What will Ted spend?
Something that's quickly become all part of the Alex Ovechkin business has been a discussion over just how close to the salary cap owner Ted Leonsis is willing to go.
Postlockout, the Capitals have always been on the low end of the spending scale, and some are reasoning that it makes little sense for a team in that position to spend more than 25-per-cent of its budget on one lone star.
The thing is, however, Leonsis has spent before, and despite the fact this has often been a money-losing venture, he upped the ante this off-season and the team has made some modest gains. My guess is, when the time comes, he won't have any problem spending again.
A look at the Capitals' payroll through recent history:
There's a wrinkle here, however, something that comes in the fact that under the new CBA, even with revenue-sharing funds, the Capitals have been in the red. Leonsis said he lost $6-million, even with the handout, in 2005-06, and with a slightly higher payroll and negligible increases in attendance, that didn't change last season.
Attendance, in fact, has been downright awful this season, 28th in the league, and it stands to reason any jump in the team's salary will have to follow an increase at the gate.
Capitals' attendance through history (announced figures):
1998-99 was a great time for hockey in Washington. The team went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals the year before, and despite the fact they were swept there in four games, hockey was in in D.C.
Unfortunately, that trip to the finals was the last time the franchise won a playoff series. It was also the only time the club was above the league average in attendance in the past 14 years, something that is certainly related.
The fact is, the Capitals can afford to spend — especially if they can perform better in the standings and then at the gate — and logic dictates they're about to start doing so. Olaf Kolzig's $5.45-million deal comes off the books this off-season, and given he's one of the older netminders in the league (and has been one of the worst this season), it's time for him to take a supporting role with a much smaller price tag. There are, however, a few new big tickets on next season's cap, and adding in Ovechkin's $9.54-million contract, they've already allocated somewhere in the neighbourhood of $35-million in 2008-09.
What they're going to need more than production from Ovechkin, which at this point seems a given, is something from the other key components there — namely Alex Semin, who'll make $4.6-million next season, and Chris Clark, who was given a generous, $2.633-million-a-year deal.
Add in new deals for Mike Green, Shaone Morrisonn and a goaltender, and this isn't a low-spending team anymore — and those revenue-sharing checks will presumably stop coming.
And that, one assumes, is the moment of truth.