How New 2014-15 Salary-Cap Projections Will Affect Every NHL Team

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2014

How New 2014-15 Salary-Cap Projections Will Affect Every NHL Team

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    Last December, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman informed the league's Board of Governors the salary-cap maximum for 2014-15 was projected to rise to $71.1 million, with the cap minimum expected to be around $52 million. At the time, the value of the Canadian dollar compared to the American dollar was at .94 cents. Three months later, it slid to .90 cents. Though Canada has only seven NHL teams, they make up a significant portion of league revenue. As the salary cap is tied to revenue, a notable and sustained decline in the Canadian dollar would affect the cap.

    On March 1, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi reported Bettman claimed the decline in the Canadian dollar wouldn't impact his original cap projection. He noted the computation of hockey-related revenue (HRR) and revenue sharing are in American dollars, which would account for Canadian dollar fluctuations.

    Several days later, the Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott reported Kings general manager Dean Lombardi claimed the league informed him the recent decline in the Canadian dollar meant the salary cap will be “significantly lower” than projected, perhaps dropping to $68 million. The New York Post's Larry Brooks reported sources confirm next season's cap could come in between $68-$71 million.

    Earlier this season, we examined the effects for each NHL team next season with a cap ceiling at $71 million. Here's a look at the effect of a $68 million salary cap upon each club for next season.

     

    Current cap space projections as of March 11, 2014 courtesy of CapGeek.com.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $23.1 million.

     

    Projected space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $20 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Jonas Hiller, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Stephane Robidas, Daniel Winnik, Jakob Silfverberg, Mathieu Perreault.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: It should be minimal. The most expensive re-signing is Hiller. He's earning $4.5 million per season on his current contract and could seek an annual salary of $6 million. Having dealt Viktor Fasth to Edmonton, GM Bob Murray could re-sign Hiller.

    Selanne is expected to retire, as could Koivu. Robidas is considered a playoff rental. Silfverberg, Winnik and Perreault will be affordable re-signings. Murray should have sufficient space to re-sign his key players and perhaps pursue a second-line center this summer via trade or free agency.

Boston Bruins

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $9.1 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $6 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Jarome Iginla, Reilly Smith, Shawn Thornton, Andrej Meszaros, Torey Krug, Chad Johnson.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli will free up an additional $4 million next season by placing center Marc Savard (concussion) on long-term injured reserve. However, CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman reported last fall that Iginla's $3.7 million bonus for playing 10 NHL games this season will be applied to next season's cap space. Chiarelli won't have much cap space to retain all his key free agents without shedding some salary elsewhere from his roster. It will also hamper his efforts to bolster his depth via free agency or trades.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Current projected cap space: $34.6 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $31.5 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Henrik Tallinder, Jamie McBain, Zenon Konopka, John Scott.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: With $36.9 million already invested in 13 players, the rebuilding Sabres must spend enough to reach the cap minimum, which could be $50 million. GM Tim Murray will have plenty of cap space to re-sign key free agents and bring in additional talent.

    Prior to the trade deadline, the Buffalo News' Mike Harrington reported (via Twitter) the Sabres were entertaining offers for defensemen Tyler Myers ($5.5 million annual cap hit) and Christian Ehrhoff ($4 million cap hit). Depending on the return, moving either player this summer will free up considerably more space for other acquisitions.

Calgary Flames

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $29.7 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $26.6 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Mike Cammalleri, T.J. Galiardi, Chris Butler, Joe Colborne, Kevin Westgarth.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Last December, The Score.com reported Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke claimed his club was prepared to spend to the cap for 2014-15. They'll have sufficient cap space to re-sign most of their notable free agents.

    Burke attempted to re-sign Cammalleri before the trade deadline. Despite the Flames' willingness to spend, he could depart via free agency. If so, they will still have sufficient cap space to acquire additional talent.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $23.2 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $20.1 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Joni Pitkanen, Ron Hainsey, Jiri Tlusty, Drayson Bowman, Brett Bellemore, Justin Peters.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Should the Hurricanes miss the playoffs this season, significant roster changes could be coming. Provided the team's ownership is willing to spend to the cap ceiling, GM Jim Rutherford will have sufficient space to shake things up.

