After the 2010-11 NHL season had concluded, the league established that the following season’s salary cap would feature a ceiling of $64.3 million and a minimum floor of $48.3 million.
In other words, thanks to these increases, NHL general managers have to ensure that their team’s accumulative salary falls between these two thresholds.
Unfortunately for teams that aren’t expected to contend, the salary cap floor has presented a two-fold problem:
- Teams like the Florida Panthers entered the free agent market on July 1st with an impetus to spend frivolously on mediocre talent, that they otherwise wouldn’t sign, strictly because they are obligated to meet the floor. Not only is this problematic for these teams that have to inflate their payroll without reasonable cause, it negatively affects the rest of the market by inflating the salaries of other comparable players.
- Teams like the Ottawa Senators that currently flirt with the salary cap floor who have spent modestly and have shed significant salary in recent seasons are posed with a challenge. If you look at Ottawa’s roster, a number of potential trade candidates – Filip Kuba, Sergei Gonchar – could prove difficult to move. Not because either of these players are incapable of having bounce back seasons or improving their inherent trade value, but because Ottawa has to stay above the cap floor.
Using the Cap Geek Calculator, I projected Ottawa’s current roster to look somewhat like this. Please note that for Erik Condra and Bobby Butler, I used their respective salaries from last season.
Milan Michalek ($4.333m) / Jason Spezza ($7.000m) / Bobby Butler ($0.900m)
Nikita Filatov ($2.195m) / Peter Regin ($1.000m) / Daniel Alfredsson ($4.875m)
Nick Foligno ($1.200m) / Jesse Winchester ($0.750m) / Chris Neil ($2.000m)
Colin Greening ($0.816m) / Zenon Konopka ($0.700m) / Erik Condra ($0.800m)
/ / Zack Smith ($0.700m)
Sergei Gonchar ($5.500m) / Erik Karlsson ($1.300m)
Chris Phillips ($3.083m) / Brian Lee ($0.875m)
Filip Kuba ($3.700m) / Matt Carkner ($0.700m)
/ David Rundblad ($1.500m)
Craig Anderson ($3.187m) / Alex Auld ($1.000m)
BUYOUTS: Jonathan Cheechoo ($1.166m) / Daniel Alfredsson ($0.700m) / Ray Emery ($0.562m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $50,545,833; BONUSES: $2,375,000
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $13,754,167
Time to put on your capologist hats everybody…
Ideally, the organization would be able to flip the previously mentioned Kuba for a draft pick since the team already has an in house alternative in Jared Cowen who is on the cusp of cracking the squad.
However, the problem therein is that if you were to subtract Kuba’s $3.7 million salary from the books and replace it with Cowen’s $1.265 million salary that would only bring the payroll to $48.11 million. It becomes pretty clear that if Ottawa’s going to make any kind of deal, they’re going to have to take some salary back.If only Konopka and Ottawa's other pugilists could fight this minor nuisance...
The cap system is messed up, no doubt about it. But come on, the league shut down for a year and the league and owners go the deal they wanted! If things stayed as they were, I would be willing to bet the cumulative salaries of all players would be much less than it is today.
A Kuba buyout would solve this problem.
Or providing Butler's new contract with a $1.0 million bonus if he does something absurd (since bonuses are counted against the cap this season because of the expiring CBA.)
Filip Kuba is 34 years old on the buyout date of July 20, 2011, setting the buyout ratio at 2/3 and the total buyout cost at $2,466,667 spread over 2 years. His contract was originally valued at $11,100,000 beginning in 2009 and ending in 2012, with $3,700,000 remaining from the buyout year forward. The following is a season-by-season breakdown of the buyout.
With a rebuilding team that is expected to miss the playoffs, it'd be an incredibly short-sighted decision to buyout Kuba. With such low expectations for the team, they can afford to give him an opportunity to have a bounce back season and hopefully be able to recoup some value and future assets (draft pick/prospect/whatever) in a trade.
At this point, the Senators need that $3.7 million cap hit on the books too.
@Nichols6thSens valid point on Kuba. Has his NTC expired for this season? A la Kovalev trade, even a warm body drafted in the 7th round would immediately mean the Sens win the trade. Unless of course MacLean can get a renaissance year out of him since he'll be looking for a new contract.
I'm still a fan of the Butler bonus angle though.
@senzfan2006 There are a couple of workarounds for sure - including your suggested Butler + bonus angle (which is probably the most realistic by the way). Kicking around the idea with a few friends over a couple of beers, the suggestion of an offer sheet to Turris came up. Not too sure Ottawa would want to pay anything more than $2 million a season though. (PHX would probably match that price too.)