So, who’s sweating the NHL salary cap the most?

Getty
5 Comments

It’s only natural: once the $73 million cap ceiling and $54 million floor became official for 2016-17, fans asked “Where does my team stand?”

At such a modest bump from 2015-16’s $71.4 million upper-limit, teams aren’t exactly going to loosen their belts. Meanwhile, hitting the floor is tougher, but not astronomically so.

If you want to check out the situation for every team, consult General Fanager and Cap Friendly. For the sake of your scrolling thumb, consider this an abridged look at the teams sweating things the most.

One team above the cap

The only team currently above the $73 million ceiling is the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

That’s almost $1.5 million more than allotted.

It’s not necessarily a reason to panic, as Cap Friendly’s estimate is based on a roster size of 23 players. One would assume that the Penguins could place Pascal Dupuis‘ $3.75 million cap hit on LTIR, too. Eventually.

Without major players to re-sign (sorry, Justin Schultz), the Penguins’ situation isn’t as bad as it initially looks. Things will still be pretty tight, however, so expect regular Marc-Andre Fleury rumors going forward.

Teams sweating the ceiling

So, who else is heading for discomfort? The short answer is “the usual suspects.”

The Chicago Blackhawks gained some breathing room by moving Bryan Bickell’s cap hit, but they’re still gasping for air:

And … yeah, it would still be tough to grab Evgeni Malkin.

Maybe the Los Angeles Kings have a slightly better chance to retain Milan Lucic, but that situation is very much TBD, as LA Kings Insider notes here.

That slight bump might be good news for the Detroit Red Wings amid their efforts to get rid of Pavel Datsyuk‘s $7.5 million cap hit:

Long story short, contending teams with limited space and significant pieces to consider will sweat things about as much as expected. Again, these two resources are your friend.

Down under

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the teams that need to get to the floor, aka “Those who should be on Ken Holland’s speed dial.”

  • The Coyotes took a step closer with the just-about-official Alex Goligoski bump. They generally have a lot of spots to fill, too.
  • The Devils are closer after absorbing Marc Savard‘s roaming cap hit. A guy like Kyle Palmieri should help them beef up their salary base, too.
  • The Lightning will probably stand as big-spenders. The Bruins have plenty of money waiting to be spent, with the bigger questions being “Who gets the cash and who leaves?” The Panthers seem primed to spend like a contender, at least in relative terms.
  • Don’t worry about the Flames; Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan should eat up plenty of space.
  • The Jets and Senators rank among those teams trying to be budget playoff contenders, so they might not be far from the floor. They shouldn’t struggle too much, what with the need to re-sign guys like Mike Hoffman.
  • The Hurricanes may be a salary dump target, as they don’t really have major players to lock up and are at about $48 million.

Overall, there aren’t a ton of teams that should really sweat the cap floor, especially if someone actually accepts Datsyuk’s dead money.

Ultimately, the table is set for an intriguing off-season. The increase in cap space keeps free agent season alive, but the boost is small enough that teams might need to make bold trades to save space.

Buckle up.