Salary Cap Outlook – The Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins - USATSI_7914326

The NHL’s salary cap system was put in place after the 2004-05 lockout to try to even the playing field between teams and eliminate over-spending.

As you know, over-spending still happens, and there are still teams (Boston, Chicago, LA, etc.) who are far superior to others (Edmonton, Florida, Buffalo, etc.).

The cap has virtually just called for more creative long-term contracts when trying to land, or keep, a marque free agent (think Shea Weber, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) and shorter, small contracts for mediocre players.

Some teams struggle to hit the cap floor, while some struggle to stay under the max. Let’s take a look at each teams cap situation for the coming 2014-15 season, as well as the 2015-16 season.

This will be written as a four part series over the next week, looking at one division’s teams at a time.

*All figures according to CapGeek.com, with the Salary Cap being $69 million*

*2015-16 cap space does not include current unsigned RFA’s*

Part 1: Eastern Conference- The Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 21 (12 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $69,809,143
Overages: $4,779,500
Cap Space: -$809,143
RFA’s Remaining: Torey Krug, Reilly Smith
Players to LTIR: Marc Savard

Overview: Yikes, Boston is in trouble. Being $809,143 over the cap, with two young pieces in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith both unsigned doesn’t bode well for the Bruins. Deals are going to have to be made before next season, potentially Johnny Boychuk and his $3.3 million salary? One form of relief will come in placing Marc Savard and his $4 million salary on LTIR on the last day of training camp. It will be interesting to see what they do.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 10 (6 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie)
Cap Payroll: $46,993,810
Cap Space: $22,006,190
RFA’s: Jordan Caron, Justin Florek, Dougie Hamilton, Niklas Svedberg
UFA’s: David Krejci, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Carl Soderberg, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski
Players to LTIR: Marc Savard

Overview: Not good again. For those of you who are wondering, the Bruins will only be roughly $5 million under the cap floor with only 10 players in 2015-16. Some teams are around that mark with a full roster. It certainly has cost Boston a lot of money to retain most of the Stanley Cup team from a few years ago, and now they are paying for it. With only $22 million to spend and Krejci, Hamilton, Soderberg, and Boychuk all deserving significant raises from their current salaries (they could easily take up ¾ of that space), Boston has it in tough.

Buffalo Sabres

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 23 (14 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $57,619,166
Overages: None
Cap Space: $11,380,834
RFA’s Remaining: None
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: After a busy offseason the Buffalo Sabres’ roster appears to be all but set. There still may be some players called up, such as Mikhail Grigorenko or Nikita Zadorov, but regardless, their salaries wouldn’t drastically alter the salary situation anyways. With a full roster and still a little over $11 million in space, Buffalo is in a good position heading into next season.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 15 (9 forwards, 6 defensemen, 0 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $37,498,333
Cap Space: $31,501,667
RFA’s: Brian Flynn
UFA’s: Chris Stewart, Drew Stafford, Torrey Mitchell, Patrick Kaleta, Andrej Meszaros, Michal Neuvirth, Jhonas Enroth
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Buffalo will have a lot of money to burn on only a few players, meaning they could try to land a few solid free agents. By no means will they be a destination for top players, but, with a nice mix of young talent and NHL ready players, don’t be surprised to see them land someone you weren’t expecting. Out of their list of free agents, Buffalo’s only dire need will be to decide on who their goalie is going forward and lock up one of Neuvirth or Enroth; although, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Buffalo try to acquire another goalie before then. With most of the core locked up for the 2015-16 season and $31 million in cap space, Buffalo is once again in a good position.

Detroit Red Wings

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 21 (13 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $60,979,545
Overages: $3,017,500
Cap Space: $8,020,455
RFA’s Remaining: Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Detroit’s roster will be nearly set once they come to terms with Tatar and DeKeyser, both of which are not close to happening, according to GM Ken Holland. Daniel Alfredsson is the only remaining UFA that might be back (if he chooses to continue his career), but that shouldn’t be a problem financially. As per usual, Detroit will be pushing the upper limits of the cap.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 15 (9 forwards, 5 defensemen, 1 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $50,957,879
Cap Space: $18,042,121
RFA’s: Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Jurco, Brendan Smith
UFA’s: Danny Cleary, Jonas Gustavsson
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: With the most of the core locked up, excluding maybe Nyquist and Smith, Detroit is in a good position heading into next offseason. Signing all their own free agents shouldn’t be a problem with the $18 million they have to spend. Who knows, Detroit may even turn back the clock and land a top free agent.

