Twenty-two years, $135 million

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Sounds like a lot of years right? And a lot of money? Well, apparently not for the Chicago Blackhawks, because that's how much they spent (or at least committed to spend) to when they resigned Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith to long-term contract extensions.

The three muskateers of the Blackhawks will go to sleep tonight very rich men, and with a fair bit of financial reassurance. Kane and Toews signed identical 5-year deals worth $31.5 million dollars each, averaging out to a $6.3 million cap hit. Duncan Keith is the big winner though, scoring a 12 year extension worth $72 million, or $5.54 against the cap every year.

The deals will ensure (barring unforeseen events) that Toews will remain with the team until he's 27, Kane until 26 and Keith for presumably the remainder of his career, who will be 38 when the contract expires.

It may seem like a lot, but the players are worth it. They are the faces of the franchise and have the stats to back up their upcoming salaries that will take affect on July 1st, 2010.

Keith, a defenseman, is on pace for a whopping 72 point season, almost 30 points better than the career year he had last year. He's a career +61 and has many good years ahead of him. Toews? Do we really need to talk about his stats? Not really, but here they are anyway: 139 points in 166 games, +34, and bound to improve as the years go on. He is a captain, a natural leader and an all-star. Kane, a point-per-game player this year and rookie of the year in 2008, has 168 points in 188 games, is just as good.

So what does this all mean? What do all these numbers truly say?

To be honest, it can be summed up in two words:

Cap troubles.

You know you were thinking it when you heard about these contract signings. I know I was. And you have to think that upper management in Chicago is thinking the exact same thing.

Sure, it can be argued that the Hawks couldn't legitimately give these players up. Sure, it can be said that a team needs top players, and it needs to identify those players when they have them and assure themselves that they will be within the organization for a long time. But good organizations also realize that they need to stay competitive.

With Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa signed for a very long time, and for a lot of money, the Caps are going to need to do some serious wheeling and dealing if they if they don't want to become Tampa Bay north. While I don't think anyone will argue that these three players deserve the contracts they have been awarded, if I were a Hawks fans, I would be worried.

All this being said, is a deal in store for the Hawks in the near future? If so, who will be the lucky players that will be moved to save money? How long before the trigger is pulled? And what kind of team will the Hawks be come July 1st?

Vote in our poll: Who ended up with the best contract: Kane, Toews, or Keith?

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