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
(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?