Salary Cap Outlook – The Central Division

Salary Cap Outlook – The Central Division

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Continuing on from where we left off on Thursday with the Metropolitan Division, it’s now time to take a look at the cap situations of the Western Conference teams, starting today with the Central Division.

*All figures according to CapGeek.com, with the Salary Cap being $69 million*

*2015-16 cap space does not include current unsigned RFA’s*

Part 3: Western Conference – Central Division 

Chicago Blackhawks 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 23 (14 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $71,216,795
Overages: $60,000
Cap Space: -$2,216,795
RFA’s Remaining: None
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Blackhawks are in a very familiar position for this time of year, over the salary cap maximum. With no RFA’s remaining and 23 players onboard for next season, the current group is basically what you will see on the ice once October comes along. Being just over $2 million over the cap obviously means that a few moves have to be made, but that shouldn’t be a problem for GM Stan Bowman; it never has been before.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 15 (10 forwards, 3 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $65,757,628
Cap Space: $3,242,372
RFA’s: Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy, David Rundblad UFA’s: Brad Richards, Peter Regin, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: This is where the real test begins for Bowman. Next offseason is when Patrick Kane’s and Jonathan Toew’s new deals (which each have a cap hit of $10.5 million per season) kick in. Having young, key pieces in Kruger, Saad, and Leddy up for RFA, and a pay-raise with only $3.2 million to spend, clearly a trade or two has to happen. That something could come in the form of trading away one or two of Bryan Bickell ($4 million cap hit), Marian Hossa ($5.27 million cap hit), Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million cap hit), Niklas Hjalmarsson ($4.1 million cap hit), or Brent Seabrook ($5.8 million cap hit). All of those players play important roles in the Chicago system, but we’ve seen Bowman make the sacrifice before, trading solid players in Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, and Dustin Byfuglien in 2010, to keep the core together.

Colorado Avalanche 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 25 (14 forwards, 9 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $66,155,262
Overages: None
Cap Space: $2,844,738
RFA’s Remaining: Tyson Barrie
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: With the signing of RFA Ryan O’Reilly for two-years, $12 million, the Avalanche now turn their attention to defenseman Tyson Barrie, who remains unsigned. Barrie is a very good offensive-defenseman who put up 13 goals and 38 points in 64 games last season at the age of 22. Colorado is hoping to sign him to a bridge contract, but, clearly Barrie is looking for something a little more valuable, or else this would have been resolved already. Can Colorado lock him up for less than $2.8 million and stay below the cap? We’ll find out soon enough.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 19 (12 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $51,354,762 Cap Space: $17,645,238 RFA’s: Stefan Elliot
UFA’s: Daniel Briere, Cody McLeod, Brad Stuart, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Colorado is in fine financial standings heading into next offseason. With just under $18 million to spend, and only two or three roster spots to fill, they could be players on the free agent market, looking for an upgrade on defense.

Dallas Stars 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 20 (13 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $63,633,333
Overages: None
Cap Space: $5,366,667
RFA’s Remaining: Cody Eakin, Brendan Dillon
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Both Eakin and Dillon are solid young players that Dallas’ GM Jim Nill is working hard to get under contract. Once they are signed (which will likely cost most of, if not all of the $5.3 million in cap space), the Stars’ will have a nearly full roster. The only exception is that Dallas will have six defensemen, and might want to add another, let it be from the farm team or another free agent signing. A few of us here at myNHLtraderumors.com believe Dallas would be a good fit for free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto; food for thought.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 13 (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, 1 goalie)
Cap Payroll: $36,808,333
Cap Space: $32,191,667
RFA’s: Jack Campbell, Jaime Oleksiak
UFA’s: Jason Spezza, Shawn Horcoff, Erik Cole, Rich Peverley, Patrick Eaves, Sergei Gonchar, Anders Lindback
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Oh man, as a fan of the NHL, am I ever excited to see what the Stars do next offseason. With the core players still under contract, and just over $32 million to spend on roughly seven players (with the other three spots going to AHL players), the “stars” have aligned for perfectly for Dallas. Re-signing Spezza, Campbell, and Oleksiak will likely be a priority. Spezza won’t come cheap, likely around the $7 million mark he currently makes, but both Campbell and Oleksiak will. So, let’s think. Say Spezza, Campbell, and Oleksiak get around $10 million combined, that leaves a little over $22 million to fill out only a few more spots. Look for Dallas to acquire one or two top class free agents. Bobby Ryan, Christian Ehrhoff, or Mike Green anyone?

