directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Cap rising a downer for CBJ

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cap rising a downer for CBJ

According to TSN the NHL's salary cap is expected to rise by 6.4 million to 56.7 million. Last year's cap was 50.3 million.

The salary cap floor will now be set at 40.7 million which was higher than the cap limit coming out of the lockout.


So what does this mean for the CBJ?

Its not good. Not good at all.

Cap max teams like Philly, NYR, Boston and pretty much all of the Canadian teams nowadays - thanks to the rise of the Canadian dollar - all have an extra 6 million to spend. That's good for one prime free agent per team. With such a limited UFA pool to pull from that is a lot more competition for free agents for a Columbus market who finally has some money to burn this offseason but perhaps no one to burn it on.

The Jackets are expected to spend between 48 to 50 million this coming season. That puts them perhaps at the mid point.

Last year, according to, the Jackets were 3rd last in the league in payroll at 39.86 million.

However according to an article published yesterday by the Globe & Mail the Jackets were actually 6th from the bottom spending 42.4 million. The article goes on to question whether some teams in the NHL may actually have a hard time hitting the cap floor this coming season.

I don't expect that to be a problem quite yet especially with revenue sharing where markets the size of Columbus and Nashville get in some cases up to 12 million dollars.

Regardless of which numbers to use, if you look at the playoff teams last season only 3 of the 16 teams that made it spent below the average. The more you spend the more you increase your chances it seems.

By my count the Jackets have about 25 million committed to 14 players. They have two key restricted free agents in Pascal Leclaire and RJ Umberger. Dan Fritsche also could figure in there if not traded. Assuming 7 mil between Leclaire and Umberger that leaves between 16 to 18 million to spend on the market.

Unfortuantely with the cap rising by a whopping 6 million that puts a lot more bidders back on the playing field.

The question at this point is will the Jackets find anyone to spend it on given the competition? Will they become the Edmonton of this offseason....all kinds of money to spend by no one willing to come to Columbus to spend it on?

Keep in mind that Howson isn't just going to throw money at players who don't0 "fit" what they are building. So if Kristian Huselius is all that's left on the market I wouldn't get your hopes up that because we have money to spend we will throw it all at a guy like that just because he's what's available.

The Jackets will never be a cap max team. They just don't have the revenue streams to support it. All is not lost though as, believe it or not, the Stanley Cup Winning Detroit Red Wings were actually only 14th in league spending last year. If you break down their team their key players are all draft picks -- Lidstrom, Datsyuk & Zetterberg. Kronwall, Fillpula and Franzen were also picks. They were complimented with the likes of Osgood, Rafalski and Stuart.

Howson is well aware of our position and status in the NHL in terms of market size and free agent attraction. He knows he has to make smart decisions and any chance the Jackets have at the cup someday will be generated from the "build within" approach. This is why you saw him hold onto that 6th overall pick and in a lot cases, that 2nd round pick. We aren't and never were going to spend our way to glory. Our core is going to have to come from within and then complimented by players who can "fit" that core.

...and that's okay - as long as we start hitting on some picks. The "build within" approach only works if you draft well which was major issue under MacLean. We should start seeing the fruits of the Howson era in that area starting as soon as this season perhaps with a guy like Voracek.

Guys like Brassard, Voracek and Filatov need to be home runs if we every hope to contend. We also need to hit big on some lower picks like Russell and Mason.

Our franchise is definitely at a state now though where we need some complimentary guys to go with Nash, Leclaire, Z and Klesla. Umberger is a start but more is needed.

Howson already had his share of challenges attracting free agents if the cap did not change. Things certainly didn't get any easier for him yesterday.

What will be very interesting with this system is when the Canadian dollar weakens, and it will eventually, what the reaction will be when the cap stops rising at these rates. Right now the players are lovin this while the owners are cringing. Those roles could reverse pretty quickly given the economic climate.


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