directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Cap casualties Part I

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cap casualties Part I

With all the talk about adding another top 6 forward to the CBJ coffers, at the suggestion of a reader, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the teams that are just at or above the cap. These are teams that perhaps the Jackets could take advantage of in terms of adding another roster player to their group.

Before getting to the teams one must keep in mind that even though the Jackets are some 8 to 9 million below the cap limit (this is assuming Lelclaire gets signed for around 4 mil a year) it does not mean the Jackets will spend that high. Of course teams above the salary cap will be looking to dump salary, probably older players who no longer fit their short or long term plans, thus the Jackets would have to be willing to not only take on even more salary but do so with an older player.

Lets take a look at the teams above or at the cap and just who may come available as a salary dump. I've taken these numbers from -- please keep in mind this is not a 100% accurate picture of each team. As I was glancing over some of their numbers for some of these cap teams they haven't taken into consideration some buyouts for instance. Still its a good source to generate some discussion.

As we discuss each team remember the following:

*Upper limit: 56.7 million
*Lower limit: 40.7 million
*Teams can be over the cap until the start of the season

Teams above the cap

Philladelphia Flyers - 60.592

The Flyers continue to spend spend spend. They have two players making 8 mil this year in Briere and Timonen. They have 3 making over 5 in Richards, Carter & Gagne. Then 3 more making over 3.5 in Hatcher, Rathje and Biron. This doesn't even include Lupul's new contract at 4.25 per that kicks in next season. Holmgren must have a plan to shed some salary and chances are it starts on defense.

Players who may get dumped:
Derian Hatcher is in the final year of his contract and rumor has it that the Flyers would like to see him retire to free up his 3.5 million - that or go on the extended IR. I wouldn't count on Hatcher doing any of it so Holmgren may have no other choice but to put him on waivers as I don't see teams lining up to take on his age (36) and contract.

Mike Rathje is another guy who at 34 is a guy the Flyers could try to dump. Unlike Hatcher he's got two years left on his deal at 3.5 per. I don't see any teams touching that so again it may be a case of waivers or looking towards other options.

Simon Gagne is another player who is taking a big piece of that cap up with his 5.250 million. Gagner is a great player when healthy. The problem is his health in terms of concussions - he only played in 25g last season. Gagne could generate some interest out there but with 3 years left on his deal at 5.25 a season its a big risk to take.

Mike Knuble has 1 year left on his 2.8 million dollar deal. He's 36 and scored 29g for 55p last year. He's certainly a guy Holmgren shouldn't have much problem moving for a team looking for another scoring winger. Again though I don't see him returning a whole lot in return.

Scottie Upshall is a 24 year old right winger scheduled to make 1.25 mil next season. Upshall 6th overall pick back in 2002 who has never quite lived up to his draft status. He notched 14g 16a last season. He's another guy team would be interested in but at 1.25 million its going to take more than that to get them under the cap.

Jackets interest:
Hatcher, Rathje and Gagne I don't see happening due to various reason like salary, age and injury history. Knuble is a long shot that I could only see getting serious if the Jackets lose one of their current top 6 wingers to a season ending injury. Upshall is a guy who would fit the core of the Jackets nicely but at this point in his career he's more of a bottom 6 guy whom we have plenty of.

Chicago Blackhawks - 59.208

When you have 12.375 million tied up in two goaltenders your going to have cap problems. Simply put one is going to have to go and considering the 'hawks just inked Huet to a shiny 4 year deal that odd man out could be Khabibulin and his 6.75 mil in salary. The question is who if anyone is willing to take that contract on if even for just a year? If they keep Habby are there other options?

Players who may get dumped:
As mentioned Khabibulin seems to be the obvious choice here. Howerver there a couple of others..

Martin Havlat. Havlat is a very dynamic player when healthy. Unfortunately that never occurs. In the past 3 seasons combined he's only played in 109 games. The most being in 2006 when he got in 56. At 6 million a year that just ain't going to cut it and if the 'hawks can cut him lose they will most certainly do so.

