Saturday, February 03, 2007

Next Year's NW Division

Lowetide was looking towards next season with a piece he posted earlier today largely regarding which cheap players Edmonton will have next season that can outperform their salary level and presumably help lead Edmonton back to the Cup finals.

In that vein, here's a quick look at the cap status of the NW division teams and how one can preliminarily project those teams for next season.

* Cap numbers are taken from this site *

(all numbers listed will be haphazardly rounded/estimated to the nearest 0.25 mil), Cap limit for 07/8 estimated at 47 mil for no particular reason.

Minnesota:

06/7 spending - 39.5 mil
cap value - 42.75 mil

raises on existing contracts for next season - 3.75 mil
Projected raises to RFA's (Bouchard, Booguard, Schultz, Foster, Koivu, Weinhandl) - 2.25 mil


UFA's (6 - White, Walz, Dupuis, Smith, Skoula, Backstrom) - 6.5 mil

If MIN spends 6.5 mil replacing the leaving UFA's their team would be spending roughly 46.5 mil on salaries while charged a cap value of 45 mil, probabaly reasonably estimates given what we've heard about MIN's ability to generate revenue. They haven't historically spent a lot of money, but they are spending almost 40 this year and jumping to 45 or so wouldn't be a crazy stretch if their revenues aren't understated and if the owners think it will pay off.

There isn't much reason to think MIN will take a step backwards next season, and although Gaborik's health is a worry he'll probably be able to play more next season even if he still misses 15 games with another groin pull. They've got players like Koivu and Bouchard apparently still progressing, so expecting MIN to be at least as good next season probably isn't unreasonable.

Vancouver:

06/7 spending - 42.25 mil
cap value - 43.25 mil

raises on existing contracts for next season - 0.5 mil
Projected raises to RFA's (Krajicek, Kesler) - 0 mil


UFA's (9 - Bulis, Pyatt, Linden, Green, Santala, Cowan, Salo, Sabourin, Fitzpatrick) - 6.5 mil

It kind of depends what VAN feels like spending as to whether or not they can be projected better or worse next year. If they decide to spend 10 mil replacing the 9 players they lose I think they'll have a tough time doing as good as they have this year on the same cost. Actually, I'm not sure how important that really is, because given the rise in expected UFA price this summer it's going to be hard for any team to equivalently replace any players via the UFA market, even if the players they are replacing were originally signed as UFA's themselves. But that aside most of these VAN UFA's are interchangeable fodder that they probably can replace effectively on the UFA market or with internal replacement. The exceptions will be pricey though, in Pyatt and Salo. If VAN replaces 5 of these players with players close to the league min that would leave them ~7 mil to fill the other 4 spots. It'll probably cost ~3-4 mil to replace Salo, leaving them 3-4 mil to spend on 3 players, probably one of which would be a backup goalie at ~1 mil a year.

Colorado:

06/7 spending - 43 mil
cap value - 43.75 mil

raises on existing contracts for next season - 1.5 mil (including 0.8 mil raise to Brunette which will also be a cap increase)
Projected raises to RFA's (Svatos, Vaananen, Leopold, Sauer) - 0.75 mil


UFA's (8 - Turgeon, Sakic, Klee, Brisebois, McLean, May, Laaksonen, Arnason) - 14.0 mil
Other ( Sakic and Blake's options, Konowalchuk retiring) - 6.5 mil

The Avalanche have a bunch of awful money coming off the books. 6.5 mil spent on nothing in the two options and Konowalchuk retiring in preseason. Sakic will probably re-sign for something near his current salary though surely he'll start to decline at some point, right? Hurry that up, will you Joe, as long as you want to play for COL.

COL is a team I would expect to improve next year provided Sakic's regression doesn't happen next year and provided their 2 rookies don't suffer through sophomore slumps, given how much money it looks like they'll have to spend and that they should have Leopold. Then again more should be expected out of Hejduk than we've seen since the lockout. Theodore is locked in way above what he's worth, but Budaj is underpaid for two more years to partially balance that off.

They don't have much underpaid offence leaving as UFA's (I'm assuming Sakic to be an easy sign for COL) and can probably afford to add at least one F to play in their top 6 or 9, and one D in their top 4, when you factor in their 6.5 mil spent on nothing as well as the cap increasing.

Calgary:

06/7 spending - 42.25 mil
cap value - 42.5 mil

raises on existing contracts for next season - 1.5 mil (including a 1.25 mil cap increase on Conroy's contract relative to CAL's cap charge for Conroy + Lundmark this season)
Projected raises to RFA's (Lombardi, Giordano) - 0.75 mil


UFA's (7 - Amonte, McCarty, Friesen, Nilson, Ritchie, Hamrlik, McLennan) - 8 mil

Nice position for Calgary to be in this summer, pretty easy summer by the looks of it for Sutter. They should be able to re-sign Hamrlik or an equivalent for at most a mil more than he's currently making, given their revevnues they should be able to spend to the cap, and they've got some deadweight contracts coming off the books as well so they can presumably add another scoring forward to their roster and replace McCarty, Friesen and Nilson either on the UFA market or internally for less money. Enough to make a guy sick.