    In January, the Raleigh News and Observer's Luke DeCock raised questions about goaltender Cam Ward's future with the Hurricanes. If Rutherford trades Ward, he could use some of his remaining cap space to pick up part of the goalie's $6.3 million annual cap hit.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $5.2 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $2.1 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Michal Handzus, Peter Regin, Antti Raanta, Ben Smith, Sheldon Brookbank.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap:  A lower-than-projected cap ceiling will hamper general manager Stan Bowman's efforts to re-sign his remaining free agents. All the Blackhawks' core players (including superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) are under contract for next season. Bowman will also lack cap space to pursue free-agent talent. Any trades will have to be either dollar-for-dollar deals or those which allow him to shed salary.

Colorado Avalanche

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: 28.5 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $25.4 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly, Jamie McGinn, J.S. Giguere, Tyson Barrie, Cory Sarich, Andre Benoit, Reto Berra.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: If ownership is willing to spend to the cap ceiling, there should be sufficient room to re-sign the Avs' key free agents. Retaining O'Reilly will be expensive. The Denver Post's Adrian Dater reports it will take $6.5 million just to qualify his rights. Dater's colleague Terry Frei reports Stastny, currently earning an annual cap hit of $6.6 million, is willing to accept a hometown discount. It could cost the Avalanche around $12 million annually to re-sign the pair. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $22.1 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $19 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Ryan Johansen, Nick Schultz, Nikita Nikitin, Curtis McElhinney.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: It shouldn't affect GM Jarmo Kekalainen's ability re-sign emerging star Ryan Johansen to either a two-year bridge deal or a long-term extension. Kekalainen will also have enough to re-sign or replace veteran unrestricted free agents like Schultz and Nikitin. He made a bold move last summer signing winger Nathan Horton and could have sufficient cap room for another significant acquisition this summer.

Dallas Stars

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $20.9 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $17.8 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler, Antoine Roussel, Cody Eakin, Tim Thomas.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: The Stars didn't spend fully toward this season's $64.3 million cap. It remains to be seen if ownership will spend toward next season's ceiling. GM Jim Nill will favor re-signing younger free agents like Roussel and Eakin over aging players like Whitney, Thomas and Fiddler. Nill could also pursue more affordable veterans via free agency. Last summer, he pulled off a major deal with Boston that brought Tyler Seguin to Dallas. There should be sufficient space if Nill decides to pursue another significant acquisition.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $20.7 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $17.6 million.

     

    Notable free agents: David Legwand, Daniel Alfredsson, Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonas Gustavsson.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has no problem keeping pace with the cap ceiling. A lower-than-projected cap, however,  could make it difficult for GM Ken Holland to re-sign his promising young players (Tatar, DeKeyser) and notable veterans like Legwand and Alfredsson. It could also hamper Holland's search for a skilled top-two defenseman.

Edmonton Oilers

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $27.6 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $24.5 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Ryan Smyth, Justin Schultz, Anton Belov, Philip Larsen, Jeff Petry.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: The Oilers stayed well under this season's cap ceiling. It remains to be seen if they'll spend to the $68 million ceiling. GM Craig MacTavish will have sufficient space to re-sign his key free agents, especially the promising Schultz. MacTavish should also have room to continue his search for a top-two defenseman and a second-line center. 

Florida Panthers

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $30.3 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $27.2 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Dmitry Kulikov, Tom Gilbert, Erik Gudbranson.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Sun-Sentinel.com's Harvey Fialkov reported Panthers owner Vinnie Viola gave GM Dale Tallon the green light to spend to the cap if necessary next season. A lower-than-projected cap ceiling shouldn't hamper Tallon's ongoing efforts to rebuild his club. The Panthers currently have 14 players under contract for 2014-15.  Expect Tallon to be busy re-signing his key free agents while once again shopping for veteran talent.

Los Angeles Kings

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    Current projected cap space: $14.6 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $11.5 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Marian Gaborik, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Trevor Lewis, Dwight King.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: It was GM Dean Lombardi who first mentioned next season's cap could be lower than projected in an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Helene Elliott. While Lombardi has all his core players under contract next season, he's concerned a lower-than-projected cap could make it difficult to re-sign Mitchell, Greene and Lewis. He won't have enough room to retain Gaborik. Lombardi also lacks sufficient cap space to bolster his roster via free agency. Potential trades could be a dollar-for-dollar proposition for the Kings.

