A couple of days ago we looked at teams at or above the cap. Today lets take a look at team right below it.
What's different here of course is that these teams may be very comfortable where they are at salary wise and don't have to make any moves. Still with injuries and call ups there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room to play with here.
When things may get real interesting for these teams is actually when the season starts and if one of em stumbles they won't have a whole lot of room to make any moves thus salary dumps may be needed to shake things up.
San Jose Sharks - 55.326 mil
Interesting that the Sharks were one of the three teams last year to make the post-season who weren't in the top half of the league in spending. With the additions of Dan Boyle at 6 mil and Rob Blake at 5 mil which add to guys like Thornton (7.2), Marleau (6.3) and Nabokov (5.5) that has certainly changed.
Marleau of course was rumored to be on the move before his NTC (no trade clause) kicked in as it wasn't expected that the Sharks would spend this high. After the loss of Brian Campbell that did not happen and apparently ownership gave them the green light to spend more this summer. Should the Sharks need to cut back salary there are a player or two that could be moved.
Players who may get dumped:
Kyle McLaren seems to be a name that is tossed around most in San Jose circles. McLaren is a 31 year old defensemen slated to make 2.5 mil this season before becoming a UFA. He's a big rugged defensemen who can level some bone jarring hits (think Trevor Letowski a few years back) but isn't going to give you much offensively.
He's also been battling some injuries the last couple of season only getting in 61 and 67 games. He's a guy who would have some value on the market and with the additions of Boyle/Blake/Lukowich could find himself the odd man out in SJ.
Jonathan Cheechoo. After signing his big sweetheart deal that concluded his 93 point rocket richard winning season Cheechoo has seen his production dip the past two seasons. He scored 67 points two years ago and just 37 this past year.
He's on the books for 3 more years at 3, 3.5 & 3.5. If his game doesn't pick back up this season Sharks GM Doug Wilson may look to dump him but if he's only putting up 37 points playing next to guys like Marleau and Thornton then what will he do elsewhere?
Partrick Marleau. Yes I know he's got an NTC but hear me out. If things continue to sour for him in SJ (unlikely now that they brought in a new coach) it may be in both the team and the player's interest to pursue a change of scenery. I certainly don't see this playing out this offseason but I wouldn't rule it out mid-season should the team or Marleau struggle.
Unfortunately in both McLaren and Cheechoo the Jackets have enough of those kinds of players. They have shutdown d-men and they have wingers who need centers to get them the puck. Should Marleau become available depending on how Brassard is coming along I could most certainly see the Jackets jumping back into those discussions.
The difference this time however would be that Marleau would have to waive his NTC to come here? Depending on how the Jackets are fairing in the standings who knows how that could play out.
New Jersey Devils - 55.056 mil
Looking over the numbers this one surprised me a bit. I know Elias and Brodeur eat up quite a bit of salary and Brian Rolston was signed to a nice deal this offseason but off the top of my head I couldn't place where all the rest of the dough was going.
Looking over their numbers its because there is a just a big group of guys in that 2 to 4 million ranges -- Gionta, Zubrus, Parise, Madden, Langenbrunner, Holik, Pandolfo, Martin, White and Salvador and all make 2.5 mil or more. Lou is certainly spreading the wealth.
Players that may get dumped:
Brian Gionta's name seems to pop up the most here. The 29 year old right wing is scheduled to make 4 mil this season and will then be a UFA. Similar to Cheechoo, Gionta had a monster season a couple of years ago scoring 48g for 89p and then signed a nice 3 year 12 million dollar deal. Since then his point totals have slipped to 45 and 53. If the Devils need to create some elbow room under the cap Gionta may be the devil domino to fall.
John Madden is really the only other guy on this roster I could see the Devils parting with. Problem with Madden is that he put up his best season last year notching 20g for 43 points. He's 35 and will be unrestricted next season.
Its hard to see the Devils parting with Madden who has been there seemingly forever but if they don't see him in their future plans because of money, age or whatever then they could opt to move him.
