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Ryan Lambert

What We Learned: Has Chicago GM Stan Bowman learned nothing?

Ryan Lambert
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Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

It was a while ago now, but really rack your brains and see if you can recall the Chicago Blackhawks' offseason in 2010.

If you can remember through the mists of the past, it seems as though they signed next to no one to bolster their chances for repeating last year's Stanley Cup run. In fact, you might even vaguely recollect something about their having to sell off a number of key contributors from that Cup-winning team. Contributors that ended up being the captain for another team, or an All-Star defenseman, a legitimate starting goalie, or a promising, gifted young goalscorer.

But perhaps you're having trouble remembering why they did that. Can't have been the team's chemistry, right? No, it feels like that was pretty good at the end there. Can't have been that they weren't performing up to the team's standards, yeah? Seems like they all played great in the playoffs.

Oh so maybe it was because there is a thing in the National Hockey League known as the "salary cap," and had Chicago not offloaded Andrew Ladd(notes), Dustin Byfuglien(notes), Antti Niemi(notes) and Kris Versteeg(notes) among other players, they would have exceeded it by roughly a billion trillion dollars.

But the problem, it seems, is that the Blackhawks want to keep all their good players. Forever. That's why, this weekend, they re-signed Brent Seabrook(notes) to a five-year deal reportedly worth $29 million, or a $5.8 million cap hit per season.

(Coming Up: Eris Staal health update; the Leafs' playoff push; Brad Richards'(notes) health; Brent Sopel(notes) is thrilled to be out of Atlanta; Bruce Boudreau tempers his language; the Islander most likely to be traded; Craig Rivet(notes) to the Jackets; diagnosing Colorado's collapse; the Bryan McCabe(notes) trade; the most popular No. 8 defenseman in the NHL; welcome to Anaheim, Dan Ellis(notes); Daymond Langkow(notes) working his way back; in praise of Matt Calvert(notes); a jeer for Jon Quick; and a ridiculous Carey Price(notes) trade proposal.)

Seabrook is a good defenseman. He might be overpaid a little, but he's more or less worth that much (although why he makes more per year than Duncan Keith(notes) is rather baffling). But with this signing, the Blackhawks will enter next season with just under $42 million invested in eight players with five restricted free agents to sign.

There's been talk that the salary cap will once again rise this OFFSEASON, which is a good thing for Chicago. It will not, unfortunately, rise to anything near $70 million, which is what would be necessary to prevent yet another Blackhawks fire sale.

The thing is that most of these contracts are fair. Patrick Kane(notes) and Jonathan Toews(notes) at $6.3 million? Seabrook at $5.8? Duncan Keith at $5.54? Patrick Sharp(notes) at $3.9? You take all those deals.

The problem is the less-marginal money to more-marginal players. They have three contracts that would make any sane person say, "Really? Him?"

Dave Bolland(notes) is getting paid $3.375 a year through 2014. Brian Campbell(notes) is making more than every defenseman not named Zdeno Chara(notes) until 2016. The Sharks rooked Chicago into giving Nicklas Hjalmarsson $3.5 million for the next three seasons. These contracts are more than a little ridiculous.

Maybe they want to make it an annual thing though. Step right up and get your future key contributors for a relatively small amount. Everything must go... because Bowman gave so-and-so a zillion dollar contract.

Of course, that's what made Chicago a middling Western Conference team for most of the year rather than the juggernaut they were for the entirety of last season.

It's nice for Chicago fans that they won the Cup last year. If they keep signing guys to deals like this, they're not going to do it again for a long time.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: This is how the Dan Ellis era began in Anaheim.

Beat five-hole on a 50-footer from high-scoring superstar Clayton Stoner(notes)? Yup, that's the old Dan Ellis alright.

Atlanta Thrashers: "What's wrong with the Thrashers?" Regressing toward the mean. You don't go 6-15-6 in 27 games after starting the year 19-11-5 with a mediocre team otherwise.

Boston Bruins: I know a surprisingly large number of Bruins fans who are actually excited to see the team re-sign Sheriff Shane Hnidy(notes). He's gotta be the most popular No. 8 defenseman in the league.

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are going to be buyers at the deadline. Because any team with Steve Montador(notes) as a No. 3 defenseman is definitely going places in the playoffs.

Calgary Flames: Daymond Langkow seems one step closer to playing hockey again, as he is participating in light on-ice workouts for the first time since taking a puck in the neck since March.

Carolina Hurricanes: Even though he got clobbered with a scary hit on Friday night, Eric Staal(notes) is expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow, which is good news.

Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago is on the lookout for a depth center and a reliable defenseman. Just like every other team in the NHL. If you had either one of those lying around you could probably get the moon in exchange for him.

