NHL Lockout: 6 Teams in Trouble When the Salary Cap Number Is Reduced
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The current salary cap for all teams in the NHL is $70.2 million.
When a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is finally signed and put in place, that salary cap is likely to drop dramatically.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal estimates that the salary cap ceiling will be in the range of $60 million by the time the season begins.
That's a huge blow for players who have signed large contracts that may put them in jeopardy with their current teams. Cuts are going to have to be made and players are going to have to play for less money.
Several teams will be in trouble. They are going to have to make roster alterations. They may have to get rid of high-price players and bring up minimum-salary types from the minor leagues if big-money players are not willing to accept major cuts.
Many teams will face difficulties with a lower salary cap. Here are six teams who could face the most trouble once the new salary cap is implemented.
(All salary cap and salary figures are courtesy of CapGeek.com.)
The Bruins have more salary committed to spend in the 2012-13 season than any other NHL team.
CapGeek.com reports that the Bruins will spend $68,867,976 in 2012-13 once the season gets underway.
That amount will be prorated to account for the games lost during the lockout, but the Bruins will have to get rid of nearly $9 million in salary to reach the cap ceiling.
Defenseman Zdeno Chara is scheduled to be the highest-paid Bruins player this season. He has a cap figure of slightly more than $6.9 million. Center David Krejci is set to earn $5.25 million and is the highest-paid forward. Goalie Tim Thomas, who is going to take the 2012-13 season off, is still on the books for $5 million.
The Bruins appear to be one of the strongest teams in the league from a personnel perspective, but general manager Peter Chiarelli will have to do a lot of work to reconfigure the Bruins' salaries if he doesn't want to diminish the team's talent level.
Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher appeared to hit the motherlode during the summer when he signed top free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to huge contracts.
The moves appeared to strengthen the Wild dramatically and make them playoff contenders. Minnesota has failed to make the playoffs in the last four seasons.
The Wild is committed to spending $68,848,867 in salary in 2012-13, the second-highest amount in the league behind the Bruins.
The addition of Parise and Suter make up a huge chunk of that salary commitment. Both Parise and Suter are scheduled to earn more than $7.5 million in 2012-13.
Winger Dany Heatley is scheduled to earn $7.5 million, and he would appear to be significantly overpaid based on his recent production. Heatley has totaled 50 goals in his last two seasons.
The Canucks have the third-highest payroll in the league.
They are scheduled to pay out $67,768,333 in salaries in 2012-13.
The Canucks have been among the top teams in the league on a consistent basis. They were eliminated from the postseason by the last three Stanley Cup champions.
Twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin are the two highest-paid players on the Canucks. Both brothers are scheduled to earn $6.1 million this season.
Goalie Roberto Luongo is still with the Canucks. The team has been trying to find an equitable trade for him, but until they move him, they are still responsible for his $5.333 million salary (source: Toronto Globe and Mail).
Forward Ryan Kesler is on the books for $5 million, too.
A reduced salary cap could ultimately benefit the Calgary Flames.
They have the league's fourth-highest payroll at $66,668,332 on the books for the 2012-13 season, so a salary-cap cut to $60 million would cause a lot of short-term pain for Calgary general manager Jay Feaster.
However, a reduced salary cap would force Feaster to confront his team's aging roster. He might finally decide to pull the trigger on trading stars like Jarome Iginla ($7 million) and Miikka Kiprusoff ($5.833 million).
The Flames need young players and draft choices, and trading those two stars would allow them to accumulate both of those commodities while cutting 2012-13 payroll.
The Flyers may be in huge trouble once the lockout ends and the season begins.
They have the fifth-highest payroll in the league and are scheduled to pay out $66,643,373 in salary in the 2012-13 season.
Despite that high payroll, the Flyers may have significant problems on defense, thanks to the concussion issues that are likely to keep Chris Pronger sidelined (source: Philly.com) for the foreseeable future and other injuries on the blue line (source: CentreIceChat.com).
They will be more than $6.6 million over the cap, but they will need to find defensemen to help troubled goalie Ilya Bryzgalov keep the puck out of the net.
Danny Briere is scheduled to earn $6.5 million. He is the highest-paid player on the Flyers.
San Jose Sharks
The window of opportunity appears to be closing on the veteran San Jose Sharks.
They have never gotten out of the Western Conference playoffs, and they probably don't have more than one or two years to get it done.
They also have the sixth-highest payroll in the league. The Sharks are scheduled to pay out $65,241,667 in 2012-13.
The Sharks have five players who are slated to earn $5 million or more, led by Joe Thornton's $7 million salary. Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns are also scheduled to exceed the $5 million mark in salary.