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In The GM’s Chair: Managing The Cap Pt 2


A couple of weeks ago I outlined a blueprint for NHL GM’s to follow as to how they should allocate their Salary Cap space efficiently and effectively.  This week I will look at the current situation in Ottawa and determine what if any problems are present on the Senators roster.  For argument’s sake I will use a cap of $60 million (although the cap may be slightly higher next year).


The top line players get top line money.  My blueprint allocates about $4.8 million to  first line wingers and $7.2 million to the first line centre.  Currently, Jason Spezza carries a cap hit of $7.0 M, so he is in the ballpark.  Daniel Alfredsson ($4.875) and Milan Michalek ($4.33) both carry hits that fit into the structure, althought it can be argued whether or not either is really a first line player.  Alfredsson is the example of a player probably making more than his performance on the ice but given his impact on the team, he gets a bye.


Whoever fills the second line centre role, whether it is Peter Regin ($1 M), Stephane DaCosta (900K + Bonuses), Ryan Shannon (currently UFA) or whoever Ottawa gets with the 1st rd pick this June, will definitely fall in under the $4.8 million allocated to the position.  Likewise, the wingers in whatever form they take (Regin, Shannon, Bobby Butler, DaCosta, Nick Foligno, Colin Greening) will also fall under the $3 million allocation (DaCosta’s bonuses might impact that number slightly).  The way it looks right now, there will be significant savings on the second line, giving room for growth as the young players move into second contracts.


I have a third line of Chris Neil, Zack Smith and Nick Foligno pencilled into my depth chart.  Smith will get a raise from his league minimum as an RFA, but won’t garner more than the $1.8 million I have allotted to the position.  Neil is overpaid for a third liner in my scenario, as his $2 M  is almost double the $1.2 M in my setup. Foligno is a wildcard as he could fit in anywhere on the top 3 lines.  His $1.2 M cap hit is right in line with what a third line winger should be making however.


As for the fourth line, Jesse Winchester has developed into an ideal centre for that spot, as is his $750K cap hit.  The wingers will be guys that are at or close to the league minimum, like Eric Condra & Greening.


This is where the Senators might be handcuffed this coming season.  They currently have 6 defensemen signed, (Gonchar, Phillips, Kuba, Lee, Carkner & Karlsson) with anticipation that David Runblad and Jared Cowen will both make the team.  That leaves a glut of defensemen, including a couple with rookie bonuses to take into account.  Ideally I would like to see a 1st pair of  Gonchar – Karlsson. 2nd pair of Phillips – Cowen and a third pair of Runblad – Carkner.  This would work out financially as well as the first pair would cost about $6.5 million (my budget – $9 M), the second pair would come in at $4 M plus any bonuses for Cowen (my budget – $6 M)  and the third pair at about $1.6 plus any Runblad bonuses (my budget – $1.8 M).  That leaves Kuba and his massive $3.7 M on the sidelines as well as Lee ($875 K).  I am on the record as stating that Kuba should be bought out when the league’s window to do so opens.  It would cost about $1.1 M per year for the next two years, but if there was ever a time and a team that could do it, it is the Senators now.


I have a budget for a starting goaltender of $4.2 M, and Craig Anderson comes in well under that target at $3.188, and whoever his backup ends up being should come in for less than $1 M, so there is space there as well.


Bryan Murray‘s February deals have put the Senators in a great financial situation going forward, fixing most of his mistakes.  The team will obviously be well under the Salary Cap, and with the exception of Filip Kuba (and to a lesser extent Chris Neil), there are really no players that are hugely overpaid for their expected roles.  The Senators do have room to sign a free agent or two, should the right deal comes along, but they should caution against altering the team make-up.  One player making too much for their slot in the lineup can cause huge problems elsewhere. That is what got the Senators in trouble last season in the first place.

(The figures budgeted above are based on a $60 M Salary Cap, so if the cap should be raised to $62 or $63 M, the Senators cushion will be that much greater.)


Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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