Navigating the Salary Cap is probably one of the more important tasks for any general manager to have. Teams that can avert total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those that don’t see struggles and front office changes.
PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2017-18 season. This will focus more on those players who are integral parts of the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $68,913,333 (under the $75MM Upper Limit)
A team that is designed for a Stanley Cup run probably shouldn’t have too many players on entry level contracts and the Predators have just the two. Fiala is the team’s top young potential star as the former 2014 first-rounder found himself getting called up to the Predators and logged 54 games last year, scoring 11 goals. He even managed to cement himself in the starting lineup and played in five playoff games, scoring two goals, but then broke his femur and his playoffs were cut short. Nevertheless, the team is expecting a big year from the young wing and some even have him penciled in on the team’s second line. As for Saros, the 22-year-old goalie had a pretty good showing last year, playing in 21 contests (19 starts) and putting up a 2.35 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He should be able to shoulder the load as the backup and right now looks to be Nashville’s goaltender of the future.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
The team, already immersed in quality defenders, picked up another veteran defender in Emelin this offseason in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, who picked him from the Montreal Canadiens in the expansion draft. A solid veteran, Emelin, should fill in for the injured Ellis until he returns in December and then provide some veteran depth throughout the rest of the season, which should keep Nashville’s defensive corps as strong as it had always been and he will likely be allowed to move on when his contract expires next year.
Hartnell returns to Nashville after 10 years. Originally drafted in the first round by Nashville in 2000, the 35-year-old forward played six years for the Predators before being traded to Philadelphia. He has scored 314 goals, but only managed 13 in his last year in Columbus. The team hopes his presence will spark the team for another Stanley Cup run. The rest, including Weber, Irwin and McLeod
Two Years Remaining
Two years from now, Rinne’s who has been with the franchise since 2005, will be 36 years old and while he’s still playing well, he’s also beginning to slow down. Do they have an heir apparent ready to take over in Saros? It’s too early to tell, but unless he’s playing out of his mind still in two years, the team will most likely have to find a replacement in net. However, the team hopes he can keep it together for another couple of years for another chance at a Stanley Cup run.
Ellis went down with a knee injury during the playoffs, but continued to play. However, after offseason knee surgery, the 26-year-old defender will be out until January. Regardless, the defenseman is an outstanding defender and was listed by NHL.com as one of the top 20 defenseman in the league last year. His offensive numbers continue to improve as well as he had career highs with 16 goals and 38 points. Even with the injury, his $2.5MM deal for two more years is a bargain.
Aberg and Sissons are both restricted, so re-signing them shouldn’t be too big of a problem. Both are depth players with potential as Aberg has had little NHL experience, but scored 31 goals last year for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. He then got into 15 games for the Predators, scoring two points, but took off in the playoffs, putting up two goals and five points in 16 games. Sissons had just eight goals in 58 games last year, but then put up 12 points, including six goals in the playoffs, so the 23-year-old could be a player who could have an improved year.
Three Years Remaining
The 28-year-old Smith has been with Nashville from they day he was drafted in 2009 and he developed into a solid 20-goal scorer. In 2015, after scoring 47 goals in two years, he was rewarded with a five-year, $21.3MM deal. After a 12-goal season last year, his deal looks like one of the team’s worst deals. The team hopes he bounces back and returns to form. Josi, on the other hand has been one of the top defensemen in the league and is a bargain at $4MM per year. At 27 years old, Josi puts up big numbers and while last year’s numbers of 12 goals and 37 assists were below his usual standards, he made up for it with strong defense. Watson still has much to prove, but is likely to hold onto a fourth-line position this year. He only had 17 points in 77 games, but was a scorer with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals and at age 25 has time to develop his skills.
Four Or More Years Remaining
D P.K. Subban ($9MM through 2021-22)
F Ryan Johansen ($8MM through 2024-25)
F Filip Forsberg ($6MM through 2021-22)
F Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25MM through 2023-24)
F Nick Bonino ($4.1MM through 2020-21)
D Mattias Ekholm ($3.75 through 2021-22)
F Calle Jarnkrok ($2MM through 2021-22)
Like a high-end general manager David Poile has locked up all his talent long-term with the idea of making long playoff runs the norm in Nashville. While Subban is already half-way through the eight-year, $72MM deal he signed in Montreal in 2014, he is the physical presence the team’s defense needs. He had 10 goals and 40 points, but was always there to shut down the other team’s top offensive player. Johansen just received his eight-year, $64MM deal in July and he did that with 14 goals and 47 assists last year. The team’s number one center added another three goals and 10 assists in the playoffs until he had to undergo emergency thigh surgery.
Forsberg has also been a key scorer for the team as the 23-year-old scored 31 goals last year and 90 goals in the past three seasons. A first-round pick in 2012, he is an integral piece to the team’s top scoring line along with Arvidsson, who is also locked up long-term. The 24-year-old had a breakout season last year, putting up 31 goals and 30 assists. He only had 16 points in 58 games a year ago.
The team went out and stole Bonino away from the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins. The 29-year-old gritty center had 18 goals and 19 assists for the Penguins a year ago, but $4.1MM a year for a 18-goal scorer seems exorbitant, assuming he even can be a second-line center. Ekholm is another quality defender on the team, who will have to pick up the slack with Ellis out, but the defensive defender is a key piece to the team. Jarnkrok’s long-term, short-money deal seems nice for a 25-year-old who has scored 31 goals combined in the last two seasons. If he can take it up one more notch, they will have themselves a steal.
Retained Salary Transactions
Still To Sign
Best Value: Josi
Worst Value: Bonino
Poile has done an excellent job of putting together a team that can make a long run at a Stanley Cup. They have the defense and the firepower to do that, as well as the fact that almost everyone is locked up for three years or more. They do have a limited time with Rinne in goal, but besides that the team should prove to be a perennial contender for the next few years.