With the news that the NHL has proposed a 50/50 split of the all important hockey related revenue, the hope is welling up around the league. We'll save our hope for things we can be more sure of, like winning the lottery. However, as the details come out, there are some questions we can start o have some fun with.
That's the word we're looking for, right? Fun?
A tweet late last night from Bob McKenzie presents an interesting twist to the salary cap. He reports that the cap for this season would remain at the $70.2 million, dropping to $59.9 million next season. For the math impaired, that's a $10.3 million drop in one summer. All of those teams that thought they would be rolling in cap space next season just saw the equivalent of an Alexander Ovechkin and $1.3 million in extra space disappear before their eyes.
For the Wild, this means that they go from having just over $19 million in space to having around $8.7 million to run with.
CapGeek shows that the Wild have 16 players under contract for the 2013-14 season. UFAs would include Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Matt Cullen, and Niklas Backstrom. RFAs are Marco Scandella, Justin Falk, and Jared Spurgeon. A side note - The Cam Barker buyout would come off the books for that season as well.
Having $8.7 million to sign seven players is not going to be simple, to be sure. We don't know what will happen with RFA qualifying offers yet, but assuming they stay similar to current rules, Spurgeon, Scandella, and Falk won't be seeing big raises. Of the three, only Spurgeon really deserves one, and if he knocks it out the park with being partnered with Ryan Suter, maybe he gets a pay day.
If I had to venture a guess, none of them are signed for more than the $1.3 - 1.4 million range. Spurgeon can be had rather cheap due to his humble beginnings. Figure the trio costs the team around $3.5 million to re-sign. That's assuming they don't send one or more of them packing or to Houston to make room from Jonas Brodin (who is more expensive).
The UFAs are all but guaranteed to be packing up under the new cap. No way Bouchard is ready to take the type of scalping that would be needed to keep him around, and the Wild are going to be desperate to unload the injury risk. Cullen is in his twilight, so no reason to worry there, either.
The big question is Backstrom. Does he take a cut to stick around? Do the Wild let him walk? Trade him for something of value if this season is played? Is Matt Hackett ready for the backup role?
If I'm Chuck Fletcher, it is time to throw the reigns to Josh Harding and, if need be, sign a capable backup. This season would be the determining factor for Harding. Put up or shut up and make the call near the trade deadline. Remember, if Harding takes the top spot, Backstrom's NTC disappears.
No way I re-sign Cullen or Bouchard. Great guys, but they will be victims of the new world order. The RFAs will have to accept the new reality and sign for cheap or find themselves on the outside looking in. If Brodin has a good season, he gets a spot, maybe even with Suter.
The new cap is going to reek havoc on some teams across the league. As of right now, if the cap is what McKenzie suggests, the Wild lose the massive advantage they had, but they certainly aren't up against a wall. Fletcher has room to breathe, prospects to bring in, and trades he can make.
This is not to say the new proposal does not carry some pitfalls for the Wild. For example:
Any existing deal in excess of 5 yrs would carry cap hit in every year of contract, even if player were to retire with year(s) left.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 17, 2012
In other words... those two fancy deals Craig Leipold just signed? Yeah. They carry a cap hit, even if Parise and / or Suter decide to retire at some point in the deal. THat should be fun to deal with just as Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Brodin, etc are coming into the biggest pay days of their careers.
For now, let's talk about next year. It's been awhile, Wilderness. What do you do with next year's cap?