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Blackhawks OK with paying price of success

Overage bonuses earned this season won't affect long-term plans, GM Stan Bowman says

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

CHICAGO -- The overage bonuses earned by forward Artemi Panarin this season will not handicap the Chicago Blackhawks in the long run, general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday.

Bowman said management plans for each player on the roster to achieve the bonuses in his contract and changes course when that does not happen. Overage bonuses are monies above the annual NHL salary cap, which are applied to the following season's salary cap.

Panarin, who had 31 goals, 43 assists and 74 points this season, reached a bonus reportedly worth $1.275 million for finishing in the top 10 among forwards in scoring. His 74 points were tied 10th with Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets.

 

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"We're not really caught off-guard," Bowman said. "So my preparations for next year, that's what we've been planning on all year. I remember we talked to Panarin at the end of last year, and he said 'I'm going to be even better next year.' We expect that to happen. The bonus overage, there's a lot of teams, there's more and more teams every year that are encountering it. It's not just us."

Video: CHI@LAK: Panarin finishes Kane's cross-ice dish

Bowman was speaking before the Blackhawks played the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round Series at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports2, CSN-CHI, FS-TN).

Bowman would not reveal the total overage the Blackhawks face from the achieved bonuses, but that the total has been planned for.

Chicago has had to make tough roster decisions in the past, especially after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Blackhawks have lost key players because of salary-cap restraints caused by players earning more money in new contracts.

Bowman, the general manager since 2009-10, has rebuilt the Blackhawks on the fly several times and expects that to happen again this summer. The extent of the changes will likely depend on the amount of success they have in the playoffs.

Chicago's core is signed long-term. Forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are signed through the 2022-23 season, as are defenseman Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Goalie Corey Crawford is signed through 2019-20.

Video: CHI@MIN: Toews, Kane combine to bury OT winner

The Blackhawks have four restricted free agents, including forward Richard Panik, and four unrestricted free agents, including backup goalie Scott Darling. Bowman said Thursday he has had preliminary conversations with representatives for each of the players, but in-depth negotiations will wait until the offseason.

"Our job is to prepare for the future; we've done it before," Bowman said. "We've been able to navigate a lot of changes to our roster. [We're] not anticipating huge changes. There will be some leading into next year. But that's not our focus right now.

"I think you can still enjoy [the playoffs], knowing that I sort of had a dual purpose, which is to watch the team now and also plan for where we're going to be next year and in the coming years. That's not different. It's been that way for the last number of years. If anything we're probably accustomed to that by now."

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