What will the NHL salary cap be in 2013-2014?
Twitter was ablaze this morning with news that the NHL lockout had finally ended, and surely this was the question on most everyone's minds. Gary Bettman told reporters around 5 a.m. that a tentative framework was in place, and soon after details began to emerge about the new CBA.
The salary cap, an issue that appeared to almost derail talks between the NHL and NHLPA a little over 24 hours ago, had finally been settled upon.
After all the back-and-forth, proposing and counter-proposing, will they-or-won't-theying, the cap has finally been set at a cool $64.3 million. So naturally the first question is, which teams does this put into a bind?
Here are five teams that are going to have to do a little shaking and moving to get under the cap next year.
The Boston Bruins had themselves a little extension-signing party over the summer despite rumblings of another lockout brewing (ha!). They signed Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand to new pacts during the dying days of the old CBA.
And now they'll have to do a little moving around to keep the young core they've aggressively sought intact.
Assuming that the Bruins will remain a cap team once the 2013-2014 season begins, quickly becoming compliant will be as simple as allowing Tim Thomas to walk and making another small persona change. It's at the end of the 2013-14 season that Boston will truly feel the effects of these extensions.
Nathan Horton will become an unrestricted free agent, as will Andrew Ferrance. Jordan Caron will see his entry-level deal expire and will surely be looking for a bit of a raise. Tack on needing to resign both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin at that same point, and there will be some tough choices to make in Boston.
It's not too tough to figure out how the Minnesota Wild ended up on this list.
There are nearly $200 million reasons why, and they are all heading directly into the bank accounts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The Wild may have got their free agent wishlist in the end, but it'll eventually force them to make some tough personal decisions.
With the cap coming down in 2013-2014, they'll need to be made sooner rather than later.
The Wild currently roster three players making in the excess of $7 million, with Mikko Koivu coming in just shy of that mark. The weakest link among these players is Dany Heatley, who also has a no-movement clause on his contract.
As do the rest of Minnesota's highest paid players, so there won't be a quick fix by moving any of them.
The trouble for this team doesn't stop there, however, as Matt Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Cal Clutterbuck (half of their current top-six defenders) and goaltender Niklas Backstrom all have contracts expiring at the end of 2013-14.
Interesting times ahead in Minnesota.
At first glance it appears that the Vancouver Canucks won't have much trouble getting under the new cap in 2013-2014. All they need to do is find a new home for Roberto Luongo and poof! All their cap complacency problems are solved.
That is until the end of the season at least, when 10 of their current 23 players see their contracts come to an end. Then it might not be an issue of staying cap-compliant. It will be an issue of keeping together a team that was the best in the NHL last season, in part to the role players they'd be losing at the end of 2013-14.
The Sedin twins will still be in place, but losing Manny Malhotra, Mason Raymond, Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre, Andrew Ebbett, Alexander Edler and Andrew Alberts at the same time is just a bit too much to overcome.
It'd take two or three farm teams combined to take the place of these NHL players. While all of them may not be in line for raises, just a few small moves north and the Canucks will be in a bad way. While they have a few youngsters ready to make the jump, losing half of your squad in free agency is never good for business.
I realize they'll be able to retain most of these players and may even be ready to let a few of them walk, but there will be a tough choice or two to make in the coming months for Vancouver. Especially if they can't quickly find a home for Luongo.
I still double-take every time I notice that the Calgary Flames have the fourth highest payroll in the NHL. It doesn't get much better as you look up and down the roster and and bear witness to the contracts management has given out over the years.
They aren't overpaying any one particular player massively (except for Jay Bouwmeester and Dennis Wideman), but they are overpaying just about everyone on their roster just a tad bit. And that will end up costing them when they are forced to comply with the new salary cap.
Making things hard on themselves like always, the Flames, on top of overpaying nearly everyone just a little bit, also handed out varied types of no-trade and no-movement clauses to 10 of their current players. 10!
Seriously, who gives Anton Babchuk a NTC if he won't come down in salary a little?
The Flames will also be forced to move a player or two if they want to hang on to what little young talent they have on the team. At the end of 2013-2014, Roman Cervenka, Mikael Backlund and Henrik Karlsson will all be up for new deals. And I'd imagine at least one of them will be getting a notable raise.
Also, some longtime captain named Jarome Iginla will be due for an extension as well.
Unlike the other teams on this list, the Philadelphia Flyers won't have any huge names coming off the books at the end of the second year of the CBA, and as such, once they get under, they should be able to remain there for the time being.
That being said, they'll still need to shave a couple million off the payroll at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season.
If Chris Pronger stays concussed forever, then the cap problem takes care of itself, more or less, as his salary would still be paid but wouldn't count against the cap (assuming that didn't change in this newest rendition... that detail hasn't leaked as of this writing).
But then the Flyers still need to come up with a blueliner or two to truly put themselves over the top and into contention for the Stanley Cup. Regardless of what they end up doing, we know that Paul Holmgren will have a few aces up his sleeve if it comes down to trades.
For the sake of some fun headlines, lets hope that it does.