Colorado Avalanche: Here's a very astute thing literally everyone outside of Denver has been saying since last year: "The worst-case scenario is that last season's surprising showing was a complete fluke, seducing the organization into overrating its talent - and triggering panic when that became apparent." To those points: it was, they did, and that clearly happened.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Craig Rivet, huh? Now we know for sure that Mike Commodore(notes) ran over someone's dog. I mean, the guy was a healthy scratch in Buffalo, and their defense is terrible.

Dallas Stars: Brad Richards has missed six games, but skated on three different days without too many problems. Now they can trade him to the Rangers no problem!!!

Detroit Red Wings: Mike Modano's(notes) back. Good thing, too. The Red Wings were really looking for someone to help them get killed at the dot.

Edmonton Oilers: Headline -- "Goaltender Martin Gerber's less than ideal season." Rejected subheadline: "Unfortunately had to play for Oilers."

Florida Panthers: Shrewd observation regarding Florida fans who think that team can make the playoffs vis a vis the Bryan McCabe trade: "This trade should stop the playoff talk, though it won't. Playoff teams don't trade their captain." If you believe Darcy Regier, they only put them on waivers.

Los Angeles Kings: Check out this ugly Drew Doughty(notes) goal with 1.1 seconds to go in the second period. Laser shot, Brian Elliott(notes)-y "save."

Minnesota Wild: Something for Wild fans to consider before Cliff Fletcher makes no moves whatsoever today: Where does Guillaume Latendresse's(notes) possible late-season return fit in?

Montreal Canadiens: Look how glad Brent Sopel is to be out of Atlanta.

Nashville Predators: Former Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion(notes) got called up for Saturday's game and in doing so became the first-ever fourth-generation NHL player. His great grandfather was Hall of Famer Howie Morenz, his grandfather was Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion and his dad is former first-round pick Danny Geoffrion. So not a lot to live up to there, eh?

New Jersey Devils: The Devs lost their first regulation game in almost a month on Friday, and thousands of people across New Jersey broke their legs simultaneously jumping off the bandwagon. Clearly they are DOOMED.

New York Islanders: There is apparently a tremendous amount of interest in Radek Martinek(notes). Like, second-round-pick interest. It's almost as though GMs have universally decided that the draft means very little these days.

New York Rangers: Rangers fans believe McCabe is "a key piece" for the Rangers' playoff hopes. But then again everyone whose team acquires the 35-year-old No. 53 leading scorer among defensemen thinks that.

Ottawa Senators: The Senators have won three straight games with Craig Anderson(notes) in net, and allowed just two goals in those 185 minutes. One of those games was even against a good team!

Philadelphia Flyers: Yes, that's right, the best team in the East lost to the worst team in Canada. That's despite the Flyers having allowed two shots in the first period to come a whopping 12:01 apart. What goaltending problems?

Phoenix Coyotes: Phoenix's ownership situation is still very much up in the air, meaning that any trades they make today will be limited by severe financial constraints. Not that you're surprised.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Lookit the release on this Alex Kovalev(notes) shootout goal. It's almost like the guy is insanely talented.

San Jose Sharks: Antero Niittymaki(notes) is back skating with the team for the first time since Feb. 8. San Jose has gone 7-2-0 in his absence so please, Nitty, don't hurry back on their account, yeah?

St. Louis Blues: The Blues are standing pat. They like the look of the team. I'm not sure why.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Mike Smith(notes) came back up from the minors this weekend having posted a 1.83 GAA and a .924 save percentage in five games, and hopes he's back in a good mental state. But even with those impressive stats, I don't know how much better he might feel about himself since his record in those games was 1-4.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Can the Leafs make the playoffs? It'll take some doing, but yes. On the other hand, look who they have in March: Boston twice, Philly twice, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Detroit. That's not easy.

Vancouver Canucks: This hit by Victor Oreskovich(notes) on Andrew Ference(notes) was awesome.

Washington Capitals: Bruce Boudreau on what he said to the Caps during a timeout when they trailed the Islanders: "Quite frankly, I was telling them we stink." Come on, dawg. We all saw 24/7. Probably a safe bet the language was a little harsher than that.

Gold Star Award

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Hey so this Matt Calvert has the NHL pretty much figured out eh? Natural hat trick and an assist on Friday, another goal on Sunday. No one tell him his shooting percentage of nearly 30 percent is totally unsustainable. Let's see how far he takes this.

Minus of the Weekend

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Yeah Jon Quick beat the Avalanche - who can't these days? - but giving up three goals on 17 shots is probably really bad.

Play of the Weekend

Note to Pekka Rinne(notes): If you don't kick rebounds on 2-on-1s right to the other forward, you typically don't have to make saves like this:

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User "Kimota" may or may not be from Ottawa.

Jason Spezza(notes) and Craig Anderson

For

Carey Price

In the next few hours, we'll find out if this happens.

Signoff

With today's gasoline prices, we can't afford not to buy a pony.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness rather infrequently over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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