All the speculation can finally end. Forward Patrick Sharp, who was always considered a core player by the Blackhawks, signed a five-year extension with the team on Wednesday.
The annual cap hit of Sharp's new contract is $5.9 million, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. Sharp is entering the last year of a contract that carries a $3.9 million cap hit. His salary for the 2011-12 season is $4.2 million.
Last summer, there was ample speculation that Sharp was on the trade market with the Hawks having salary-cap concerns. But general manager Stan Bowman always said the plan was to re-sign Sharp.
He stayed true to his word.
"Patrick is a very important member of our organization and we are looking forward to him being part of a core group that will be a contender for many years to come," Bowman said. "Over the last several years we have seen him develop into one of the game's elite players as well as a fixture in the community and we are proud to be able to announce this news [Wednesday]."
Sharp, 29, led the Hawks with 34 goals last season and had a career-high 71 points in 74 games. He also was honored as the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh.
Sharp has scored 150 goals in a Hawks uniform during regular-season play since being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 5, 2005.
"I feel like the best is yet to come," Sharp said. "There's no reason to stop. I feel like I'm getting in better shape each year. ... I'm looking forward to improving down the line.
""It feels good to know that I'm wanted here in Chicago."