Minnesota Wild

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $24.2 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $21.1 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Dany Heatley, Matt Moulson, Darcy Kuemper, Ilya Bryzgalov, Nino Niederreiter.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: The Wild have consistently kept pace with the cap ceiling in recent years. Expect that trend to continue next season.

    Heatley and Bryzgalov aren't expected to be re-signed. GM Chuck Fletcher could pursue Thomas Vanek (who resides in Minnesota in the offseason) via free agency. Failing that, Moulson could be a more affordable option. Fletcher should have sufficient space to re-sign young free agents like Kuemper and Niederreiter.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $27.3 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $24.2 million.

     

    Notable free agents: P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Thomas Vanek, Brian Gionta, Lars Eller.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: A drop of $3.1 million from the original projected cap ceiling still gives GM Marc Bergevin sufficient space to re-sign Subban and Markov. Subban, winner of the 2013 Norris Trophy, could command over $8 million per season. Markov could also prove an expensive re-signing, perhaps around $5.5 million. ESPN.com's Katie Strang reported last month that Vanek intends to test the free-agent market. He is likely too expensive for Bergevin to re-sign. Gionta will probably depart via free agency.

Nashville Predators

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    Current projected cap space: $23.6 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $20.5 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Michael Del Zotto, Carter Hutton, Ryan Ellis, Patrick Eaves.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: It shouldn't adversely affect GM David Poile's efforts to re-sign his key free agents. All his core players are under contract for next season. Poile should have enough cap space to pursue some much-needed scoring punch, but that could depend on ownership's willingness to spend toward the cap ceiling.

New Jersey Devils

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    Current projected cap space: $21.1 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $18 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Martin Brodeur, Jaromir Jagr, Marek Zidlicky, Eric Gelinas.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Hard as it is to believe, the Devils could finally part ways with Brodeur next season. GM Lou Lamoriello could re-sign Jagr, the Devils' best player throughout this season. Gelinas will be re-signed but it remains to be seen if Zidlicky has a future in New Jersey. Lamoriello should have enough cap space to sign an affordable replacement for Brodeur and add another scoring forward.

New York Islanders

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    Current projected cap space: $32.9 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $29.8 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Evgeni Nabokov, Anders Nilsson, Casey Cizikas, Calvin de Haan.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Islanders owner Charles Wang tends to keep payroll near the cap minimum. With over $41.8 million invested in 16 players, GM Garth Snow should easily reach the cap floor. The Islanders need help throughout their roster. Landing a true starting goaltender and shoring up the blue-line depth should be Snow's offseason priority.

New York Rangers

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    Current projected cap space: $17.9 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $14.8 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: GM Glen Sather re-signed Dan Girardi and dispatched Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay, but he could still find it tough retaining his remaining notable free agents.

    The Rangers currently have over $53 million invested in 12 players next season. Restricted free agents Zuccarello, Brassard and Kreider could cost a combined $10 million to re-sign. Sather also lacks cap room to pursue this summer's top unrestricted free agents.

Ottawa Senators

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    Current projected cap space: $22.4 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $19.3 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Ales Hemsky, Milan Michalek, Robin Lehner.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has made his club more cost-conscious in recent years. With nearly $50 million already committed to 16 players next season, that's unlikely to change.

    Lehner will be re-signed, as could trade deadline pick-up Hemsky. Should Michalek depart, they'll once again need an affordable scoring winger. Last summer, GM Bryan Murray acquired Bobby Ryan via trade from Anaheim. Murray could once again draw upon his depth in young players for another top-six forward. 

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Current projected cap space: $12.6 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $9.5 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Kimmo Timonen, Brayden Schenn, Andrew MacDonald, Erik Gustafsson, Steve Downie, Ray Emery.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: The Flyers already had limited cap space under the previous cap projection. They will get $4.9 million in cap relief by placing Chris Pronger on long-term injured reserve. Timonen could retire, allowing GM Paul Holmgren to re-sign the recently acquired Andy MacDonald.

