NHL

How Every NHL Team Will Be Affected by the Salary-Cap Increase

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2013

How Every NHL Team Will Be Affected by the Salary-Cap Increase

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    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently informed the league Board of Governors the salary-cap maximum for 2014-15 is projected to rise to $71.1 million, with the cap minimum expected to be around $52 million.

    For some NHL clubs, this is good news, providing them more cap space in the offseason to re-sign key players and pursue free-agent talent. For those with self-imposed budgets, the increase won't have much of an impact upon their spending. For those struggling to keep pace with the rising cap floor, it could force them into spending more than they planned. For every club, the rising cap will certainly affect their roster moves for the remainder of this season and into the summer.

    Here's a look at every NHL club, their available cap space and how the increase will affect their respective budgets.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $26 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Jonas Hiller, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, Jakob Silfverberg.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: It provides Ducks management with plenty of room for Penner, Silfverberg and Cogliano, who shouldn't be expensive to retain. Given the Ducks' depth in goal, it remains to be seen if Hiller ($4.5 million) will be re-signed. If his asking price is reasonable, there should enough to retain him if they choose. There should also be sufficient space to add affordable replacements for Selanne and Koivu, who are expected to retire at season's end.

Boston Bruins

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $9 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Jarome Iginla, Torey Krug, Shawn Thornton, Reilly Smith.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Though the Bruins have 17 players under contract for 2014-15, they lack sufficient cap space to re-sign all their key free agents. They can, however, free up an additional $4 million by placing center Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve if necessary. Their limited space could hamper efforts to retain or replace Iginla, especially if he achieves all his performance bonuses this season. The way his contract is structured, those bonuses will count against their 2014-15 payroll

Buffalo Sabres

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    Jen Fuller/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $41 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson, Steve Ott, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: With only 11 players totalling nearly $30 million under contract next season, the Sabres have more than enough space to re-sign or replace their key free agents. If ownership decides not to spend up near the cap ceiling, management must still allocate at least $23 million to be above the $52 million cap minimum for 2014-15. Expect the Sabres to be among the busiest clubs in next summer's trade and free-agent markets.

Calgary Flames

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $37 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Reto Berra.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke recently claimed his rebuilding club will be “a cap team at all times.” They must spend at least $19 million to reach next season's $52 million cap minimum. Their new general manager should be in place by season's end. Whoever it is, they could seek replacements for Cammalleri, Stajan and Stempniak, who aren't expected to return. Given Burke's comments, they shouldn't have much difficulty re-signing or replacing their other free agents.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $22 million

     

    Notable Free Agents: Joni Pitkanen, Jiri Tlusty, Justin Faulk, Ron Hainsey, Anton Khudobin.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: The Hurricanes have sufficient space to re-sign key players and pursue replacements, but it remains to be seen if ownership spends toward the $71 million cap ceiling. If not, management will be hard-pressed to address the team's roster needs. The 'Canes currently have over $49 million invested in 12 players for 2014-15. They're unlikely to re-sign the oft-injured Pitkanen, which could put them in the market for an offensive defenseman. Tlusty, Hainsey and Khudobin also face uncertain futures in Carolina.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $7 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Antti Raanta, Michal Handzus, Ben Smith, Brandon Bollig.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Expect the Blackhawks to be bumping up against next season's cap ceiling. The bad news is they don't have much cap space heading into the offseason. The good news is they've got all their key players under contract and their remaining free agents should be affordable to re-sign. They won't be in any position to add significant salary via free agency, and any trades will have to be of the dollar-for-dollar variety.

Colorado Avalanche

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $36 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Paul Stastny, Semyon Varlamov, Ryan O'Reilly, J.S. Giguere.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: In recent years, ownership hasn't kept pace with the cap ceiling, so this increase could mean little to them if the trend continues. They must spend $16 million to be cap compliant. Re-signing Varlamov and O'Reilly to big raises will help, as will retaining Stastny if he's willing to accept a pay cut from $6.6 million per season. Failing that, the Avs could seek dip into the free-agent market to replace him. They could pursue some experienced blue-line depth.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $22 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Marian Gaborik, Ryan Johansen, Nikita Nikitin.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Ownership has kept pace with the rising cap ceiling, but so far the Jackets haven't received much bang for their buck. They surprised the hockey world last summer by signing Nathan Horton and could make a big splash in next summer's free-agent pool. It's unlikely oft-injured Gaborik or the disappointing Nikitin will be re-signed. There's plenty of room to re-sign blossoming star Johansen. The Jackets could also be active in the trade market.

