Thursday, July 03, 2008

Who has cash?

Two days in, and for some teams, the well is running dry.

By my count, Chicago and Philadelphia are over the salary cap. Teams with less than $2.5-million salary room include Anaheim, New Jersey, Dallas, Calgary, Boston and Detroit, none of whom is likely to add another impact player from the list of who's left.

Other teams have their own self-imposed caps, and are likely to remain well below the $56.7-million limit. Nashville's spent $43-million and won't go much higher. Ditto for St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Phoenix.

Throw in clubs that have restricted free agents to sign, contracts that will put them close to the cap, and you can eliminate even more teams from the spending spree. Washington and Florida fit the bill.

By my count, half the NHL's teams aren't likely to buy significantly into the free agent market at this point — which has to be just a wee bit troubling for those still waiting and available. There are not enough homes, and there will be bargains to be had.

So, who will spend?

Vancouver: The Canucks are a "have" team in terms of cap space, with roughly $17-million to use and an owner willing to spend. They desperately need help up front but have six NHL defencemen and two goaltenders signed. The city's hockey fans are in full panic mode.

Colorado: Even if you factor in a return for Joe Sakic, the Avs have nearly $10-million to play with and only Marek Svatos to sign. The fact they went bargain basement in goal has given them options elsewhere although GM Francois Giguere may opt for a rebuild of sorts.

Minnesota: Another team in the Northwest with cash to spend, the Wild have to sign Pierre-Marc Bouchard but should still have $10-million cap space to use on replenishing their forwards.

Pittsburgh: The Penguins lost out on Marian Hossa and got Brooks Orpik back on a bargain of a contract, but Marc-Andre Fleury's likely to cost a pretty penny. Even still, they'll have about $9-million (or more if there's a salary-cutting trade) to find forwards to play with Sid Crosby and friends.

Atlanta: Even after giving Ron Hainsey a big-time contract, the Thrashers have $25-million cap space with only Kari Lehtonen to re-sign. They need help at centre and on the wings, but don't expect perennial money-loser Atlanta to spend close to the cap. Even still, there's about $8-million in play.

Los Angeles: The Kings have the most cap room in the NHL, $27-million, a figure that will drop to about $20-million once the team signs its RFAs. Los Angeles needs at least one more NHL defenceman, but GM Dean Lombardi has indicated he will not spend to the cap.

Buffalo: The Sabres are closing in on their self-imposed cap once their three key RFAs are signed, although GM Darcy Regier is looking to add a defenceman from the free agent pool.

Other teams with cash (estimated after signing RFAs): N.Y. Islanders ($12-million), Columbus ($11-million), Ottawa ($8-million), Montreal ($7-million), Toronto ($7-million), N.Y. Rangers ($5-million)

*Note that teams like the Islanders and Blue Jackets are unlikely to spend to the cap.

The only teams I didn't list are Edmonton and San Jose, both of whom are likely to spend $3- to $4-million for upgrades (barring salary dumps).

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At 12:40 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm scared that the Canucks are going to end up using their available cap space on stop-gap type players and end up finishing worse than last year (which could bode well for draft position). I'm not sure they even have a strong plan B, and things could get really ugly in Vancouver.

Even if they manage to sign Sundin, I'm not convinced that makes them a playoff team unless they sign two more decent forwards. So, if they can't sign Sundin, which it looks like they won't, I say that they bite the damn bullet and rebuild the proper way - which means trading Luongo.

At 12:45 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger bvllets said...

Who knows where the Sabres are going to get a defenseman. Most of the good ones are gone now. I've heard rumors that Regier is still talking to Teppo Numminen. I really don't want to keep him on at age 40. He played one game for us last year. Wow.

Will someone just give us a defenseman?

At 1:11 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Montreal has closer to $8m or so, because Mathieu Dandenault and his $1.75m salary is going to be gone if they do land a guy like Sundin. They just dealt Grabovski to Toronto, so that's about $750,000 to a RFA that was going to be a 13th forward or so. Of course, that money will probably be about what Brisebois would get if he returns as the 6th/7th D, so that's not terribly significant. Once Halak and Gorges are signed we'll have a better idea as to how much is left for the 1 big player.

At 1:11 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger NYIsles1/IslesTigers said...

New York cannot spend to the cap because the roster is packed with prospects who would have to clear waivers like Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini and they are apparently giving Kyle Okposo the first shot at Miro Satan's spot.

There is also Frans Nielsen, Jeremy Colliton, Ben Walter to fight it out with Andy Hilbert for a spot.

And there is Bergenheim who was excellent last season and only getting better.

I did not even get to Josh Baily or some of the draft picks from the last three years.

It does not seem about the money for New York. Have to give those prospects a chance.

Otherwise its the Milbury plan revisited.

At 1:16 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous GeeIWonder said...

Chicago are allowed to be 10 percent over in the off season, right? I think, with the bonus cushion gone (at least until the season begins), Chicago's already over that, no?

Do I have that right? Are there any consequences that you'd know of?

At 1:48 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Chicago are allowed to be 10 percent over in the off season, right? I think, with the bonus cushion gone (at least until the season begins), Chicago's already over that, no?

Do I have that right? Are there any consequences that you'd know of?

I've noticed that Chicago is over if you include Cam Barker as part of the total. He's on a 2 way contract and is not waiver eligible, and with Campbell on board it's reasonable to assume they'll put him in the AHL next year. He's got a $3.4m cap hit due to bonuses.

I'm not sure how it works right now for them to sign other players, but they aren't over the cap if you take Barker out and they certainly aren't 10% over the cap as the league allows in the offseason.

At 1:52 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger The Gate To The Groin For Yannick Bertrand said...

Was the Grabovski move anything more than getting rid of a whiner who screwed with team chemistry?

At 2:09 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Darren said...

The Canucks re-signed Curtis Sanford, so they've got two goalies under contract. Sanford can look forward to another eight game season, I imagine.

At 2:20 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Karina said...

Pens seem to be done with their signings of Satan and Fedotenko.

I think that puts Naslund back in Vancouver, at around $4mill.

Any word on Morrison? I really wouldn't mind seeing him in the blue & white...

At 2:35 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Sportsnet reported last night that Minneosta is negotiating with Naslund and Morrison (no word on Bert for the full WCE reunion), for what it's worth.

Was the Grabovski move anything more than getting rid of a whiner who screwed with team chemistry?

Probably a trade that started with the Sundin negotiating deal (i.e. Toronto was to get Grabovski in return if Sundin signed), but from Montreal's perspective, more that Grabovski had 2 small, skilled centres ahead of him and that he hadn't cracked a regular spot at age 24. They've dealt with far worse malcontents than Grabovski, who seemed more unsure of his role then anything with that episode in Phoenix.

At 3:29 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger Black Dog said...

How brutal are the Leafs going to be? Seven million left and short legitimate players or prospects up front.

At least they have the fifth best dman in the western Conference.

At 3:42 p.m., July 03, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Will someone just give us a defenseman?

I'd let you have Andreas Lilja for free, but Ken Holland seems to disagree with me.

At 5:08 p.m., July 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scratch Naslund off the list ... off to NYR. The Canucks options are beginning to dwindle even further. I hope Gillis didn't pin his hopes on one UFA offer...


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