Navigating the salary cap is one of the more important tasks for any GM. Teams that can avoid 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 for the 2022-23 season and beyond. This will focus more on players who are regulars on the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $82,358,333 (under the $82.5MM Upper Limit)
Johnston cracked the opening roster out of training camp and a decision on whether or not to burn the first year of his contract is fast approaching. So far, he has played well enough to stick around so his deal should stay on the books into next week when he passes the nine-game mark. Dellandrea is in a regular role this year after spending all of last season in the minors. He’s still a likely candidate to land a bridge deal and unless his production increases, he’s unlikely to hit his ‘A’ bonuses. Peterson, meanwhile, was a regular for most of last year but has hardly played this season which puts him in short-term bridge territory as well. His bonuses are games played-based and it’s unlikely he’ll max out on those.
Dallas paid a high price to land Lundkvist, sending a first-rounder in 2023 along with a 2025 conditional selection to land him from the Rangers. If he can lock down a regular role and be productive, he’s someone that could bypass a bridge deal while hitting some of his ‘A’ bonuses this season. That said, with some of the big-ticket contracts on the horizon, the Stars might have to go the bridge route with Lundkvist as well.
Signed Through 2022-23, Non-Entry-Level
F Luke Glendening ($1.5MM, UFA)
F Denis Gurianov ($2.9MM, RFA)
D Joel Hanley ($750K, UFA)
F Roope Hintz ($3.15MM, RFA)
G Anton Khudobin ($3.33MM, UFA)
F Joel Kiviranta ($1.05MM, UFA)
F Joe Pavelski ($5.5MM, UFA)
Pavelski surprisingly had a career year last season at the age of 37, allowing him to extend his stay with the Stars. He maxes out on the games played bonuses at 50 but adding those achievable incentives gives Dallas some flexibility to roll those over to next year if needed. As long as he continues to produce on their top line, he should have a strong market next July if he decides to test the open market. Hintz is one of the big-ticket contracts on the horizon. This is the final year of his bridge deal and he’ll be a year away from UFA eligibility at that time. Another 70-point performance should push that asking price past the $7MM mark if not higher.
Gurianov has been hit or miss throughout his career to the point where it looked like it would be questionable for him to be qualified at $2.9MM. They found a way to make it work this year but if he has another season like the last few, he’s a luxury they likely won’t be able to afford. He has already been scratched once this year which isn’t a good sign. Glendening continues to be an elite player at the faceoff dot which will once again generate some strong interest on the market. It won’t be at the highest of salaries – something in the $1.5MM range might be his ceiling – but he should have several suitors to choose from if he doesn’t re-sign. Kiviranta hasn’t been able to find his scoring form from the bubble that landed him this deal although he’s at least holding down a regular spot in the lineup. That could help land him a small raise next summer but nothing substantial.
Hanley has been an ideal seventh defender for Dallas in recent years, someone that can cover minutes where necessary even after long stretches in the press box and is willing to play for the minimum. They’ll need a seventh defender at that price tag moving forward and it very well could be him.
Khudobin is in the minors but still is on the books directly for more than $2.2MM. At this point, they’re hoping for an injury to pop up somewhere where they can offload most of the deal. Meanwhile, he’ll be 37 next season. A one-year deal around the $1MM range is about where his value would be right now.
Signed Through 2023-24
Miller struggled the last four seasons but his two before that showed some legitimate offensive upside which helped him land this contract. But if he struggles to produce on his deal, he’s going to have a hard time landing more than this on his next deal; if anything, his value probably would go down in that situation. Hakanpaa has shown that he’s capable of logging a regular role while being one of the most prolific hitters in this league. He didn’t have much of a track record when he hit free agency in 2021 but he will this time around. If he keeps up this type of performance, he could add a million on his next deal in a contract that would be similar to Radko Gudas.
Wedgewood opted to not test free agency to get some long-desired stability. He has bounced around in recent years, often spending time as a third-stringer. If he can hold his own as a full-time backup, he could have a chance to double this price tag in 2024.
Signed Through 2024-25
Benn’s contract has been a negative-value one from the moment it was signed. He’s still a capable NHL player but he’s better off being on the third line in an ideal situation. The typical going rate for that role is about a third of this cost. A few years ago, Faksa looked to be on his way to being a quality two-way center but over the last couple of seasons, his scoring has fallen off completely. If he can get back to the 30-point mark routinely over the next few years, he could get another deal around this price point. Otherwise, his price tag will be coming down.
Lindell has been a fixture on the top pairing for several years now although his usage is down in the early going this season. That stretch aside, he’ll be 31 when this contract is up and if he gets back to being a 22-minute or more player that can chip in with some secondary scoring, he could land a small raise on a long-term (six or seven-year) deal. Suter surprised some by getting four years from the Stars last summer and while he’s logging 23 minutes a night now, that will drop by the end of the contract. If he decides to stick around after this pact, it’ll almost certainly be a one-year agreement.
Oettinger’s contract was one of the more intriguing RFA ones that were signed this summer. With barely one season’s worth of games under his belt and no arbitration rights, his contract was going to be somewhat of a market-setter. This bridge contract was the obvious outcome (especially with their cap situation) and it’s one that sets up Oettinger nicely. He’ll be owed a $4.8MM qualifying offer and will have arbitration rights at that time. If he remains the starter for this time (a very likely scenario) and the salary cap is starting to go up by then (also a very likely scenario), Oettinger should be in a position to command at least $7MM on a max-term agreement for his next contract.
Signed Through 2025-26 Or Longer
Seguin’s deal is another one that looked bad the moment it was signed and it certainly hasn’t aged well. He can at least still hold down a spot on the second line which gives him a bit more short-term value than Benn although those last couple of years will certainly be burdensome. Robertson received a rare four-year bridge that sets him up well when he’ll be owed a $9.3MM qualifying offer with arbitration rights in 2026. A double-digit AAV should be within his grasp at that time as long as he remains a point-per-game top-liner. Marchment’s deal carries some risk with his limited track record although the early returns are promising. If he legitimately is a top-six power forward, he could land an extra million or so on his next deal as he’ll only be 31 when he returns to the open market.
Heiskanen bypassed the bridge deal with this contract which briefly was the richest handed to a defender coming off his entry-level pact in NHL history. (That has since been passed by Cale Makar and Adam Fox.) It’s a contract that gives Dallas a legitimate top defender at a rate that’s below what the highest-paid blueliners are getting now but it also positions Heiskanen to hit the open market at the age of 30 where he could still command a max-term agreement, potentially in the $10MM range if all goes well.
Retained Salary Transactions
Best Value: Hintz
Worst Value: Benn
As long as Dallas doesn’t have too many injuries, they’ll be okay from a cap perspective. They won’t bank much space but they can avoid being in LTIR which would give them a chance to absorb some bonuses on this year’s cap instead of next season. However, a couple of short-term injuries could have them icing a lineup that’s missing a player to get the short-term cap-exempt recall. They’re hardly the only team in that situation though.
Looking ahead, Hintz will be the top priority for GM Jim Nill and could go a long way in determining if they can afford Pavelski for another season so it wouldn’t be shocking to see them push to get that done sooner than later. With over $62MM committed already though, it’d be a tight fit.
There’s enough secondary money coming off the books over the next couple of seasons to give them at least a bit of flexibility but a lot of that money will be earmarked for raises for Oettinger and Robertson when their deals expire. Dallas doesn’t have the cleanest cap situation in the league by any stretch but it’s at least manageable over the next few years.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.