Robert Lang. Lang was signed as a stop gap until some of their young studs were ready. With both Kane and Toews steamrolling onto the scene last year that reduced Lang's role in the windy city. With only 1 year left on his deal at 4 mil per he could be on the move.

Jackets interest:
None of the above. Jackets are happy with their goaltending. They won't take the chance on Havlat as I think he falls into that "cheap skill" category of players that Howson will stay away from. Lang is the only guy who may have an outside shot but I think Brassard would have to really crash and burn and Howson would have to have a lot of other doors close on him before he looks Lang's way at a division rival no less.

Boston Bruins - 58.299

With the recent signing of Denis Wideman to a 4 year deal worth close to 16 mil it pushes the Bruins over the cap by a couple of mil. Looking at the Bruins roster they have 3 players over 5 mil with Chara, Savard and Bergeron. 4 at 4 mil with Murray, Fernandez, Ryder and Wideman. The biggest problem with the Bruins is their injuries - both Bergeron and Fernandez spent the majority of the year on IR. If those two are ready to go then Boston will need to trim some salary.

Players who may get dumped:
Glen Murray. He's a 35 year old right winger who has 1 year left on his deal at 4.15 million. Murray had a tough year last year with injuries and only notched 17g in 63 games. In fact he's had injury problems the last 3 years. I can definitely see the Bruins wanting to move in another direction, especially since they signed Ryder to such a rich deal this offseason, but they may find it difficult to do so even as a salary dump. If they get desperate waivers is also an option.

Peter Schaefer. A 31 year old left wing who had a very dissapointing year last season for the B's only notching 9g for 26p. He's got 2 years left on his deal at 2.3 per. If the B's can't move Murray Schaefer is next in line.

PJ Axelsson. This 33 year old left winger has one year left on his deal at 1.850 million. He's a untility guy who won't put up big numbers but is reliable and good for about 25 points a season. A team looking for a good 2-way 3rd liner who can kill penalties may have an interest. I think the B's would rather move other players but if they are forced to lose a couple of mil to get under the cap this guy could be moved.

Jackets interest:
I don't see any interest in Murray or Schaefer at this point. Murray needs a center to get him the puck and we have enough wingers with that problem. Schaefer's down year and contract is to scary at this point to chance and besides he's another winger. The Jackets have their Axelsson clone in Michael Peca. Unfortunately what the Jackets really need is a guy like Marc Savard and he's not going anywhere.

Calgary Flames - 58.179

The Flames have identified their core and locked them down for the foreseeable future. Guys like Iginla, Phaneuf, Kiprusoff, Sarich, Regehr and Langkow have all been signed to high dollar long term deals. That group of 6 alone will cost the Flames 35.4 million next season. Looking over their roster the Flames may not be as high over the cap as has them as I know Anders Eriksson, Rhett Warrener and Marcus Nilson were all bought out. They still carry a cap it but not as much as they have listed.

Players who may get dumped:
Calgary has already trimmed a lot of fat with the dumps of Eriksson, Warrener and Nilson. They made offseason additions in Cammalleri, Bertuzzi, Bourque, Glencross and Vandermeer. They also re-signed Conroy and as mentioned Langkow. For a team that may be over the cap that sure is a lot of player personel added and you know they won't move any of the new or re-signed blood -- if they have to dump someone I guess it would be..

Adrian Aucoin. He's scheduled to make 4 mil this year but after coming over from a miserable couple of years in Chicago Aucoin put up solid numbers last season scoring 10g and 35p. He's in the last year of his deal but I think him moving is unlikely.

Mathew Lombardi. With Langkow, Conroy and Cammalleri all capable of playing center where does that leave the 26 year old Lombardi? He's signed for 2 more years at 1.55 and 2.35. He had 14g for 36p last season. If Calgary needed some breathing room under the cap surely there would be a lot of takers for this guy.