Hopefully this madness will end the summer after with their crazy UFA season (Regehr, Iginla, Kiprusoff, Langkow, Yelle, Huselius, Conroy and Zyuzin, along with RFA's Kobasew and Phaneuf), but it's still better to be in CAL's position where you have to make tough choices than it is to be in the position of some other teams, money to spend on UFA's but can you convince them to come to your city?

Edmonton:

06/7 spending - 39 mil
cap value - 39.75 mil

raises on existing contracts for next season - 2.25 mil (including 2.25 mil cap and payroll increases from Staios and Moreau's extensions)
Projected raises to RFA's (Torres, Winchester, Greene) - 0.75 mil


UFA's (7 - Sykora, Smyth, Nedved, Petersen, Tjarnqvist, Hejda, Markkanen) - 10.25 mil

Not looking pretty in terms of UFA replacement for the Oilers this summer. Pretty unlikely they'll get the same amount of production via whatever guys they sign in place of Smyth/Sykora for 6.5 mil, the team's two leading scorers. There isn't much mispent money there either. Replacing Markkanen won't save much/any if they get a guy with his experience, and even going with a kid won't be much cheaper given how high Deslauriers and Dubnyk went in the draft. Not much reason to think they can replace Hejda or Tjarqvist for less than they currently cost, Peterson (if replaced by a guy from the farm) is probabaly cheaper than his replacement. Nedved isn't doing much, but any body wouldn't be much cheaper. If Smyth gets signed for 5 that leaves 5.25 to spend among 6 guys that will probably be worse than the guys they currently have if they get them from the UFA market, and if they get them internally who looks like they can match Sykora's production? Where's the money to upgrade the D - I guess it's coming from Sykora's salary but Sykora's salary is already going to Moreau and Staios so let's hope the budget is going up.

As LT mentioned having guys who outperform their contracts is the key to having a good team, and where will the candidates be on the Oilers. Smyth will cost 1.5 mil more next year and likely produce less, Moreau and Staios will cost an extra 2.25 mil, Lupul goes up a mil while Roloson goes down 1 mil. The rest of this year isn't looking so hot right now, but things aren't looking great next year for the Oilers either.


******************

I understand that you've got to fight the good fight for your fans and their perceptions, never giving up, providing your fans with hope, keeping your season ticket holders, etc. But even this brief glance at next year makes me wonder when the relief in difficult scheduling is coming for the Oilers in this division. Can one make a case that EDM's chances look better for the playoffs next year? Who is to say this early, it's tough enough to evaluate teams in October having seen the signings and preseason, so only a fool would do it now before we see any UFA signings/trade/budget announcements,etc. But is it crazy to speculate at this point that EDM will probably be the worst team in the division next season?

If that's the case, can selling, in addition to all UFA's at the deadline (should EDM be out of it), Smith be considered SUCH a bad idea if the price is high enough?

11 Comments:

Blogger SweatyO said...

Of the Oilers UFA's, the only guys they probably even look at bringing back are Smyth, Hejda and Markkannen, and I'd like to see extensions for the first two done in the next 23 days. Jussi's a more interesting case; I think they'd like to have him back if they could, but how much is he going to look for?

Now, a lot of what the Oilers are going to be capable of depends on how Lowe handles the defense situation. He either needs to make a deal for a non-rental d-man where the salary gain beyond this year is minimal (example: package deal for Pitkanen featuring Lupul), OR he will need to dump salary in order to pursure a UFA d-man (sticking with a theme, deal Lupul for a 1st rounder plus something, maybe in a move up to the top-ten, then give Lupul's money to a UFA like Timmonen this summer).

Really, it depends on where the EIG sets the payroll next year. If the cap goes to 47 million, I'll be very upset if they don't go to at least 43 million for the START of the season, and I'd like to see 44 million. If they don't increase player spending and look to stay at 40 million, I'll be writing a letter to Cal Nichols telling him how I'm disgusted I am.

Ideally, they start next season like this:

Smyth Horcoff Hemsky
Torres Stoll Pisani
Moreau Reasoner Thoresen
Jacques Pouliot [veteran UFA]
EXT: Brodziak, Stortini

[Pitkanen or Timmonen] Smith
Staios Hejda
Greene Smid
EXT: Gilbert

Roloson
[Markkannen or Deslauriers]

They're not going to be as deep at forward, because they will need to give up a quality guy (I really hope they can keep Raffi and use Lupul as a chip here) to either clear salary OR acquire that d-man through trade.

