Sources: Hawks still working on deals

Updated: November 18, 2009, 5:37 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun |

The Chicago Blackhawks continued to work on closing out long-term deals for a trio of star players Wednesday.

As first reported Saturday, the Blackhawks are close to signing star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to extensions; both players set for restricted free agency July 1. Sources told Wednesday that there are still issues to be ironed out fronts but that both deals should be for five years and between $5.5 million to $6.5 million in average salary.

Star defenseman Duncan Keith, also slated to be a restricted free agent July 1, is also close to agreeing to an extension that could be as long as 13 years. But a source told Wednesday that the deal is not done and there are still possible stumbling blocks to overcome.

The NHL's head office would also want to carefully take a look at any deal in double-digit length after deputy commissioner Bill Daly warned teams at last week's GMs meeting in Toronto about these types of deals.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman declined comment to via text message Tuesday, preferring not to comment on speculation.

A GM from another NHL team told Tuesday that he believed Bowman would need to move a player or two before finalizing these three extensions because he may not have enough "tagging room" on next year's salary cap. As per the collective bargaining agreement, tagging room essentially means a team can't have more money committed on next year's payroll than the limit on this season's salary cap.

The Blackhawks left Wednesday for a six-game road trip that begins Thursday in Calgary and won't return home until Nov. 28. It's anticipated that the team would want to announce these signings at home.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for