Blog Entry

Teams closing in on the salary cap

Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:28 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:10 am
By: Adam Gretz

On Monday we looked at the seven NHL teams that are still sitting below the NHL's salary floor and the work they need to do to reach it. But what about the teams that are closing in on the $64.3 million cap? Here's a quick look at the five teams that are closest to it, the amount of cap space they have remaining, the number of players they currently have under contract and the number of restricted free agents they have unsigned.

All salary figures come via CapGeek.
  • Buffalo Sabres, $354,693, 20 players under contract, three restricted free agents
  • Washington Capitals, $394,842, 22 players under contract, one restricted free agent
  • Philadelphia Flyers, $1.5 million, 22 players under contract, zero restricted free agents
  • Pittsburgh Penguins, $2.1 million, 22 players under contract, zero restricted free agents
  • Calgary Flames, $3.8 million, 21 players under contract, one restricted free agent
Clearly, the Buffalo Sabres have some work to do with only $354,693 in cap space and only 20 players under contract, only one of which is a goaltender. Patrick Lalime is an unrestricted free agent, while Jhonas Enroth is one of the club's three restricted free agents. The Sabres have added some large contracts this summer in Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino and Robyn Regehr, pushing them to the limits of the cap.

After picking up Regehr in a trade with the Calgary Flames, Ehrhoff's negotiating rights were acquired just before the start of the free agent signing period and he was quickly locked up with a 10-year, $40 million deal. On July 1, Leino signed a six-year, $27 million deal. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap during the summer, so the Sabres still have plenty of time to jettison some salary to fill out the remainder of the roster. But who do you sacrifice if you're the Sabres? Perhaps a player like Shaone Morrisonn? Ales Kotalik? Jochen Hecht? If the Sabres want to carry a 23-man roster this season, somebody is going to have to go.

The Washington Capitals have made a series of moves themselves, bringing in Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun, as well as re-signing Brooks Laich. Last week, the club shipped Eric Fehr and his $2.2 million cap hit to the Winnipeg Jets to clear some much-needed cap space as the club still needs to sign its remaining restricted free agent, defenseman Karl Alzner.

No team has had a bigger change to the makeup of its roster this summer than the Philadelphia Flyers, and while they traded two lengthy contracts (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards ... arguably their best players) they still have some potential long-term problems, none of which could be bigger in the future than the one belonging to defenseman Chris Pronger. He is still signed for another six years, and at the age of 36, isn't getting any younger on the blue line.

After they traded Carter and Richards and allowed Leino to hit the free agent market, the Flyers replaced them with Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot and the players acquired in the two trades (Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn). They have no remaining restricted free agents.

The Penguins, it seems, have become the greatest example for teams with salary cap constraints due to the amount of money they have invested in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. (Both players have average annual salaries of $8.7 million.) As I've written in the past, this isn't quite as big a concern as it's often made out to be because their money is invested in elite, All-Star level players. Many of the top teams (Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago, Washington, San Jose ... pretty much any of the Stanley Cup contenders) that are pressed against the cap every year have close to (or more than) 50 percent of their cap space tied up in just five players. The Penguins are no different.

On Tuesday the team signed Dustin Jeffrey, their only remaining restricted free agent, to a two-year contract.

Finaly, we have the Flames. In late June they completed the previously mentioned trade with Buffalo involving Regehr to shed some salary. They followed that up by bringing back veteran forward Alex Tanguay, signing him to a five-year contract. Their remaining restricted free agent is defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. With 22 players under contract and still over $3 million in cap space, they should be in solid shape regarding the cap.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:09 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: July 14, 2011 11:55 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

Putting Hecht, Kotalik, and Morrisson on waivers and then stashing them in Rochester if they go through would free up 8 mil in cap space.  That would allow them to sign the restricteds and allow for a possible trade for a good forward.

I'd try to deal Sekera away while he is still worth something because he is quickly turning into the next Dmitri Kalinin.

Since: Jan 10, 2008
Posted on: July 14, 2011 8:53 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

only if a penguin player brings it there next offseason

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: July 13, 2011 4:22 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

Pegula will lose all the goodwill he has built up if he even makes a phonecall to Patrick Lalime. Resign Enroth, who was phenomenal last year. Should be a no-brainer there.

Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 3:25 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

pretty simple, dump Hecht and Morrisonn.  You keep Ales Kotalik, play him 10 minutes a game and let him play on the PP line.  Vanek redirecting his nasty slap shot is scary and something the Sabres missed since losing him.  He's not the greatest dedicated player in the world but every team can use his slap shot.  On the other hand, great career for Jochen Hecht, he did a lot for this team, but his skills have erroded and the team cannot afford to waste 3+ mil on a 12 goal guy.  Additionally Morrisonn really raised my eyebrow last offseason when they signed him, never saw anything in him that was special...and he backed up that thought watching him self distruct on a regular basis.  I think the team thought they were getting a guy comparable to Tallinder to play along side of Myers.  Mission failed.  Either case, good to see the Sabres a "big market team" head the list of spenders

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 3:24 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

What I haven't been able to find information on or understand is why the Flyers still have Jody Shelley ($1.1 mil per for the next 2 seasons) and Ian Laperriere ($1.167 mil for 2011-12) still on the roster.

Laperriere spent the entire past season on the sidelines recovering from multiple concussions and is extremely unlikely to return to the ice at 37 years old.  I appreciate what Lappy brought to the team but he shouldn't be still on the roster at that price.  I'm left to assume it's a matter of working out his retirement and sorting things out on paper.  I'm not sure if the NHL allows exemptions to the salary cap for players who are forced out of the game for medical reasons but I'd sure like that cleared up.

As far as Shelley is concerned, he was more of a liability on the ice than any other player down the stretch last season.  I was happy whenever he was a healthy scratch from games in March and April.  Why he's still on the payroll boggles the mind as clearly his time as a useful player is behind him.  I'll give him credit for having a plus/minus number of 0 last season considering he's slow on his skates and most often out there to punch someone in the head.  He's simply a player the Flyers don't need anymore-- let alone the next two seasons at over $1 million per.

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: July 13, 2011 3:04 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

He has value in shootouts and power play.  Imagine him skating down one wing with Ennis down the other.  I don't know a team that could stop both of them.

But yeah, if the Islanders want him to get to the minimum, or a similar scenario, I'd probably make the move.

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:53 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

The Sabres need to dump   for sure.  I think that's what they had in mind when they made the trade anyway.

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:56 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

Buffalo put itself into a unique situation very much to their benefit when Terry Pegula bought the Rochester Americans and reestablished them as the farm club.  The big deal made about it at the time was that it re-regionalies the franchise, and call ups can make the morning skate because the farm club is only an hour away.

Both things are true. 

But the most important aspect is that there's no cap in the AHL anymore, and since Pegula owns both the Sabres and Amerks, he'll spend whatever it takes to win a Cup.  If that means a $20 million AHL payroll, so be it.

That being said, I wouldn't be surprised to see either Roy, Pominville or Hecht gone before the first puck drop.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:51 pm

Teams closing in on the salary cap

it seems as though optimism and stupidity share a very fine line.

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