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: $65,647,000 (under the $75MM Upper Limit)
D Matt Benning (One year remaining, $925K)
F Drake Caggiula (One year remaining, $925K)
F Connor McDavid (One year remaining, $925K)
F Jesse Puljujarvi (Two years remaining, $925K)
F Anton Slepyshev (One year remaining, $925K)
F Kailer Yamamoto (Three years remaining, $925K)
D Darnell Nurse (One year remaining, $863K)
Believe it or not, McDavid is still on the list as the Art Ross Trophy winner, Hart Memorial Trophy winner, and Ted Lindsay Award winner is on the last year of his entry-level deal. McDavid will also be listed later in the story under four year and more as McDavid signed his eight year, $100MM extension this summer and will be locked up long term regardless. More on him later …
The Oilers have high expectations for both Benning and Nurse to take that next step. With injuries mounting, both should be vaulted into bigger roles than they were last year. The 23-year-old Benning played in 62 games last year and played solidly while filling in for injured players. The 22-year-old Nurse also had a solid showing in 44 games this year. Both may be asked to jump onto top-four pairings on defense throughout the year.
Slepyshev, who suffered an ankle injury in the offseason looks close to being ready. He had 10 points in 41 games a year ago, but also scored three goals in the playoffs for Edmonton last year and many feel the 23-year-old is ready to take that next step. Caggiula, a big college player from the University of North Dakota, had seven goals and 18 points in 60 games a year ago in his first year with Edmonton and is also thought to be a player ready to make a jump.
Both Yamamoto and Puljujarvi (Edmonton’s 2017 and 2016 first-round picks, respectively) went head-to-head and battled it out for a final roster spot this training camp with Yamamoto getting the edge and Puljujarvi getting sent to Bakersfield, but don’t be surprised if Puljujarvi is back up at some point during the season.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
D Mark Fayne ($2.6MM, UFA – team saved $1.025MM in cap relief by sending him to AHL)
F Ryan Strome ($2.5MM, RFA)
F Mark Letestu ($1.8MM, UFA)
F Patrick Maroon ($1.5MM, UFA)
F Jussi Jokinen ($1.1MM, UFA)
G Laurent Brossoit ($750K, RFA)
F Iiro Pakarinen ($725K, RFA)
Perhaps the most interesting player the team must focus on will be Maroon, who had a breakout year playing next to McDavid. The 29-year-old wing scored 27 goals and has proven to be one guy who seems to play well next to McDavid. He is a presence in front of the net and a physical force for the team.
Letestu, is another player the team will have to consider. Likely to be the team’s fourth-line center, Letestu put up 16 goals last year, although that was a career high and he’s already 32 years old. Jokinen, who signed a one-year deal this offseason, put up 11 goals last year in Florida, but at 34 years old is likely not a priority to the team.
As for restricted free agents, the team will take a long look at Strome, who the team acquired in the Jordan Eberle deal. The 24-year-old center has had an inconsistent career with the New York Islanders, but put up 13 goals and 30 points last year. The Oilers hope he can keep improving on those numbers. Brossoit will get his first chance to be Talbot’s backup. The 24-year-old looked promising in eight appearances last year.