Is there much more of a "Hitch" type player than John Madden? Hard nosed, gives100% every night, a leader, a playoff performer, good in all 3 zones and can chip on the score sheet? This guy plays the game the right way every night. Problem is he's an ideal 3rd line checking center and we have those.
He's the kind of guy you find a place for. Gionta is an undersized winger who is feisty and has a nose for the net. Tough call on him but given the fact Howson is building a team to be big and competitive I don't think he'd make a play for Gionta even if the Jackets find their offense struggling -- he just doesn't fit the mold of the team they are trying to build.
Edmonton Oilers - 54.313 mil
Ah remember the good ole days when the Oilers were considered small market and couldn't afford to keep their star players (a.k.a Weight, Arnott, Marchant, Guerin) -- my how those days have changed. With the Canadian dollar soaring, hockey still and always the dominate sport north of the boarder and new ownership very willing to open the pocketbook the Oil have seemingly struck Oil in their payroll.
They've got 16.75 mil locked up in 3 defensemen named Visnovsky, Souray & Gilbert. They've got 15.45 mil locked up in 4 forwards named Penner, Hemsky, Cole & Horcoff. In fact Horcoff is scheduled to make 7 mil alone next season under the terms of his new contract. Times are good in Alberta. I think Lowe is happy with his roster and payroll but should the Oil stumble however who may be chopped?
Players who may get dumped:
Eric Cole is a guy whose just got traded and is slated to make 4 mil before he becomes a UFA. If he struggles to find chemistry and shows he's unhappy as an Oiler he's a guy that could easily be moved. In fact I will go out on a limb and say that I would be very surprised if Cole finished this season as an Oiler -- I just don't see a very good fit.
I know they just signed him last year but Sheldon Souray at 6.25 million this year and then 5.5, 4.5 and 4.5 the next 3 years really stands out. If the Oil struggle I would have to think Souray is a guy they'd try to move. The problem is that Souray's contract is damn near immovable.
I think there would be a lot of people who would want an Eric Cole - especially for a playoff run. With Howson's relationship with Edmonton (he's made two trades already) anything could happen. Again though Cole is a winger who needs someone to get him the puck - something we have a lot of. If injuries occur then who knows. As far a Souray -- nothing to see here -- not with that albatross contract.
Pittsburgh Penguins - 54.061
Two words: Crosby Malkin. Although the good news for Pittsburgh is that Malkin's big payday won't kick in til next season which at that point the Pens will have 18 million tied up in 2 franchise centers. For now though Crosby is the high man on the totem pole making 9 mil next season. Gonchar is at 6 mil while Fleury is at 5.
They have a couple of other d-men and a forward in Whitney, Oprik and Satan who are at 3+ and a few other players in that 2+ range. With missing out on Hossa the Pens added wingers Satan and Fedotenko and locked up Orpik. They are pretty comfortable with the salary situation especially given that they have a new stadium and all its new revenues coming next season. If they did want to trim back some salary there are a couple of options.
Players who may get dumped:
Daryl Sydor. Former Jacket Sydor is a 36 year old d-man slated to make 2.5 mil this season. He's seen his playing time decrease significantly and cap or no cap I think the Pens would love to shed this guy and his salary.
At this point he carries almost negative value on the trade market due that contract and level of play. It wouldn't surprise me if he's waived at some point but the Pens may also hold onto him for depth or try to dump him at the deadline.
Hal Gill. I actually thought he played really well in the playoffs and I don't think the Pens would move him. Still he's 33 with only 1 year left on his deal at 2.1 mil. If he struggles or a young d-man steps up for cheaper he could be trade bait.
Hitch has experience with Sydor and I know they tried to land him last offseason but he chose Pittsburgh. At this point in his career I doubt the Jackets would have much interest. Gill is a hulking shutdown d-man - again a guy we have lots of. I see both of these guys more as trade deadline additions than early season salary dumps if they get moved at all with the Jackets as unlikely destinations.
There you have it. With this group there is a lot less pressure to move anyone as they are under the cap. The pressure would come from slow starts, injuries or management rolling back their budgets. I wouldn't expect any of these teams to make any major moves to trim salary until camp or into the regular season.
Discuss - anything of interest here?