NHL Free Agents: Three NHL Teams With Cap Room and Their Needs

Mike MacDonaldCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2010

The NHL has announced that the salary cap for the 2010-11 season will be $59.4 Million dollars and that each team must spend $43.4 Million (cap floor).

It's hard to believe that 23 teams have already spent, at least, the cap floor amount of $43.4 Million dollars.

On average, each NHL team has spent roughly $48 Million dollars and have committed salary to 18 players.

Teams like Calgary, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Pittsburgh have added money to their cap situations since the free agent period began on July 1st.

While a few teams like the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks have purged some salary. The Hawks have only 12 players committed to next season at just over $50 million dollars...

There are three teams right now that have a boat load of cash available, granted that it's available on paper first as some of the NHL teams are placed on budgets from their respective owners, but in theory, they have the cash and they also have the need.

Signing free agents is a risky venture.

Look at the New York Rangers.

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They have been trying for years to re-build their team onn the fly, sort of, by signing free agents.

It's been only lately that they have decided to pull away from that notion. Until they recently signed Derek Boogaard to a 4 year deal worth 1.625 M/season this July.

I didn't score in the NHL last season either, maybe Glen and the Rangers could use me!

Meanwhile the Montreal Canadiens brought in a truck load of free agents and in the end made it to the Eastern Conference Championships behind some great team play and a stellar hot goalie.

We are not talking an exact science here...

There are a handful of teams that have some resources available to them. There are some good players still available that could help these teams.

Let's also remember that some of these teams still need to sign some of the RFA's as well.

#3 - Tampa Bay Lightning

Salary Cap: $41.3 M  Cap Space: $22.4M

Lightning have over $4M in bonus cushion

Team budget: unknown

Players signed: 14

RFA's: Steve Downie RW, Teddy Purcell RW, Nate Thompson LW and Paul Ranger D

UFA's: Stephane Veilleux LW, David Hale D and Mike Lundin D

While Martin St. Louis was given a contract extension, the Lightning under new GM Steve Yzerman have bought out winger Todd Fedorek and lost center Zenon Konopka and defenseman Kurtis Foster to free agency. Let's not forget goaltender Antero Niittymaki who signed in San Jose.

The Lightning added goalie Dan Ellis and former Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina as free agents.

This team needs to sign the RFA's which could bring them up to the cap floor limit and allow the lightning to be flexible as they move forward.

Who they could add: Alexander Frolov LW

This club really only has one left winger (Ryan Malone) and Frolov would add punch to any teams second power play unit, plus be able to play a regular shift.

#2 - New York Islanders

Salary Cap: $35.9M  Cap Space: $27.8M

Islanders have over $4M in bonus cushion

Team budget: unknown

Players signed: 16

RFA's: Matt Moulson LW, Rob Schremp C

UFA's Freddy Mayer D, Richard Park RW, Jon Sim C

The Islanders under Garth Snow have developed their younger players and they are about to take the reins of this club.

They have added two defenseman in Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina as well as added C Zenon Konopka. The Isles have eight defenseman under contract, so the possibility of a trade is there.

Goaltender Marty Biron moved across the river to the hated Rangers while Dwyane Roloson remains with Rick Dipietro.

Getting a new contract to Moulson should be the NY Isles priority.

Who they could add: The Isles need help up front. Ilya Kovalchuk is the hot rumour right now and with the cap space to accommodate him why not look at that option.

Once a high profile player like Kovalchuk signs with the Islanders (if he does at all), others could follow.

Look for help in scoring; Frolov and/or Paul Kariya

#1 - St. Louis Blues

Salary Cap: $31.5M  Cap Space: $31.0M

Blues have over $3.5M in bonus cushion

Team budget: unknown

Players signed: 13

RFA's: David Perron LW, DJ King LW, Erik Johnson D and Jaro Halak G

UFA's: Paul Kariya LW, Carlo Colaiacovo D, Darryl Sydor D and Mike Weaver D.

Retired: Keith Tkachuk RW

Ok... The Blues go out and get Halak. July 5th players can elect for salary arbitration and I'll bet that Halak does. Regardless, the Blues need to sign Halak after giving up Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

They will need David Perron's name on a long term deals as well as defenseman Erik Johnson.

After that the Blues should still be in good shape to add. They need help on the backend and that could very well be where some of the youth the Blues have steps up like Alex Pietrangelo and Tyson Strachan.

The best bet for the Blues is to find two other defenseman via free agency.

Who they could add: Look at Joe Corvo D and Willie Mitchell D. These vets could take some pressure off the youngsters while being able to play regular minutes and play on special teams (Mitchell on the PK and Corvo on the PP).

The Blues have a lot of natural centers on their roster. Another scoring winger would help balance that. Look for Marek Svatos, Owen Nolan or even Pavol Demitra to return to St. Louis in a veteran leadership role.

Would Bill Guerin return?

Other teams of note would be the Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers and Colorado Avalanche.

The Av's are committed to the youth movement that was so successful last season but still need to sign some key restricted free agents.

Under Rick Dudley, the Thrashers could very well ice a competitive team and have the flexibility to add someone else down the road.

Overall, it will be interesting to see where Kovalchuk, Frolov and others for that matter find a home as this free agency period continues.

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