Jackets interest:
I'd rather have Aucoin than Backman but that's neither here or there. I think for now the Jackets are okay with their defense and wouldn't take on Aucoin's 4 mil as a straight salary dump. Mathew Lombardi is completely different story. Kid has speed to kill and play making skills. He is the exact kind of player I could see Howson jumping on if he came available on the cheap.

Anaheim Ducks - 58.013

The Ducks are an interesting team to keep an eye on. They've locked up 3 of their young studs on offense in Perry, Getzlaf and Kunitz for the next 4+ years. However they have 13 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next summer and only 29 mil commited to the books. They've already bought out Bertuzzi to help get under the cap this season and are going to need to make at least another move to achieve that goal. Its been widely speculated that Burke will head to Toronto after this season to expect the Ducks to hover right around the cap to make another Cup run.

Players who may get dumped:
Mathieu Schneider. Rumor after rumor has Schneider and his 5.75 million being shopped on the cheap. He makes sense to cut lose given his age at 39 and contract which expires after this season. Still that's quite a bit of salary to swallow and it wouldn't surprise me if Burke puts him on waivers at some point.

Jackets interest:
Really when I look down that lineup Schneider is the only guy whom really makes sense especially with Scott Neidermeyer coming back for another year. I think the Jackets may have an interest in a guy like Schneider come the trade deadline but for now they can't take take on a 5.75 mil salary dump unless they send someone (Backman?) the other way.

Washington Capitals - 56.980

It sure didn't take the Capitals long to abondon their build from within watch the bottom line plan and spend past cap ceiling did it? I guess when you finally hit on a couple of youngsters like Ovechkin/Green/Backstrom/Semin your philosophy can change quickly -- it sure would be nice to see Brassard/Voracek/Russell/Filatov/Mason do that for us but I digress. Of course with success of younger players comes time to pay for them which Ovechkin and Green benefited from this season. Throw the re-signing of Fedorov in there for 4 mil (have fun with that one Caps) and they are right up against the cap.

Players who may get dumped:
If the Caps have to move someone the biggest rumor out there is 35 year old center Michael Nylander. Nylander is singed for 3 more years at 5.5, 5.5 and 3 million. He only played in 40 games last year but piled up 11g and 37 points. Unfortunately Nylander suffered a season ending shoulder injury midway through the season and the Caps went on their playoff run without him. If the Caps need to dump salary he'll be a prime candidate.

Jackets interest:
Nylander would be a tempting target should the Jackets struggle out of the gate. If you look at the prior 2 seasons before his injury he had 83 and 79 points and he could help jump start the Jackets offense should it struggle. At the end of the day though I think Howson passes -- he's just to old and to much of risk given the 3 years left on his contract. Acquiring him would be a desperation move ala Fedorov of a couple seasons ago. Howson doesn't strike me as a guy who will make that kind of deal. If he had only 1 year left on his deal I could see more interest on the Jackets part (and most of the league for that matter).

So those are the teams at or above the cap. The player I think the Jackets would have the most interest in out of the whole bunch is Mathew Lombardi. Why? Because he's only 26, he's a center, affordable and plays the type of game Howson/Hitch covet. Unfortunately for all those reasons Calgary wouldn't want to move him.

I just can't see Howson taking a veteran salary dump -- especially if they have more than 1 year left on their deal. Should our defense struggle and guys like Schneider and/or Aucoin are still hanging out there perhaps there may be some interest but I think the Jackets would send back some salary in that kind of deal.

Over the next day or so I'll take a look at teams that are just under that cap like San Jose, Edmonton, New Jersey and Detroit so see if there are any potential dumps amongst them.

