Before the 2009-10 season officially ends and free agency begins, I decided to put together a team of my own under the current $56.8 million salary cap. The monetary value following each player is their 2010 salary cap hit.
For those of you not familiar with the “cap hit,” it is an average of the current contract a player is signed to. The cap hit is what is counted against each team’s salary cap, not that current season’s salary.
I went with the 2010 salary cap hit for each player. I obviously could not go with the 2011 cap hit, because some players do not yet have a home for the 2011 season.
Some of you may have already realized it, but I put a few players still in their rookie contracts on my team—this lowers the overall cap hit. I wasn’t trying to cheat and get as many quality rookies on my team for the lowest price, but then again, it’s my team. Deal with it.
It’s much easier to put a team together when dealing with just a single year, as opposed to the lifetime of a contract; I will acknowledge that.
I used $53.148 million of a possible $56.8 million on my team and attempted to balance the team in a somewhat realistic manner—I don’t have Sidney Crosby playing on my fourth line.
Without any further ado, here is the team I would put together with the current salary cap in place.
Jonathan Toews (Captain)—C—$2.800 million
Headlining this first line is Chicago Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews. His leadership and ability to step up in big situations would easily make Toews the captain on my team.
But the 22-year-old’s best attribute is his ability to win the draw. His faceoff percentage was 57.4 percent this season.
Henrik Zetterberg—LW—$6.083 million
Henrik Zetterberg earned his lengthy contract with the Detroit Red Wings by becoming one of the league’s premier left-wingers.
Zetterberg is a hard skater and a crafty puck handler, both reasons why he was fourth in the league in shots this past season with 309.
Corey Perry—RW—$5.325 million
Perry brings a different dynamic to my first line.
Forget that Perry has had at least 27 goals in each of his last three seasons; the right-winger has also put up over 300 penalty minutes in that time, proving that he can get physical if he needs to.
My first line combined for 75 goals and 214 points in their most recent campaign, and as soon as the Blackhawks completed their championship run, all three players had a Stanley Cup on their resume.
Steven Stamkos—C—$3.725 million
Stamkos’ rookie season was a mild disappointment, at least as far as No. 1 picks go. But Stamkos, 20, had the exact opposite of a sophomore slump.
In his second season in the league, Stamkos finished tied for the NHL lead in goals (51) with Crosby and led the league in power play goals with 24. His incredible slap shot makes him a constant threat on the ice.
Tomas Holmstrom—LW—$2.250 million
Stamkos’ slap shot is bad enough with nobody in front of the goalie, but with Holmstrom reeking havoc in front of the net, this line is all the more lethal.
While Holmstrom has never reach the 60-point plateau in his career, he did have 25 goals in just 68 games this past season. He also tied a career-high with 13 power play goals.
Also, Holmstrom’s age makes him the type of veteran my team needs. Not to mention he has won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.
Bobby Ryan—RW—$1.922 million
Goals really won’t be hard to come by with my second line. Ryan has combined for 66 goals in the last two seasons.
Like his two line mates, Ryan is also a huge threat on the power play. He has had at least 11 power play goals in the last two seasons.
My second line—and first power play unit—obviously has no problem scoring goals, which can be attributed to their combined 686 shots on goal in the regular season.
Ryan Kesler (Alternate Captain)—C—$1.750 million
Kesler had 25 goals and 75 points this season with the Vancouver Canucks, but that’s not why I’d want him on my team.
The 25-year-old Kesler played all 82 games, won 55.1 percent of his draws, had 95 hits and 73 blocked shots, and was second in the league with 83 takeaways. His defensive efforts earned him his second Selke Trophy nomination as the league’s best defensive forward, and also made him one of my alternate captains.
Alexandre Burrows—LW—$2.000 million
Burrows is another forward with a knack for fantastic defensive timing and poise. He finished 10th in the league with 68 takeaways.
The 29-year-old Canuck was an excellent penalty killer. His five shorthanded goals were tied for the league lead with Marian Hossa.
Burrows finished with 35 goals and 67 points in total.
Ryan Callahan—RW—$2.300 million
37 points in 77 games isn’t too shabby, especially with 204 shots on goal to back it up, but the theme with my third line is defense and effort—two things that run hand-in-hand with Callahan.