I've assumed they will let Nedved, Sykora, Tjarnqvist and Petersen (fingers crossed) walk this summer, and I'm also assuming that Lupul, Winchester and Bergeron are going to get dealt at some point (Lupul for reasons mentioned above, Bergeron because there aren't enough soft minutes to satisfy him with Greene/Smid here and Gilbert on the cusp, and Winchester because Jacques is coming, Stortini can play the enforcer role better, and the fact he's got some Isbister-esque trade value aura around him based on his size and play during the Detroit series last year....just watch, when this guy gets dealt in the next few weeks, we're all going to say "wow, he had THAT much value?")

Two guys I left out were Mikhnov and Schremp. Mostly because IF the Oilers climb back into the race, I see them as prime prospect candidates to be dealt for rental players.

2/04/2007 9:31 am  
Blogger joninabox said...

While the picture being painted by the contracts suggests we're going to be paying more and getting less next year, how much more effective as whole do you think the Oilers would be if we acquired a decent first pairing D-man? I think that the contributions of any defensemen like that and his subsequent ripple effect might actually offset some of that difference. Basically, our 2nd and 3rd line players would start showing some of the input we thought we were paying for this year, either via not spending as much time being hemmed in our own zone or by actually being able to get some decent chances off the rush. As an example, Lupul is a player who I think could spot us quite a few more goals if we had a better defense backing him. Right now we have MacT trying to get him to commit to defense and learn a whole new aspect to his game, but on the other hand he spends half his time on the ice with a defensive pairing that's trying to do the same thing. How can we really expect him and others (the same would go for the defense I suppose) to perform to their strengths when there are so many other uncontrolled factors out on the ice? If Lupul was playing for the Devils (143 GF, Oilers 147 GF) would he be putting up better numbers? Even if there was some way to compensate for quality of linemates, I'd wager that he probably would be on pace for more than 22 goals. By the way, just thought I'd mention also that Parise has scored 26 ES points this year, second on his team only to Elias' 27, and his linemates are a rookie and a 2-way forward in Zajac and Langenbrunner. Just a thought. :)

2/04/2007 11:41 am  
Blogger Lowetide said...

This is terrific stuff speeds. I think it looks a little better than that depending upon how they roll out this summer.

If they sign Ryan Smyth (let's say a 5.25 cap hit) and replace Sykora with Schremp (not my choice but the obvious one) the forwards stack up like this:

C- Horcoff (3.6), Stoll (2.2), Reasoner (.950), Schremp (.860)
LW- Smyth(5.25EST), Torres (1.5EST), Moreau (1.75), Thoresen (.543)
RW- Hemsky (3.6), Pisani (2.5), Lupul (2.535), Pouliot (.942)
Extras- Petersen (.500EST), Brodziak (.500EST)

D- Staois (2.9), Smith (1.976), Hejda (1.2EST), Greene (1.1EST), Bergeron (1.045), Gilbert (.730)Smid (.721)

G- Roloson (3.5), Deslauriers (.500EST)

We're at about 41M total. Trade either Ken Hodge (Lupul) or Wayne Cashman (Torres) for a puck mover and insert one of Jacques (for Torres) or Stortini (for Lupul) onto the depth chart.

One thing we really need to do moving forward is to look at what kind of impact Stortini is having. MacTavish is playing him like he's not headed to the farm anytime soon and his ATOI is growing:

1. 3:10
2. 3:33
3. 5:34
4. 5:24
5. 6:15

Stortini may make that 4line RW spot and keep it, meaning Pouliot or Schremp could be in the AHL again next season.

One thing that irritates hell out of me is that even though the rookie defensemen are getting all kinds of time to establish themselves we're still left with a plethora of prospects and none have been given 500 ab's (although in fairness Thoresen stole them).

Still, this looks exactly like Houston Astros when they had John Mayberry, Cliff Johnson and Bob Watson going yard in the minors and then flash forward a few years and punch and judy Art freaking Howe is playing 1b for the 'stros.

That was bad planning, and this F cluster not getting ab's is similar at least right now.

2/04/2007 12:05 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

Great stuff Speeds, though I have to disagree on the raises for Lombardi and Torres - I expect both of them to cash in a bit here. They both have arbitration rights, and they're making .800K and .875K on the cap respectively this season, and while I could see Raffi being signed for one year - there's no way in hell Sutter is dumb enough to only sign Lombardi for 1 year and have ANOTHER headache in 08.

That said; there's a big factor that you're not including in the Oilers perspectives for next season, and that's whether or not EIG decides to try and fuck us again or not. The Oilers SHOULD be able to spend $8,000,000 more on the cap than they have (thus far) this season. There's no reason this team can't spend to the cap, so assuming we use that ability (and really, with guys like Lou Lam around and no real certainty in the Canadian Dollar - just how long will this window last?) that we have we should be able to over come it.

