA -- $1.325 million
• Brandon Saad: RFA -- $764,167
• Klas Dahlbeck: RFA -- $613,333
• David Rundblad: RFA -- $573,000
• Scott Darling: RFA -- $570,000

As mentioned, Saad clearly would be the top priority in re-signing, but it's clear the 22-year-old (pretty staggering when you think about the fact he's only 22) winger is due a big payday. The Hawks are getting him at a bargain and Stan Bowman is going to do whatever it takes to keep him from leaving.

More than likely the Hawks will wheel and deal to help increase its cap-space number, whether it's before the trade deadline on Monday, March 2, at 2pm CST, or sometime after the team's run in the postseason. This is regardless of Bettman being able to reach into his proverbial coat pocket to find extra money for his friends on which to splurge; although, it would help, in all likelihood, in the ability to keep someone on board like Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million).

Each year since the salary cap was instituted in the 2005-'06 season, it has increased, starting at what now seems like a measly $39 million, all the way up to the current $69 million. In order for that trend to continue, the league owners will need to hold steady and keep one eye glued to the ticker on their smart phones and the other on the ice.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, especially with other teams looking to keep pace with the Hawks. Currently, the Avs lead the league in least amount of space at $264,961; the Hawks are second and the Penguins are third at $653,130. The potential increase will also help teams looking to crack the .500 mark by way of key-free agent signings as well as top-draft picks.

Until then, it'll all depend on whether the loonie will soar and help create more jobs in the Great White North and, thus, make good on Bettman's projections, or potentially fly south and further tighten up families' budgets as well as the league's.

NOTE: We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the recent passing of one of hockey's all-time greatest players, Montreal's Jean Béliveau. Nicknamed "Le Gros Bill," Béliveau helped the Canadiens win 17 total Stanley Cups, 10 as a player and seven as an executive.

His career stats are right up there with the greatest players ever and will forever be remembered as a beloved figure not just in Québécois lore, but also with hockey fans everywhere.

This tribute at the Bell Centre from Dec. 9 says it all.

 
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