Dallas Stars

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    Don Smith/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $22 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler, Stephane Robidas, Antoine Roussel.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi is committed to rebuilding the Stars for the long term around a young core like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin. Payroll might not reach toward the cap ceiling, but general manager Jim Nill should have sufficient space to bid for a free-agent star. He could seek affordable replacements for Whitney, Fiddler and possibly Robidas via trades and free agency. Nill should have little difficulty re-signing restricted free agents like Roussel.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $20 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Daniel Alfredsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser, Jonas Gustavsson.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: The cap ceiling isn't an obstacle for Red Wings owner Mike Illich, so expect next season's payroll to approach $71 million. GM Ken Holland should have plenty of room to re-sign promising players like Tartar and DeKeyser to reasonable contracts. He should also have enough to keep or replace aging stars like Alfredsson and Bertuzzi. Some of that cap space could be put toward inking a top-six forward or an experienced defenseman.

Edmonton Oilers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $36 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Nick Schultz, Justin Schultz, Devan Dubnyk, Ilya Bryzgalov.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: With only nine players under contract next season, the Oilers must spend at least $16 million to reach the cap minimum. In recent years, their defensive play has been an issue, so expect management to invest that cap space next summer to bolster their goaltending, defense and checking lines. They'll certainly re-sign Justin Schultz, but Hemsky and Smyth aren't expected back. It remains to be seen if their other notable free agents have a future in Edmonton.

Florida Panthers

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    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $36 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Tim Thomas, Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson, Marcel Goc, Brad Boyes.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: New owner Vinnie Viola claims he's willing to spend to turn the Panthers into a championship team. Next summer will be his first opportunity to prove it when GM Dale Tallon attempts to re-sign his notable free agents or find suitable replacements. They'll have to spend $12 million to reach the $52 million cap minimum and more if they move some of their veterans at the trade deadline. Expect the Panthers to be among the league's busiest clubs next summer.

Los Angeles Kings

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $15 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell, Ben Scrivens, Dwight King.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: GM Dean Lombardi has done a fine job keeping most of his roster intact over the past two years. The cap increase should make it easier to do it again. There's not enough for the Kings to pursue expensive talent next summer, but with their core players already under contract, there's no need. Lombardi has enough room to re-sign or replace his key free agents and still have enough to make some depth signings.

Minnesota Wild

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    Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $21 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Dany Heatley, Nino Niederreiter.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Over the past two years, the Wild have spent near the cap ceiling, so expect them to keep pace next season. The Wild aren't shy about pursuing talent, and GM Chuck Fletcher could use his cap space to make another major acquisition in the offseason. Their target could be New York Islanders winger Thomas Vanek, who lives in Minnesota in the offseason. The fading Heatley won't be re-signed and their remaining free agents are affordable to retain.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $27 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Lars Eller, Brian Gionta.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Five members of the Canadiens' current defense corps are eligible for free agency next summer. Expect GM Marc Bergevin to use the bulk of his cap space to address that issue. The increase will certainly help Bergevin re-sign Subban, as the 2013 Norris winner could be in line for over $8 million per season. There's also enough for Markov provided he accepts less than his current $5.75 million per season. Eller should be an affordable re-signing, but Gionta isn't expected to return.

Nashville Predators

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    John Russell/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $18 million

     

    Notable Free Agents: David Legwand, Nick Spaling, Ryan Ellis.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: The Predators usually work under a lower self-imposed cap maximum. That lower ceiling could affect GM David Poile's efforts to improve his offense. They also have 18 players under contract for next season and not many to re-sign. Except for Legwand, their free agents are mainly affordable depth players. If Legwand doesn't return, Poile must find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency, which could stretch his budget.

New Jersey Devils

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $23 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Martin Brodeur, Jaromir Jagr, Marek Zidlicky, Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: New Devils owner Josh Harris could allow GM Lou Lamoriello to keep up with the rising cap to improve the roster in the offseason. Expect Lamoriello to invest this cap space in re-signing or replacing Brodeur, Jagr and Zidlicky, as well as affordable re-signings of Larsson and Gelinas. ESPN's Neil Greenberg speculates Lamoriello could free up some additional cap room with a compliance buyout of defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

New York Islanders

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $33 million

     

    Notable Free Agents: Tomas Vanek, Andrew MacDonald, Evgeni Nabokov.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Islanders owner Charles Wang traditionally keeps payroll just above the cap minimum. The Isles must spend nearly $13 million to reach that level. Islanders GM Garth Snow has surprised critics in the past by re-signing players otherwise expected to depart via free agency. Snow could retain MacDonald, but Vanek is expected to test the free-agent market. With Nabokov well past his prime, expect the Isles GM to pursue an experienced starting goaltender. Their blue line also needs improvement.

New York Rangers

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    Scott Levy/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $31 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: It significantly improves GM Glen Sather's chances of re-signing most of his free agents. With only 10 players under contract for 2014-15, Sather will have a busy summer. Re-signing Callahan and Girardi could cost a combined $11 million, potentially hampering efforts to add some free-agent scorers. That's prompted speculation that expensive center Brad Richards could be a compliance buyout candidate in June. Del Zotto is expected to be traded by the trade deadline.