Florida Panthers

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 23 (13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 3 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $62,573,708
Overages: None
Cap Space: $6,426,292
RFA’s Remaining: Jimmy Hayes
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Florida Panthers are spending $62 million this year, I repeat the Panthers are spending $62 million this year. Looking at the names on their roster, spending that much is hard to believe, but, Florida is a team that has to overpay to acquire any bit of talent, so I guess it’s understandable. With that said, Florida is in a good spot, having a full roster signed, but they still need to come to terms with 2014 1st overall pick Aaron Ekblad and RFA Jimmy Hayes.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 14 (7 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $43,259,542
Cap Space: $25,740,458
RFA’s: Nick Bjudstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Alex Petrovic, Colby Robak
UFA’s: Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky, Sean Bergenheim, Dan Ellis
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Panthers will have more than enough money to spend to resign their RFA’s (all of whom will play a big role going forward) and a few of their UFA’s if they choose to do so. Most of the players who will be UFA’s are not part of the core going forward and will likely be let go, with Florida testing their luck on the market.

Montreal Canadiens

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 21 (13 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $53,848,333
Overages: None
Cap Space: $15,151,667
RFA’s Remaining: P.K. Subban, Lars Eller
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The $15 million in cap space is deceiving at first look because, well, it will be more like $2-3 million by the time both Subban and Eller are signed. Both players are scheduled to have arbitration hearings, with Eller likely landing near $3 million a season and Subban easily getting between $7-9 million. Subban is an elite defenseman and Montreal was lucky that no team tried to force their hand, similar to what Philadelphia did to Nashville in signing Shea Weber to his gigantic offer sheet a few summers ago. All in all, once both players are signed (and yes I expect them to be) the Canadiens will have a full roster, with a few million left under the cap.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 13 (9 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie)
Cap Payroll: $45,783,333
Cap Space: $23,216,667
RFA’s: Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Michael Bournival, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi
UFA’s: Manny Malhotra, Mike Weaver, Peter Budaj
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Almost every single one of Montreal’s young core players’ contracts are expiring next offseason. All of the RFA’s will be back and in Galchenyuk and Gallagher’s cases, it may not come cheaply. The bridge contract has turned out to hurt them with Subban, so maybe they shy away from that type of deal this time around. Re-signing all the RFA’s might cost upwards of $12 million, so there will still be money left for Montreal to try and add some pieces via free agency if need be.

Ottawa Senators

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 22 (13 forwards, 8 defensemen, 1 goalie)
Cap Payroll: $52,658,333
Overages: None
Cap Space: $16,341,667
RFA’s Remaining: Robin Lehner
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: Long thought to be one of the NHL teams who’s owners are not willing to spend, the Sens have a full roster (excluding Robin Lehner who will eventually be re-signed), and somehow still have $16 million left in cap space. Look for Ottawa to potentially be a team who tries to cash in on the Bruins or Blackhawks when they have to clear space for virtually nothing in return.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 12 (6 forwards, 6 defensemen, 0 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $33,181,667
Cap Space: $35,818,333
RFA’s: Mika Zibanejad, Alex Chiasson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Mark Borowiecki
UFA’s: Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Erik Condra, Marc Methot, Craig Anderson
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: With almost $36 million in cap, the Sens will certainly have the room to re-sign any and all of their free agents, however it remains to be seen if they will actually have the money to do so. Convincing Bobby Ryan to stay in Ottawa with the lack of funding and talent currently on the team will be extremely difficult, so he could be a trade candidate this season.