Minnesota Wild 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 22 (13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $58,300,506
Overages: $700,000
Cap Space: $10,699,494
RFA’s Remaining: Nino Niederreiter, Justin Fontaine, Darcy Kuemper
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Wild have an almost full roster, who much like the other teams in this division, are done making moves, except for signing their own RFA’s. Neiderreiter, Fontaine and Kuemper will all be retained, likely for around $5 million combined. Once signed, Kuemper will likely end up in the AHL because of the logjam inside the Wild’s crease with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding (if healthy) already under contract.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 10 (7 forwards, 2 defensemen, 1 goalie)
Cap Payroll: $44,010,506
Cap Space: $24,989,494
RFA’s: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Grandlund, Erik Haula, Cody Almond, Marco Scandella, Christian Folin, Jonas Brodin, Jonathan Blum
UFA’s: Kyle Brodziak, Stephane Veilleux, Keith Ballard, Josh Harding
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Unfortunately for the Wild, most of their youthful talent’s contracts are up next offseason. It will certainly take a fair chunk of money to sign Coyle, Grandlund, Haula, Scandella and Brodin, especially if they all improve (as expected) this season. With a shade under $25 million to work with, GM Chuck Fletcher shouldn’t have a problem retaining his young talent, as well as Harding, but there might not be a whole lot of room left for adding impact players.

Nashville Predators 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 23 (15 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $57,112,143
Overages: None
Cap Space: $11,887,857
RFA’s Remaining: Ryan Ellis
Players on LTIR: Mike Fisher (if needed)

Overview: After what I would deem a successfully offseason (acquiring three offensive centres in Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, and Derek Roy for a combined $4.55 million, as well as trading for James Neal) the Predators line-up is pretty much set. Ryan Ellis should be re-signed relatively inexpensively (around $1 million) and will join the defense core as a third pairing, power-play specialist. Once he is brought back, the Preds’ will still have close to $11 million in cap space so there is little need to put Mike Fisher on LTIR.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 13 (6 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $37,705,476
Cap Space: $31,294,524 RFA’s: Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Gabriel Bourque, Calle Jarnkrok
UFA’s: Mike Fisher, Matt Cullen, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Anton Volchenkov
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: If you include Wilson, Jarnkrok, and Smith as centres, which CapGeek.com does, then that is eight potentially centres that are coming off of Nashville’s books next season. Granted, the RFA’s are likely to be retained, but the UFA’s are far less of a sure thing. Should Ribeiro and Roy have bounce-back seasons, they will be looking for much more than the $1 million deals they signed this year. Nashville has never been a team to operate at the cap maximum, but with $31 million to spend, they won’t need to be either.

St. Louis Blues 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 23 (13 forwards, 8 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $66,216,667
Overages: $700,000
Cap Space: $2,783,333
RFA’s Remaining: Jaden Schwartz
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Signing RFA Jaden Schwartz remains as the last piece to the puzzle for the Blues this offseason. Having scored 25 goals, along with 56 points last season, Schwartz is deserving of almost all of the $2.78 million the Blues have left in cap space. I expect him to be back, for around that price, on a bridge type contract.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 13 (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, 1 goalie) Cap Payroll: $53,250,000 Cap Space: $15,750,000 RFA’s: Magnus Paajarvi, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ian Cole, Jake Allen UFA’s: Maxim Lapierre, Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Porter, Barret Jackman, Jordan Leopold, Chris Butler Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Next offseason when Tarasenko becomes a RFA, St. Louis will find themselves in a very similar situation as with Schwartz this year. If he continues to improve this season (which shouldn’t be a problem alongside Stastny and Schwartz), Tarasenko will be looking for a long-term deal, while St. Louis will likely have to counter with a bridge deal worth between $2.5 – $3 million. Other than Tarasenko, bringing back Allen, Paajarvi, and Cole will likely be a priority for the Blues. With $15.75 million to spend, locking up their RFA’s will be accomplished, while the other roster spots go to vets off the free agent market, or young players such as Ty Rattie from the AHL.

Winnipeg Jets 2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 20 (11 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $55,417,024
Overages: None
Cap Space: $13,582,976
RFA’s Remaining: Michael Frolik
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Jets have plenty of cap space to bring back RFA Michael Frolik, who was solid last season, scoring 15 goals and 42 points. Coming off a three-year, $7 million deal, you can bet Frolik would at least like to match that contract, if not improve upon it. With nothing else really in the mix for the Jets (other than the constant trade talk of Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien), it’s safe to assume that what you see is what you are going to get this year in Winnipeg.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 15 (8 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $51,167,024
Cap Space: $17,832,976
RFA’s: Eric Tangradi, Anthony Peluso, Paul Potsma
UFA’s: Jim Slater, Adam Pardy
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Virtually no one of importance to the Jets becomes a free agent next season. The nearly $18 million in cap space could be used to lure in a big fish, if someone is willing to join a team like Winnipeg. More likely, the majority of the cap space will go unused, with the Jets simply adding a few smaller pieces here and there.

Last up will be an in-depth look into the NHL’s Western Conference Pacific Division!

Salary Cap Outlooks for the Atlantic | Metropolitan | Central | Pacific