Armchair GM For The 2015-16 Season Part 1: Forwards


The off-season is long. It’s even longer for fans of teams that didn’t make the playoffs or were knocked out early. That’s why people need to get creative in the off-season, and there’s nothing cooler than making your own team for the next season as if you were the General Manager. Another new cap site has sprung up recently, called Hockey’s Cap and they have an awesome new feature called Armchair GM.

Armchair GM makes it as if you were the GM in an NHL video game, but you are using real live salary numbers. So I thought it was a great time to use this tool to create a team that I would like to see for next year. This could probably wait a month, but once I saw this I couldn’t wait. As a hockey fan this is one of best tools out there because you can pretend you are a real manager. I split this roster into two blogs, and part 1 is focused on the forwards.

Here is what the forwards look like (take into account that the players are only sortable by cap hit):

So because the contracts aren’t sortable by actual lines, here is what the complete lines would look like:





There could be any 13th forward, but my pick would be Matt Puempel. Overall, I really like this group. There is lots of potential, and I got rid of some needless players. Here’s an overview of the moves I made:

1. Signed Lee Stempniak to a 2-year deal for $1.3 million per year

Stempniak is a solid player, and he’s still 32 years old so a short-term deal for him could work out quite well for Ottawa. This past season he made only $900,00, and he scored 28 points in 71 games so he should come cheap. His performance this season wasn’t too great, but over the course of his career he has averaged 43 points a season.

He may not be at that level anymore, but if he’s on the fourth line I would be fine with him getting 25-30 points and being solid defensively. He’s the sort of cheap signing that Ottawa would love, and he really adds depth to the bottom six. He’s a much better option than Chris Neil and Zack Smith, and somehow could even be cheaper.

Mar 17, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Lee Stempniak (20) prior to the game against the San Jose Sharks at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

2. Traded Chris Neil to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2nd round pick

Since the Jets lost Stempniak in this fantasy scenario, they may be looking for a right-winger. Enter Neil. They were reportedly looking to trade for him a few months ago, and I think they would still be interested. A 2nd round pick seems like a lot for him and maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’ll always say that if Paul Gaustad can net a first round pick, anything is possible.

I feel like the Neil plays the Jets style of hitting hard and playing physical, so I think this is a fit.

3. Traded Zack Smith to the Edmonton Oilers for a 4th round pick 

The Oilers have been connected to Smith before in an Ales Hemsky trade, and perhaps they are still interested. To be honest I would take anything for Smith right now just to get rid of his salary, but a mid-round pick is still possible I think. This isn’t about the return, it’s about freeing a spot on the roster.

4. Traded David Legwand to the New Jersey Devils for a 5th round pick

Legwand is another forward I would get rid of, and I feel like I have to because of his salary. He got a ton of flak this year, but he wasn’t that bad as a fourth line player. However, he’s being paid as a 2nd/3rd line player at $3 million, so I need to get rid of him.

I have no idea who would be interested, but the Devils always have an old roster made up of a mish-mash of players, so Legwand fits the bill. Once again, I don’t care about the return and I would take just about anything.

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5. Signed Mark Stone to a 5 year deal for $4.5 million per year

Stone’s negotiations will be very interesting, because they could give him a bridge deal or a long-term deal. I feel like Ottawa will try to go on a bit longer deal for him, but it will still be expensive. I would be happy with a 5 year deal, and a $4.5 million cap hit seems reasonable for both sides. I doubt he will have a mega cap hit after his rookie season, but there’s no way he makes less than say $3 million unless it’s on a one or two year deal.

The team hopes he won’t want too much, and this contract works for both sides in my opinion.

6. Signed Mike Hoffman to a 2 year deal for $3.2 million per year

Although Hoffman had a fantastic season and led the team in goals, I can’t see him getting a big salary on his next deal. $3.2 million is still pretty hefty, but the contract is only two years. I am a huge Hoffman fan and hope he stays with the team, but if there’s one player that will get a bridge deal I bet it’s him.

The thing that the team has to hope is that he’s motivated these next two years to try to get a better contract in 2017.

Apr 7, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators fans celebrate the goal scored by left wing Mike Hoffman (68) late in the third period to tie the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

7. Signed Mika Zibanejad to a 5 year deal for $3.75 million per year

The main deal I thought about here was the Kyle Turris one he signed after his first half season in Ottawa. That deal brought some criticism because he was still relatively unproven, but now it looks like one of the best steals in the league.

I think Zibanejad could get a similar deal, and I would try to lock him up for a while. I don’t think he should be making any more than $4 million at this point, and a five year deal will keep him here for a good period of time.

8. Signed Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a 3 year deal for $2.5 million per year

Pageau should be a fixture on the Senators third line for a long time, and I doubt he’ll ever get a massive cap hit. He’ll be limited offensively, and $2.5 million is reasonable. In fact, it may be a bit of an overestimation, but he will be worth that money for sure.

9. Signed Shane Prince to a 2 year deal for $1 million, called him up

Prince has only played two NHL games, and of course he won’t be getting a big contract at all. He will most likely get between $900,000 and $1.2 million for his next deal, as he deserves. I think he should be in the NHL next season though, as he has shown that he is more than capable of dominating in the AHL.

He would be a cheap option for the fourth line and could still produce a bit.

[Condra’s] cap hit might seem a bit high, but he’s worth it

10. Signed Erik Condra to a three year deal for $2.8 million per year

There is no way that I would let Condra slip through my fingers. He’s too valuable to the bottom six, and he’s one of the best penalty killers and possession drivers out there. His cap hit might seem a bit high, but he’s worth it. He makes the players around him better, and he’s one of the few forwards that are extremely reliable in their own end.

This contract is also only $150,000 more expensive than Greening’s cap hit by the way.

11. Buy out Colin Greening (Cap Hit: $1,641,667)

It’s obvious that the Senators don’t want him. Even other teams in the league don’t want him, because he went unclaimed on waivers. I think he would get a shot somewhere for the league minimum, but his contract is just so bad. I’d be shocked if this didn’t happen in real life.


So those were the 11 moves I made, although six of those were just re-signing players. It isn’t the biggest make over, but it does make them better and gives them a few extra draft picks. I don’t think this forward group needs a whole lot of help, but I think someone like Stempniak who is cheap could really help in the bottom six.

Of course, it’s very hard to predict RFA (and even UFA) contracts. I may end up being off on a few of them, which is inevitable. Also, the three trades I made may not be realistic but they do seem like reasonable deals. It’s hard to guess how each GM values his assets, which is why this fantasy world has some problems. Still though, it’s all about having fun with “what ifs.”

That’s what I would (realistically) do as the Armchair GM for forwards, and I’m pretty happy with that. Tune in this week for part two where I make some bigger moves on defense and goaltenders.