Tampa Bay Lightning

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 24 (13 forwards, 9 defensemen, 2 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $70,877,927
Overages: $231,200
Cap Space: -$1,877,927
RFA’s Remaining: None
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: After an extremely busy (and expensive) offseason, GM Steve Yzerman and the Lightning are currently over the cap by almost $2 million. That is, however, with 24 players, so expect at least one defenseman to be sent down, possibly two. The other option for Yzerman is to make a trade, possibly Eric Brewer and his $3.8 million salary to a team with cap space. Work needs to be done to sort out the financials, but this team is much improved from last season and the roster is all but set.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 16 (10 forwards, 6 defensemen, 0 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $56,871,310
Cap Space: $12,128,690
RFA’s: Brett Connolly, Richard Panik, Mark Barberio, Andrej Sustr
UFA’s: Brendan Morrow, Eric Brewer, Ben Bishop, Evgeni Nabokov
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: With 16 players under contract, the core of the Lightning will still be in place, with only a few spots left to fill. If Bishop has a season that resembles anything like his year last year, he will be in line for a heavy increase in salary from his $2.3 million he currently makes. Bishop could pull between $5-6 million a season, leaving only $6-7 million for Tampa to fill out the other roster spots. It will be tricky financially, but Yzerman should be able to work around the cap.

Toronto Maple Leafs

2014-15 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 22 (16 forwards, 5 defensemen, 1 goalie)
Cap Payroll: $62,328,000
Overages: $450,000
Cap Space: $6,672,000
RFA’s Remaining: Jake Gardiner, James Reimer
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Leafs’ roster is nearly complete, having 21 players signed. The big question marks are what Jake Gardiner will eventually sign for (I think two-years, $5-6 million) and what James Reimer will pull in after his arbitration hearing? The general thought is both players will combine to take up about $5-6 million of the remaining $6.7 million in cap space.

2015-16 Season:

Total players under NHL contract: 12 (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, 0 goalies)
Cap Payroll: $47,152,500
Cap Space: $21,847,500
RFA’s: Nazem Kadri, Carter Ashton, Jonathan Bernier
UFA’s: Mike Santorelli, David Booth, Petri Kontiola, Colton Orr, Troy Bodie, Trevor Smith, Cody Franson
Players on LTIR: None

Overview: The Leafs will need to fill quite a few spots with almost $22 million in cap space. If Bernier has a solid season he will go for over $4 million a year, same goes for Kadri, with the others all being expendable players. That would leave roughly $14 million for the Leafs to use to fill out the roster. Cody Franson is a solid offensive defenseman, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him dealt or sign with another team if hits free agency in 2015.

Salary Cap Outlooks for the Atlantic | Metropolitan | Central | Pacific

Written by Greg Stamper, who can be found on twitter @g_stamp91.

7 Comments

  1. I_am_I

    July 25, 2014 at 1:38 am

    I have a question. Does the 2015-2016 season cap space remaining take into account this season’s RFAs yet to be signed? Montreal for instance has ~$23M next off season but does the $10-$12M for Eller and Subban still have to come out of it? Also teams ought to get a few million more for rising cap as well shouldn’t they?

    • Greg Stamper

      July 25, 2014 at 8:58 am

      No it does not. I used CapGeek’s way of breaking it all down. So, Montreal will only have around 11 million next season, but will have more roster spots filled.

      And yes the cap will likely rise, but I can’t say that as it’s speculation at this point.

  2. I_am_I

    July 25, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Nice summary, it is really interesting to see how the teams are managing the cap and which ones are going to still be doing interesting things.

  3. Greg Stamper

    July 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

    You’re welcome.

    Glad you liked it!

  4. jeffersoooooon

    July 25, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Tampa bay will put Ohlund on LTIR, so that’s minus 3,6 million.

  5. beauchamp

    July 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Regarding the Canadiens, I read “Subban is an elite defenseman and Montreal was lucky that no team tried to force their hand, similar to what Philadelphia did to Nashville in signing Shea Weber to his gigantic offer sheet a few summers ago.”

    That ignores the fact that no team could do that once Subban filed for arbitration.

    • Greg Stamper

      July 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Yes, and before that anyone could have.