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: $69,375,832 (under the $75MM Upper Limit)
While the brand-new franchise is focused on building up a powerhouse team over the next five years, which means draft picks and more draft picks, which will create a revolving door at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, there should be at least one constant who is already locked in for the future in Theodore. The just-turned 22-year-old is considered to be a long-term piece and despite the team’s overwhelming defensive logjam, the hope is Theodore is on the team’s opening day roster. Theodore shined last year during Anaheim’s playoff run when he along with several other defenseman had to step in for injured players and fared well. Theodore, a offensive defenseman, was a first-round pick of the Ducks in 2013 and despite having just nine points in 39 regular season games last year, he put up eight goals in 14 playoff games.
Tuch, a talented forward acquired near the expansion draft in a side deal with the Minnesota Wild, has a chance to immediately make the team out of training camp. The 21-year-old wing was a first-round pick in 2014 and scored 18 goals for the AHL’s Iowa Wild last year.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
F James Neal ($5MM, UFA)
F Mikhail Grabovski ($5MM, UFA)
D Jason Garrison ($4.6MM, UFA)
F David Perron ($3.75MM, UFA)
D Luca Sbisa ($3.6MM, UFA)
D Clayton Stoner ($3.25MM, UFA)
D Brayden McNabb ($1.7MM, UFA)
D Jonathon Merrill ($1.14MM, RFA)
F William Karlsson ($1MM, RFA)
D Colin Miller ($1MM, RFA)
D Deryk Engelland ($1MM, UFA)
G Calvin Pickard ($1MM, RFA)
F Jon Marchessault ($750K, UFA)
F Teemu Pulkkinen ($700K, RFA)
The Golden Knights will be looking to move as many of their players at the trade deadline as they can. Neal should be their biggest trade bait as many teams wouldn’t mind adding a goal-scorer right in time for the playoffs. The 30-year-old wing is coming off a 23-goal season in Nashville and has scored 165 goals in the last six seasons combined. The team hopes that playing on a top line should keep his scoring numbers up high so that his price increases at the perfect time, but a recent report that a wrist injury suffered during the playoffs last year is still affecting Neal and he will miss two to four weeks is concerning. The team also has high hopes it can move Perron. After putting up a career-high 28 goals in 2013-14, he has struggled with injuries but rebounded last year with an 18 goal season. If he can stay healthy and produce similar numbers, he might be worth a mid to late pick.
One key decision the team will have to make is what to do with Marchessault, who is coming off a 30-goal season a year ago in Florida. At $750K, he is a bargain for the next year, but if he can duplicate his numbers from last year, he would be in line for a big payday. Complicating the situation is that Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant is a big fan of the 26-year-old and was the head coach in Florida wlast year when Marchessault started his breakout season.
The team also has a number of restricted free agents who they will likely hold onto. While Pickard’s name is rarely mentioned in Vegas as he is the current backup, don’t be surprised if Pickard is penciled in as the goaltender of the future. The 25-year-old struggled with Colorado last year (although he did have one of the worst teams around him), but was a promising prospect before that. Miller is another who should be retained. The 24-year-old was a promising defender in Boston who was just beginning to get full-time work. He got into 61 games last year and showed quite a bit of promise. Karlsson should get a bottom line spot in the lineup. The 24-year-old is coming off a 25-point season and the team hopes he takes his game up a notch.
While Grabovski likely won’t see the ice ever in Las Vegas (freeing the team of his $5MM cap hit), Garrison is a defender who may prove to have some value if he can produce on one of the team’s top defensive lines. The 32-year-old struggled at times in Tampa Bay and his offensive numbers have declined in the past couple of years. McNabb is considered to be an excellent defender and should provide solid defense for Vegas. He missed a lot of time due to a broken collarbone injury he suffered last October, forcing the 26-year-old in and out of the lineup all season and he eventually lost his starting job at the end of the year, but should get regular minutes with the Golden Knights. Sbisa is another player who should get playing time in hopes the team can move him later this year. The 27-year-old blueliner was a solid defenseman, but few teams were interested in his $3.6MM pricetag.