Guys who can outperform their contract next season include Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll, Torres, Hejda, Greene, Smid and Roloson - the list really isn't THAT bleak is it? I mean, next season we could actually have a relatively serviceable defense if either of the rooks from this year can have light bulb flick on over their head.

The Oilers should be working very hard right now to make two specific signings. While the Smyth signing is getting a lot of press, I think it's equally important to sign Hejda to a reasonable deal ASAP. Throw $4,000,000 over 3 years at him and hope like hell he signs it. Just shock him with some big money that he's never seen before in his life and watch him be a very serviceable top 4 guy... that's one contract that the Oilers could greatly benefit from and one that they SHOULD be able to get together, is it not?

2/04/2007 3:03 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

Agreed, personally I think EDM should lock up Hejda, and probably Tjarnqvist to a 2 year deal if the coaches like what they've seen from Tjarnqvist in the time they've seen him. Tjarnqvist likely hasn't played enough to pump his value up, so if EDM still likes him they might be able to find a deal on Tjarnqvist on a 2 or 3 year deal.

After that I'd probably move Greene,unless I moved Smith at the deadline (hey, if the return's high enough and Edmonton's out of it, and the budget's going up 5+ mil next year, maybe that's a wise move to dump Smith's 2 mil and tack on 2 mil more for a different guy? Would leave you with UFA/Staios/Tjarn/Hejda/Smid/Greene? Or does that D still need another top 4 guy?). I know Greene is young and has upside, but he's also a UFA in 3 years, so if you can get Tjarnqvist tied up for 3 years at "under market value", what's the difference?

2/04/2007 10:20 pm  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Excellent post Speeds!

My question is this:

The market for player values does still appear to be inflationary based on last off-season's prices for defense. Even if some type of player other than puckmoving d-man becomes the new vogue in a later off-season, all those expensive '06 contracts don't exactly shrink back to proportionate levels.

OK so there's no question yet...

I will add a second assumption. The cap will rise but do so at a slower pace as time goes on. Combine this with inflation in contracts and cap space as a singular asset may not be as significant as I had once hoped.

Feel free to disagree with any of my assumptions but they lead me to Question time:

Heading into the '07 off-season, would you rather have an above average team close to the cap (eg Minnesota) or a mediocre team with money coming off the books (eg Colorado)?

I understand there are many factors at play, from my arbitrary designations of "above average" and "mediocre" to actual dollars and budget lines to team needs vs. off-season availability. If anyone wants to venture their opinions, maybe it would be good to explain any of your own assumptions in these regards.

2/05/2007 1:40 pm  
Blogger speeds said...

In this case I would rather be COL (especially so if their owners are rich enough to spend to the cap AND leave Theodore in the minors - where they'd have to pay him, but he wouldn't count against the cap giving them 5+ in cap room to reallocate on another goalie and beefing up the lineup elsewhere), but in general I think it's kind of a tough question for just the reasons you give - there are too many variables.

But here's another question that I think is worth asking:

How good (bad) would you expect a team to be if it were constructed this offseason only with UFA's?

2/05/2007 4:54 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

speeds said...

How good (bad) would you expect a team to be if it were constructed this offseason only with UFA's?


You never know, but my guess would be hilariously thin. Basically, the top end talent gets market setting deals everytime and therefore you're paying a premium for the talent a year or so ahead of everyone else. Of course if due diligence is done and you get a little lucky, the top end talent is often pretty much worth it.

Also, I don't think we've seen more than 2-3 value buys in a UFA season, so I'm not sure how said team would fill out their roster. Mind you, this year could be different because I think this UFA class is inordinately large.

2/06/2007 9:40 am  
Blogger speeds said...

It's easy to get caught in the trap of thinking you could just cherry pick good deals, but on the other hand by having to fill you roster that way you'd probably have all of Bulis, Perrault, Dvorak, guys of that ilk that to be honest are probably better deals than a lot of players teams have on their 3rd/4th lines at similar money.

I mean, in retrospect, it's tough to say that EDM made the wise move in letting Dvorak go to allocate that money for Mikhnov, as an example.

2/06/2007 1:17 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Great post Mike. I certainly don't mean to gloss over this with such a passing comment but the first obvious answer to all these worries would be for the EIG to increase the payroll. Sounds simple enough, right?

2/06/2007 2:39 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

That's true speeds. Dvorak would have been a lot better than Mikhnov. I really doubt Perreault's any good even for the money. I like Bulis too and I said so in the offseason.

I think my point though was that I think you'd be filling your 2nd/3rd lines with those guys if you built the whole team through UFA. The high end UFAs are just too much money and you need a couple.

2/06/2007 3:17 pm  

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