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A closer look at the cap situations for the (new) Pacific division

 

Last week we looked at a breakdown of the salary cap situation for all 30 NHL teams. The message is clear: there will be fewer dollars available for free agents this summer than there are normally due to the salary cap ceiling dropping to $64.3 million. The impact on fantasy hockey, mainly cap leagues, is significant as there will be many players who will be forced to sign for less than what we may think they are worth.

 

This week we will start a team-by-team breakdown of potential moves that could happen this summer. Hopefully we can stay ahead of the curve in trying to determine which players could potentially become cap bargains when they sign their new contracts.

 

Since the 2004-05 lockout, the popular course of action is for teams to take care of their own. Many pending contract expirations are settled during the season rather than waiting until after July 1st. Then, those who become free agents get whatever money is left, often with limited potential destinations.

 

So with that in mind, it is highly probable that free agents who re-sign with their current teams will have more odds of signing contracts that resemble what we would have seen last summer. On the other hand, players who hit the open market may get the short end of the stick.

 

Here is a breakdown of the NHL’s new Pacific division:

 

Anaheim Ducks


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

18

$9,384,167

$1,876,833

Palmieri, Beleskey

Selanne, Koivu, Lydman


The Ducks are a team that operates under an internal budget and have an abnormally-high payroll heading into next season after the massive contract extensions signed by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Teemu Selanne may be back and if he does he will probably still command a pretty hefty salary. Saku Koivu and Toni Lydman on the other hand may have to take pay cuts to stay in the fold. Expect the Ducks to go the trade route to shed some salary, perhaps by moving Jonas Hiller’s $4.5 million cap hit or by satisfying long-time trade rumors and moving Bobby Ryan.

 

Calgary Flames


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

18

$19,171,667

$3,834,333

Butler, Brodie, Backlund

McGrattan, Babchuk


Simply put, the Flames are re-tooling their entire organization. Gone are Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, while goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff may retire. The end result is a ton of cap space. Look for the team to try to find bargain deals either in free agency or on the trade market to try to find underrated gems who can help them down the line. The team would be smart to stick with short-term contracts to avoid the same mess than landed them in the league basement in the first place.

 

Edmonton Oilers


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

17

$16,460,833

$2,743,472

Gagner, Paajarvi, Peckham

Whitney, Khabibulin, Jones, Fistric


 At first glance the Oilers have a lot of cap space. However, they are at a point in their progression where it is time to start taking big steps forward. Sam Gagner will command a lot of money while the team needs major improvements throughout the roster, especially on defense. It may not take much to put this team up against the cap ceiling which brings the possibility of amnesty buyouts into play.

Candidates to be bought out include Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth.

 

Meanwhile, Ryan Whitney and Nikolai Khabibulin could become excellent cap bargains if they are not retained and head to free agency. Whitney in particular could be a good buy-low candidate in deep cap leagues.

 

Los Angeles Kings


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

12

$15,577,273

$1,416,116

Bernier, Clifford, Voynov, Martinez, Lewis

Regehr, Scuderi, Penner, Richardson


The Kings are in an interesting situation. They have a lot of expiring contracts including several key restricted free agents. All of them are worth retaining, including possible big money for Slava Voynov and Jonathan Bernier, which leaves very little for the unrestricted free agents. Willie Mitchell’s injury may be career-threatening which could help the team by putting his $3.5 million cap hit on long-term injured reserve which could bring Robyn Regehr back in the fold. Otherwise the team is better off sticking to promoting players from within as they have excellent organizational depth.

 

Phoenix Coyotes


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

12

$24,650,000

$2,240,909

Korpikoski, Boedker, Stone, Rundblad

Smith, Gordon, Labarbera, Chipchura


Due to their disastrous ownership situation the Coyotes are an internal budget team. Their primary source of success is turning cap bargains into key contributors before eventually losing them to free agency. Look for this to continue as they do everything possible to limit their spending. They will probably keep their restricted free agents while the team’s uncertain future will likely force Mike Smith out of town. Boyd Gordon could also hit the open market now that he is established as a high-end defensive forward. Smith

 

Smith’s case is the most interesting. Normally he would be due for a big payday but with the unique landscape of this summer the bidding war for his services will not be as intense. He is a possible cap bargain especially if he can sign with a strong club.

 

San Jose Sharks


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

14

$9,573,333

$1,063,704

Demers, Galiardi, Desjardins

Torres, Hannan, Gomez, Greiss


The Sharks have a lot of openings and less than $10 million in cap space but should be able to carry on with their business without any major changes because none of the free agents are top names. TJ Galiardi and Jason Demers could command a hefty raise but should not put the team over the edge. Their unrestricted free agents should be fairly cheap to re-sign but could turn to players willing to sign for the league minimum if need be. All in all, expect the Sharks to stay the course and try to retain as many of the pieces involved in their current playoff run as they can.

 

Vancouver Canucks


Plyrs Signed

Cap Space

$/Opening

Key RFA

Key UFA

15

$1,396,667

$174,583

Schroeder, Tanev, Weise

Roy, Raymond, Alberts, Lapierre, Barker


The Canucks are going to be an interesting team to watch this offseason. The top news item is going to be how they finally deal with the Roberto Luongo situation. Ideally, the team will be able to find a trade partner and the Canucks absorb a fraction of the cap hit. But this is far from a certain scenario simply because of the length of Luongo’s contract. From the other team’s perspective, a commitment that is nearly a decade in length is a tough sell even if they are not charged with the full salary or cap hit. If Luongo’s contract is bought out, teams will be free to negotiate the terms of his new pact which will surely be a shorter-term agreement. The flexibility of the shorter deal is key in long-term roster management.

 

 

Another buyout candidate is Keith Ballard, who has two more years left but has been a major bust since joining the Canucks.  This is an easier pill to swallow for Canucks’ ownership as the total buyout fee will cost less in dollars.

 

With the team ready to make some big changes, look for most of the unrestricted free agents to be let go. Derek Roy and Mason Raymond are candidates to become excellent cap bargains if they latch on with a new team.

 

Previously from Daoust:


 

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Comments (3)add comment

ericdaoust said:

ericdaoust
Selanne He could go either way, but the Ducks are not going to say no to him and he will still command a good salary which has consequences elsewhere on the roster.
May 27, 2013
Votes: +0

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
... With a new coach in Vancity, the misuse/treatment of Ballard may stop, although either him or Booth will likely be traded/bought out strictly for cap reasons.
Raymond and Alberts will likely be priced out of what the Nucks can offer, same with Roy whom I doubt they ever thought they would resign. Once Luongo is dealt, and if the nucks retain a caphit- or a salary in return- the rest of the roster wont change much. A couple of depth/minimum salaried signings and/or prospect promotions.
May 25, 2013
Votes: +0

Corstyles said:

Corstyles
Selanne I'm not sure about your valuation of Selanne... he really hit the 'age wall' this year. (Finally). He had 24 points in 46 games, most of them coming early in the season. He was also a -10, while playing for a team that had the 2nd best record in the conference and scored 22 more goals than they allowed.

I think he'll probably call it a career. But, if it he doesn't, any GM that gives him more than $2M next year is making a mistake.
May 24, 2013
Votes: +0
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