Saturday, July 16, 2011
Patrick Sharp not focusing on new deal
By Jesse Rogers
He's one of the most popular Chicago Blackhawks, if the crowds around Patrick Sharp at the team's annual fan convention mean anything.
Sharp is entering the final year of a contract which pays him $3.9 million in 2011-12. Unless he has an unexpected drop-off in his game, he's due a raise after this season and already the questions are starting: When will a new deal be completed?
"I don't have much to say about it," Sharp said. "I stated I want to stay here and hopefully the organization wants me to stay. Besides that, I'm not really going to focus on it. I'm just going to be the best player I can be and be a good teammate and those things kind of sort those things out."
General manager Stan Bowman said earlier in the offseason Sharp was part of the future of the organization and had already reached out to his agent, Richard Curran, to begin talks, though there is no timetable for completing them. NHL rules state the sides could officially start talking about an extension on July 1.
Sharp had 34 goals and 37 assists in 2010-11, setting a career-high in points, but he thinks there is still another level he can attain.
"I feel like I'm just getting started," he said. "I want to continue to not only produce at the offensive level but play in all situations, like I've done in the past."
It's believed one reason the Hawks signed six free agents to one-year contracts is to clear some extra salary cap space in the coming years so Sharp can be retained.
"I don't pay much attention to it," Sharp said. "They (fans) said that (clearing space) about (Patrick) Kane, (Jonathan) Toews, and (Duncan) Keith. I can't control that. It's out of my hands."
Sharp might have even more value if he continues to rotate between wing and center. Bowman recently pointed out the Hawks won the Stanley Cup with Sharp playing in the middle, though his game is more suited to wing.
"I'm fine with that (rotating)," Sharp stated. "The last six years I don't think I've played one position more than the other. I'm sure if I start at center I'll play some games at wing and if I start at wing I'll play some at center."
If the recent past is any indication, expect a new deal to be completed well before the end of the upcoming season. The Hawks signed several other stars -- Toews, Kane, Keith and Brent Seabrook -- to extensions in-season over the last two years. Bowman has stated he's hopeful for the same with Sharp.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.