Check this article out from Wes Goldstein of in regards to under-the-radar signings:

Kristian Huselius, Columbus: He didn't come cheap for Columbus at $19 million for four years, but considering some of the prices being paid these days, that's not a bad deal for someone who is entering his prime at age 29. Huselius is one of the most skilled players no one seems to know about, a result of him having spent his career so far in relative obscurity in Florida and, more recently, Calgary. His game can be a little soft some times, but he's an offensive force who will fit in well with Rick Nash and the impressively rebuilt Blue Jackets.

Discuss - out of those teams are there any players that catch your attention in particular?



Anonymous said...

I know another winger isn't what we really need, but I would definitely take Gagne (he came into the league as a center-but was moved to wing shortly after). He was a skilled, light player when Hitchcock first arrived in philly, but after Hitch had him for a year or two, he turned into a heck of a two-way player. Over the past year and a half, however, he started playing on the perimeter again. Hitch would fix that right up. His melon is a bit of a problem of course, but he is a very good player when healthy and when held accountable.

Lombardi is another guy I would like to add, but I don't see Calgary dumping him. Why they resigned Conroy I will never know.

Nylander is interesting for sure and something to think about. I guess it depends on who we give up, but at this point I wouldn't want to give up a whole lot for him. I would rather do without and wait for one of our guys, or another young guy to come our way.

I wouldn't be interested in Schneider at all. I didn't like much of what I saw of him last year. He is done and WAAAY expensive.

I am surprised at how many teams are over the cap, actually. I didn't think it was that many.

Good summary.

Erik said...

Very good article LTL, unfortunately I have to agree there isn’t really anything of interest in the lineup.. I just did some browsing myself and found your article to be pretty darn good.. It seems more then likely the majority of players on the chopping block are aging veterans who are past their prime and locked down in very unattractive contracts. Regarding Lombardi, he would be a nice addition but I would be shocked if he would be the one to go… there are too many positives about this guy, not the least of which would be his very reasonable contract. So I guess from the CBJ perspective we are pretty much settled. The only other possibility would be a trade involving Novotny, Tollefson and Backman.. But to be honest I am not sure if there is a possibility of trade with these guys.

The really interesting developments will be coming from LA and Atlanta, because both teams are under the cap floor, and in LA’s Case they are ridiculously low… Fellow LTL fans, is LA required to hit the cap floor or could they potentially get away with it by paying some sort of penalty??

Anonymous said...

They have to reach the cap floor by the date of the first game. I was asking my friend about what would happen if they didn't and he said that the NHL would add players to their roster until they got to the floor. Not sure how that would work, but I doubt it gets to that point. I can see them picking up Khabibulin from the Hawks which would also help the Hawks who have the opposite problem. I have also heard they might obtain Havlat.

I can't understand how a management team would allow themselves to get so far below the cap. They think they are going to go young, which is all fine and dandy, but jeepers, plan ahead a little bit.

LTL said...

Erik - the way I understand it is that according to the CBA a team must be at the lower cap limit or else they will be suspsended from play.

It certainly will be interesting to see how the Kings plan to get to the cap floor. I know they have a couple of RFAs in Patrick O'Sullivan and Jarret Stoll to get signed which should certainly help that cause.


Anonymous said...

Kevin Hatcher? Isn't it Derian Hatcher?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's Derian.

LTL said...

Yeah.. its Derian.. changed.


Erik said...

Thinking about Chicago’s cap issue, I wouldn’t mind picking up Havlat or Lang..
Personally I always considered them to be solid players. However I doubt Chicago is going to part ways with these guys… but if they do…. Would you guys consider them ??

markislander said...

I would have to agree with LTL,Havlat has some injury problems and since leaving Ottawa he hasen"t been the same,but like i always say somtimes a new place can change a player but he is still a risk.

Max said...

Lombardi is the best of the bunch. He's a solid player. Everyone else... well they just aren't worth it. It would be wonderful to get Lombardi here in Columbus, it would certainly take some pressure off of Umberger. But in reality I doubt it will happen. I think the CBJ is done with moves. Maybe Scotty will surprise us, though...