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Numbers Game: Campbell going to Florida

Scott Cullen
6/25/2011 12:48:37 AM
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The Chicago Blackhawks suddenly have cap space after dealing what was thought to be an immovable contract to a team that is still trying to climb up to the salary floor.

Numbers Game covers the Brian Campbell trade.

The Panthers Get: D Brian Campbell.

Brian Campbell's game had undergone a metamorphosis, as he went from a freewheeling offensive defenceman to responsible defender. He finished last season with 27 points, his lowest total since 2003-2004, yet also tied a career-high with a plus-28 rating.

32-year-old Campbell now blocks more shots and was playing second-unit power play time in Chicago, but his role should change back to his more offensive nature, given the lack of proven puck-moving defencemen on the Panthers roster.

Considering the talent in Florida, Campbell may still be hard-pressed to top 50 points, as he has twice already in his career, but he's finished between 38 and 48 points in three other seasons and that seems a reasonable expectation for him as the Panthers' power play quarterback.

The one reason that Campbell might have been considered, by some, to be an untradeable player is that his contract has five years and more than $35.7-million remaining, but even after adding Campbell's $7,142,875 cap hit, the Panthers are still $24-million below the cap floor (www.capgeek.com) with a dozen players under contract, so the money owed to Campbell isn't particularly burdensome to a Panthers team that needs to add talent.

Campbell had to waive his no-trade clause for this deal to be completed, so his loyalty to Dale Tallon, the Panthers GM who signed Campbell to the contract with the Blackhawks, shouldn't be overlooked, since Campbell is agreeing to leave a contender for a team that is in the beginning stages of rebuilding.

The Blackhawks Get: C Rostislav Olesz.

For a forward that has yet to score more than 30 points in an NHL season, Rostislav Olesz has been rather well compensated. He has three years remaining on his contract, at a cap hit of $3,125,000 but, because his contract is escalating, the actual cash owed is $11,650,000, making Olesz pricier than his actual cap hit for the Blackhawks.

That being the case, and considering Chicago just cleared Campbell's salary off the books, it seems very likely that the Blackhawks would consider buying out Olesz because, as a 25-year-old, the buyout cost would only be at one-third the cap hit, spread out over the next six seasons.

Theoretically, that would leave the Blackhawks on the hook for a little under $650,000 for the next six years, instead of more than $7-million to Campbell, still leaving Chicago much more financial flexibility than they've had recently.

Part of that money will likely go towards getting Patrick Sharp, who could be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, signed to a long-term deal.

With Campbell gone, the Blackhawks will have to look for help on the blueline. Campbell was playing 23 minutes per game and even if Niklas Hjalmarsson and Chris Campoli are capable of playing more significant roles, there is an opening that can be addressed through free agency without spending near what they were paying Campbell.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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