The NHL Draft and the Free Agent Frenzy have come and gone, but one player expected to change teams has stayed put – for now. The Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp is unlikely to start next season with his current club.
The Washington Capitals were rumored to be interested in acquiring Sharp, but any such move became null and void once the Capitals traded Troy Brouwer for the St. Louis Blues’ T.J. Oshie. That deal followed the Caps’ acquisition of three-time Stanley Cup winner Justin Williams during free agency. So, with two top-six wingers already netted by the Caps, the 33-year-old Sharp won’t go to Washington – which is a pity – he would have fit in well.
The Blackhawks’ salary-cap problems will result in Sharp moving on. The math just isn’t there to keep his services next term even after Chicago shocked the hockey world by dealing forward Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets last week. According to HockeyBuzz.com, the Blackhawks are $418,129 over the cap limit. Sharp is set to make $5.5 million in 2015-16 – the fourth year of his five-year, $29.5 million deal. Retaining Sharp will almost certainly put the Blackhawks even more over the cap ceiling.
So, where will Sharp end up? Not surprisingly, many teams are interested in the veteran. According to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Boston Bruins is no longer one of those teams after they picked up Matt Beleskey from Anaheim and inked him to a five-year deal.
A couple of sources told me the Bruins were in on Patrick Sharp talks. Have to think they’re out now. Isles, Flyers, Panthers interested.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) July 1, 2015
Florida Ideal for Patrick Sharp
Of the teams that Lazerus mentions, the perfect fit for Sharp might be a first-line spot on the Florida Panthers’ roster. A team on the rise, Florida currently balances youth with experience; they have five young 20-somethings and a few players in their late 30s comprising their 11 forwards. Sharp would add further experience to Florida’s forward line while also giving the club a player with a few good years left on the clock – not to mention that he’s won three Stanley Cups.
There are other teams who could benefit from a Sharp acquisition – the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders chief among them. My money is on Florida though.
The Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon is on record for giving his young-gun talent a chance to sign big deals, but with his organization sitting approximately $13 million under the salary cap limit, Tallon may make a big move for a veteran with experience to teach and support his up-and-coming forwards. Sharp must be high on Tallon’s wish list.