    Holmgren lacks cap space to make a splash in this summer's pool of unrestricted free-agent talent. Any notable offseason additions will have to be via trade, in either dollar-for-dollar deals or moves that allow the Flyers to shed salary.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Current projected cap space: $18.8 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $15.7 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Radim Vrbata, Derek Morris, Thomas Greiss, David Moss.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: With over $52 million invested in 16 players, the Coyotes' new ownership team could be willing to spend toward next season's cap ceiling. That will allow GM Don Maloney to re-sign key players like Vrbata, Morris and perhaps Greiss. It could also provide Maloney the opportunity to pursue an affordable free-agent signing or two.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Current projected cap space: $15.9 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $12.8 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Brooks Orpik, Jussi Jokinen, Matt Niskanen, Lee Stempniak, Brandon Sutter, Marcel Goc, Simon Despres, Tomas Vokoun.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi reports Penguins GM Ray Shero remains interested in Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler. His $5 million annual cap hit becomes harder to absorb under a $68 million cap. It will also make it difficult for Shero re-sign key free agents like Orpik, Jokinen and Niskanen.

San Jose Sharks

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    Don Smith/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $12.3 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $9.2 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Dan Boyle, Jason Demers, Tommy Wingels. Alex Stalock.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: A $3.1 million reduction in the projected cap ceiling could hurt the Sharks' efforts to re-sign Boyle. Unless GM Doug Wilson can shed some salary, it could be the end of Boyle's tenure with the Sharks. It could cost over $5 million just to re-sign or replace Demers, Wingels and Stalock.

St. Louis Blues

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $26.4 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $23.3 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Ryan Miller, Patrik Berglund, Steve Ott, Brenden Morrow, Vladimir Sobotka, Jaden Schwartz, Brian Elliott.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford reports Miller is open to staying with the Blues. If Miller re-signs, GM Doug Armstrong could promote Jake Allen as the new backup and let Elliott depart via free agency. If ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling, Armstrong should be able to re-sign most of his key free agents. The focus could be on retaining younger free agents like Berglund, Sobotka and Schwartz over Ott and Morrow.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Current projected cap space: $24.6 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $21.5 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Ryan Callahan, Sami Salo, Anders Lindback, Alex Killorn.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: It remains to be seen if the recently acquired Callahan is willing to re-sign and for how much. He sought over $6.5 million per season (with a no-trade clause) from the New York Rangers. If GM Steve Yzerman can get Callahan under a more affordable deal, he shouldn't have much difficulty re-signing or replacing his other free agents. Other than Callahan and Salo, the rest are depth players.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $22.3 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $19.2 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Dave Bolland, James Reimer, Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McClement, Mason Raymond.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Whatever moves GM Dave Nonis has planned for his club will be determined more by their playoff performance than the cap ceiling. A drop in the projected cap ceiling, however, could affect his efforts to bolster his defense.

    Bolland, Franson and Gardiner are likely to be re-signed, though Bolland will have to come down from his demands for $5 million per season. Reimer could be traded, while Kuelmin, McClement and Raymond could be allowed to depart via free agency. 

Vancouver Canucks

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Current projected cap space: $11.4 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $8.3 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Zack Kassian, Chris Tanev, Mike Santorelli.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Given the Canucks' free-fall in the standings and their recent trade of Roberto Luongo, GM Mike Gillis could be focused upon rebuilding by shedding some high-salaried players for more affordable talent. Prior to the trade deadline, Gillis fielded offers for Ryan Kesler and Alexander Edler (combined $10 million annual cap hits) and could move one or both this summer. That will free up additional cap space to add depth elsewhere via trades or free agency.

Washington Capitals

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    Current projected cap space: $16.9 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $13.8 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Dustin Penner, Dmitry Orlov.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Having finally signed the promising Evgeny Kuznetsov, GM George McPhee's focus will turn this summer to re-signing Grabovski and Orlov. Halak is simply a rental player, as Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer will be the team's goalie tandem next season. If Penner fits in well, he could be re-signed to an affordable deal. A lower-than-projected ceiling could hamper efforts to add a shutdown defenseman.

Winnipeg Jets

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    Current projected cap space: $21.1 million.

     

    Available space under a $68 million cap ceiling: $18 million.

     

    Notable free agents: Olli Jokinen, Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Al Montoya, Keaton Ellerby.

     

    Impact of a lower-than-projected cap: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has traditionally eschewed big offseason acquisitions. With his Jets currently on the playoff bubble, his potential moves this summer could be determined by where they finish the season. Even then, he could opt once again for more affordable trade and free-agent additions. A lower cap ceiling shouldn't affect his plans.