Callahan’s minus-12 rating is nothing to be concerned about given his team and line mates. Playing with Kesler and Burrows should make things a lot easier for the 25 year old to do what he does best: hit with extreme force.
Callahan finished third in the league with 285 hits this season.
This line was assembled for its unbelievable defensive qualities. If 10 goals were scored against this line the whole season, it would be too many.
Kesler has emerged as one of the league’s most complete forwards, and with two talented wingers, he would be unstoppable.
Maxim Lapierre—C—$0.663 million
Decent in the face off circle, 14 points not bad for a fourth-liner, but his 164 hits is why he is centering this line.
Daniel Carcillo—LW—$0.843 million
Carcillo is one of the league’s top heavyweights and the closest thing there will ever be to a “Broad Street Bully.”
22 points isn’t bad for a guy who finished with 207 PIMs, 194 hits, and 17 fighting majors.
Patrick Kaleta—RW—$0.514 million
Kaleta is one of the hardest hitters in the league. His 148 hits might not be among the leaders, but the force that he uses is certainly among the best.
But Kaleta is better known as the NHL’s best agitator. He has led the league in penalties drawn per 60 minutes for each of the last three seasons.
Brent Seabrook—$3.500 million
Seabrook had four goals and 30 points this past season, which is pretty good for a defensive defenseman—as opposed to someone like Mike Green who is basically a fourth forward.
But as mentioned, it is Seabrook’s defensive qualities that make him one of the league’s best. He finished the season with 153 blocked shots and 208 hits.
Chris Pronger (Alternate Captain)—$6.250 million
Seabrook is an important part of the first defensive pairing because his “stay at home” mentality allows for Pronger to take a few more risks, something he couldn’t always do with the Philadelphia Flyers this season.
Despite being slightly more patient this season than in the past, Pronger still put up 10 goals and 55 points.
Pronger is also another veteran who has been able to raise the Stanley Cup.
Stephane Robidas (Alternate Captain)—$1.500 million
Robidas’ 41 points is not the reason he is an alternate captain on my team. His 177 blocked shots and remarkable 269 hits make him one of the league’s most complete blue-liners.
The 33-year-old also played in all 82 games this season.
Hal Gill—$2.250 million
You know what Hal Gill does best? He blocks shots. But I also like him on my second defensive line because he blocks shots. But most of all, I like the fact that he blocks shots.
Am I getting through to most of you?
Forget the 11 points in 68 games; Gill also blocked 150 shots in that span. His humongous 6’7”, 250-pound frame makes blocking shots pretty easy.
Andy Greene—$0.738 million
Greene had a breakout year in his fourth season with the New Jersey Devils. In 78 games he finished with six goals and 37 points. He also finished with 155 blocked shots.
Does anyone see the type of defenseman I am going for here?
After years of struggling with the Toronto Maple Leafs Colaiacovo has exploded with the St. Louis Blues.
Colaiacovo had seven goals, 32 points, and a plus eight rating in just 67 games with the Blues this season.
Tomas Vokoun—$5.700 million
Vokoun is an incredible goalie. He is consistent and would more than likely have a couple of Vezina Trophies to his name if he hadn’t been playing on such porous defensive teams for most of his career.
Despite being just one game over .500 in his career, Vokoun has posted a .916 save percentage on almost 17,000 shots against.
The 33-year-old just led the Czech Republic to first place at the World Championships and with the shot-blockers in front of him on my team, he might lose 10 games all season.
Dan Ellis—$1.750 million
If Vokoun were to play 60 games, then a capable “backup” would have to play the other 22—Ellis is more than capable of doing so.
Ellis has not started more than 37 games in any of his three seasons, yet he has been magnificent in goal for the Nashville Predators even with his sporadic starts.
Ellis is easily the best “backup” in the league.
The first two lines are where I’d expect most of the offense to come from on this team.
While the third line has three quality offensive players, it is there defensive abilities I am more concerned with.
The defensive core has a couple of big names. Pronger would provide much of the offense from the blue line, but again, I would be more concerned about defense first.
Please tell me the team you would put together within the restrictions of the $56.8 million salary cap.