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Blackhawks, Flyers, Penguins, Bruins pinched by new NHL salary cap

Photo: Bill Smith/Getty Images

Just when it seemed like Patrick Sharp would be staying with the Blackhawks, the new salary cap figure came in and cast his future in doubt.

This summer just got a whole lot more interesting.

After several hours of negotiations, the NHL and NHL Players' Association came to an agreement on a $69 million salary cap for the 2014-15 season. That's about $2 million less than many teams were expecting...and now they're going to feel the crunch.

Word from league sources suggests the NHL wanted to set the upper figure at $70 million based on revenue and some funds from the new Canadian TV contract. The PA preferred a lower $68 million level to limit the impact of escrow on the players. The two compromised on the middle ground.

While that sounds perfectly reasonable, it leaves several teams in a serious financial bind. The Chicago Blackhawks currently have $69,479,295 committed to 22 players, according to capgeek.com. Earlier today, the team committed just over $3 million to secure the services of forwards Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin and backup goaltender Antti Raanta. Half a million isn't impossible to shave, but if GM Stan Bowman is serious about pursuing a second-line center prior to the season, then real money will have to go out in return...and that could mean the end of the line for two-way winger Patrick Sharp.

The Flyers might be in a tougher spot, with a commitment of $69,236,429 to just 19 players. They'll save nearly $5 million by placing Chris Pronger on Long Term Injured Reserve when the season starts, but they still need to sign a backup for Steve Mason along with one more forward and a defenseman. GM Ron Hextall will have to swallow hard and gift wrap center Vincent Lecavalier with a high pick or a solid prospect to get another team to take on his $4.5 million commitment for the next four years.

Keep an eye on Philly and the Florida Panthers tonight. With the Flyers hosting the draft, and the Panthers holding the first-overall pick and needing to take on salary to hit the $51 floor, there may be a deal to be made here.

The news pretty much ends any hope that the Bruins had of re-signing 30-goal man Jarome Iginla. Boston has $67,329,643 committed to just 18 players, with RFA's Reilly Smith and Torey Krug looking for significant increases over their entry-level contracts. It's a good bet that Johnny Boychuk and his expiring $3.36 million cap hit will have to be shipped out, and there's a chance the team will have to buy out fourth-line veterans Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly.

The Penguins have just $55,119,167 on the books so far, but that covers just seven forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders.

More to come.

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