The Great Salary Cap Challenge

David HeereSenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2008

This is my team for the great salary cap challenge and as any idiot can see is a RESPONSE to Greg Caggiano’s NHL Salary Cap Game: Greg Challenges You! article.

The Challenge:Build an NHL team consisting of twelve forwards, six defensemen, and two goaltenders.

The Rules: You need twenty players, so you must use players from twenty of the thirty NHL teams, which means you can’t have two players from the same team. But the players you choose still need to fit under the $56.7 million salary cap. (The amount must be the player’s salary in '08-09). Please go to for each team’s complete list of player salaries.

Key: Position, Name, Team, Salary (in millions)

No. 1 line

LW Alexander Ovechkin WAS $9

C Evgeni Malkin PIT $0.984

RW Anze Kopitar LAK $0.765


For my first line I did nothing really exciting or outside of the box. Malkin and Ovechkin are in my opinion the top two forwards in the league and were therefore givens. Malkin’s entry level salary helped cancel out Ovechkin’s $9 million a season. Next I needed what I call a “European/Russian power forward” to compliment these two beastly Russians. Anze Kopitar, aka the Slovenian national team, and his $765k salary were a perfect fit with his big size and skill set. My top line will not be out skated, pushed around, or out skilled by another line. The only problem I see is that they are all left-handed shots, but two of them are Centers so if one gets kicked out of the circle there is a spare.

No. 2 line

LW Dany Heatley OTT $10

C Ryan Getzlaf ANA $4.5

RW Rick Nash CLB $6.5


I thought about going the safe route on the next line and getting Zetterberg and Jason Pominville to stand on either side of a center and let their two-way ability and finesse run wild like everyone else did. That is really not a bad idea especially if this was a fantasy league, but I felt like I let my maverick side down so I went with this little number. Anyone recognize this line? Yes, this is the top line from the 2008 Canadian World Cup team. This line had 21 goals, 26 assists, and 47 combined points in 9 games against the best players in the world. This line already has chemistry built up and are proven scorers. The down side of this line is the $21 million price tag and that they will not look as good individually as they would if you actually put them together from a fantasy perspective.

No. 3 line

LW Zach Parise NJD $2.5

C Paul Stastny COL $0.710

RW Mike Richards PHI $5.4


My third line is my favorite line and a real roll of the dice. They are my two-way players with definitely offensive upside. This line is around 5’11”-6’0” and that is an average size, but they are all definitely not frail. There is an added benefit that they are all Centers and capable of taking a face-off, but they are all left-handed. The real selling point to me on this line is I predict if through some miracle of God this line actually got together they would have amazing chemistry. Technically proposing the existence of this line should make every Flyers’ and Devils’ fan explode in anger. Hell, I was even pondering putting Ryan Callahan on this line instead of Stastny just to see if I could stop the world from spinning. This line like the second line because I do not think it can be fully appreciated from a individual fantasy hockey perspective and would have to actually assembled to reap the full rewards.


No. 4 line

LW Milan Lucic BOS $0.585

C Alexandre Burrows VAN $0.525

RW Tom Kostopoulos MTL $0.90


Forth line is the usual cast of agitators. I wanted Daniel Carcillo and Zack Stortini, but neither of them is signed yet so I do not know what their salaries are. I am quite happy with my second picks even without the services of those two players. Last year this line contributed a combined 70 points. 70 points is not bad for a bunch of goons. Milan Lucic is the big guy at 6’4”, but I would not consider him a heavyweight fighter. This is more of an agitator line with some added offense than a true goon line.

Defensive Paring 1

RD Brent Burns MIN $3.0

LD Kyle McLaren SJS $2.5

Defensive Paring 2

RD Joe Corvo CAR $2.75

LD Duncan Keith CHI $1.6

Defensive Paring 3

RD Erik Johnson STL $0.850

LD Shane O'Brien TBL $1.125


My defense does not have as much of a complex though process behind it as my forwards did. They are big guys (average just under 6’3”) who put up a combined 188 points last year. There is a little bit of everything and the ratio is even for stay-at-home defensemen to puck moving defenseman. There is a good blend of age and youth and leadership. Shane O’Brien adds some extra fighting power. Just a solid back end at a budget $11.825 million


SG Dan Ellis NSH $1.5

BG Curtis Joseph TOR $0.7              


It killed me as a Devils’ fan to not pick Brodeur as my goalie, but I was in a cap crunch crisis and had already picked a Devil. I liked Dan Ellis out of Nashville. He faced a lot of shots and put up some pretty good numbers for a guy that was playing in the ECHL four years ago. To back him up I wanted a veteran guy who was dirt cheap, but might give my team the amazing season that Hasek gave the Red Wings a few years ago. I went with Cujo at a ridiculously low $700,000.

I did not build my team to be a fantasy team. I do not predict they will be the best team based on combining individual statistics from past years or future years. I put this team together based on skill sets, chemistry, and various other variables to win a Stanley Cup.  I know I am screwed next year when Malkin’s salary hits $9 million, but this team was just a for one year. This was just for fun and since I do not have a single player from the defending Stanley Cup Champions so I can actually compare my team to the Red Wings without cloning people.

My team total based on ‘08/’09 Salary: $56.394 million

My team total based on ‘08/’09 Cap Hit: $52.086 million


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