Ottawa Senators

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    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $24 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Milan Michalek, Robin Lehner, Chris Phillips, Cory Conacher.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: In recent years, the Senators have become more budget-conscious. Don't expect them to be a cap-ceiling club next season. GM Bryan Murray could seek an affordable replacement for Michalek via free agency. He could also be in the market for a defenseman. Depending on his cap space, Murray might consider dollar-for-dollar trade options; Patrick Wiercioch and Colin Greening could be trade candidates. Lehner, Phillips and Conacher should be affordable re-signings.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $16 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Brayden Schenn, Kimmo Timonen, Steve Mason, Andrej Meszaros, Erik Gustafsson, Steve Downie, Michael Raffl.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: It won't be enough to re-sign all their key players. That will be addressed by placing Chris Pronger on long-term injured reserve, providing $4.9 million in cap relief. The usually free-spending Flyers could max out their payroll to retain their key free agents. GM Paul Holmgren is a wheeler-dealer, so don't discount a significant offseason move. If Holmgren doesn't re-sign Timonen, he will be in the market for a top-two defenseman.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $22 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Radim Vrbata, Derek Morris, Rostislav Klesla, David Moss.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Several years of ownership issues kept the Coyotes' payroll near the cap floor. They finally have new ownership in place and they're reportedly willing to spend. It remains to be seen if they'll approach the ceiling, but they won't be hovering near the cap minimum. GM Don Maloney finally has some cap flexibility to retain core players and pursue additional talent. Expect him to make a serious effort to retain Vrbata and possibly Morris.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $14 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Brooks Orpik, Tomas Vokoun, Matt Niskanen, Jussi Jokinen, Brandon Sutter, Simon Despres.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Though they have limited space, the Pens already have their core players under contract. This increase should help GM Ray Shero retain Orpik and other affordable free agents like Sutter and Despres. There won't be enough room to pursue big-name talent via free agency. If they fail to re-sign Orpik, there should be space to allow Shero dip into the free-agent pool for a replacement.

San Jose Sharks

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    Andy Devlin/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $25 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Jason Demers, Tommy Wingels.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: It significantly increases GM Doug Wilson's chances of re-signing Thornton, Marleau and Boyle, which could cost a combined $15 million. The Sharks usually keep pace with the cap maximum. Next season shouldn't be any different, especially if they want to re-sign their Big Three. Failure to keep any of them will force Wilson to seek replacements. Most of their remaining free agents are depth players and should be affordable to retain.

St. Louis Blues

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $23 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Jaroslav Halak, Derek Roy, Brenden Morrow, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Jaden Schwartz.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Though the Blues spent toward the cap ceiling this season, ESPN's Craig Custance claims they have their own internal budget, which could make it difficult to keep up with the league's big spenders. It's rumored they could pursue Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller by the March trade deadline or through free agency in July. If they don't spend up to the cap ceiling, however, adding Miller could hamper efforts to re-sign their key free agents.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $18 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Sami Salo, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Anders Lindback.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: With the Lightning's core players already under contract, the increase provides GM Steve Yzerman with sufficient room to re-sign or replace his free agents. Most of them are depth players and shouldn't be expensive to retain. If unable to re-sign Salo, expect Yzerman to use some of his cap space to acquire a replacement through the free-agent market.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $28 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Dion Phaneuf, James Reimer, Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Dave Bolland, Mason Raymond, Jay McClement.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: Expect GM Dave Nonis to use the bulk of his cap space to re-sign key players. Phaneuf and Bolland are the priorities, but it could take a combined $12 million to keep them in the fold. Enough room should be available for most of the rest. Some (like Reimer and Gardiner) could be traded to add depth at center and on defense. Cap space permitting, Nonis could also be active in the free-agent market.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $10 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Mike Santorelli, Chris Tanev, Zack Kassian.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: The Canucks already have their core players under contract for 2014-15. This increase won't provide sufficient space to pursue scoring depth via free agency next summer. GM Mike Gillis could shop around for a dollar-for-dollar trade, though such a move could also mean moving one of his core players. Most of his current free agents are depth players who should be affordable to retain.

Washington Capitals

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $10 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Mikhail Grabovski, Dmitry Orlov.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: The Capitals already have the bulk of their roster under contract for 2014-15. The increase should provide room to re-sign Grabovski and Orlov, but there won't be enough to make a splash in next summer's free-agent pool. If unable to trade winger Martin Erat this season, they could make him a compliance buyout candidate in June. That would free up an additional $4.5 million.

Winnipeg Jets

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    Lance Thomson/Getty Images

    Available Cap Space: $23 million.

     

    Notable Free Agents: Olli Jokinen, Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Mark Stuart, Al Montoya.

     

    Impact of the Cap Increase: If ownership is willing to keep pace with the cap ceiling, the Jets should have enough room to re-sign their free agents. They could also have sufficient space to pursue depth through trades or free agency. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff usually prefers affordable acquisitions over big-name talent. Don't expect him to engage in a major free-agent signing frenzy next summer.

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