Which teams are in the best shape from a cap perspective moving forward? I will go team by team, scouring over their current payroll structures in search for the biggest albatross. I'll grade them in the process. Here is the first batch of 10.
Grade: A , They have signed Getzlaf and Perry to a great deals, some of the best in the league. A lot of big deals will be coming off of the books. Cali will attract big names. They may have a down year this year, but will likely bounce back strong next year.
The Albatross - Kunitz is the only remotely close and his deal is not completely awful.
Grade: C, Todd White for 3 more years at 2.3, 2.45, 2.6 isnâ•˙t a cap buster, but is a bad deal. Their major problem will be attracting talent. They have no good young players to get established stars. They may take a couple dumps out of desperation.
The Albatross - A combined 8.25 million over the next 4 years on Hainsey and Enstromâ•œ yea â•˛puck moving defendersâ•ˇ have cashed in.
Shape: A, Boston is one of the most well constructed teams from a contract perspective IMO. They will pay Phil Kessel this year, but were probably not expecting the payday David Krejci will be earning. Tim Thomas will make Manny Fernandezâ•˙s money next year.
The Albatross - The only thing that hurts them is Patrice Bergeronâ•˙s deal at 5+ for 3 more years. Heâ•˙s well worth it, but he has had the Duvies for a few years. I will be interesting to see if they have problems with Kessel + Krejci, but I think they are in good enough position to handle it.
Shape: C, Although they have lost Briere, Drury, and Campbell in recent years, they are currently in okay shape. Lydman and Tallinder got paid after their cup run. They should be able to resign Stafford and Connelly. Most their deals seem a little high, but overall, they need to keep the talent happy that they have since they have a hard time attractive UFAs
The Albatross - Jochan Hecht is 33 and is on the hook for 3.5 for the next 4 years.
Shape: B, The Canes donâ•˙t have too many long term high money deals and are pretty well balanced. They signed their franchise player at a pretty reasonable rate. No money is coming off this summer so this will likely be the 09-10 Canes also.
The Albatross â•" Brindâ•˙Amour at 3 million for 2 more years is the least attractive thing I see and that is not that bad when he is healthy. Heâ•˙s up in years though, at 37 it will be hard to earn that money.
Shape: A, The Flames have locked up their core at a reasonable price. Iginla, Langcow, Phaneuf, Regehr and Kipper are all signed longterm and that is a pretty good core. If they want him they will be able to keep Cammaleri, or another UFA of a similar mold.
The Albatross â•" Cory Sarich at 3.6 for 4 more years looks pretty bad, but youâ•˙ll find worse on other teams.
Shape: A, The Hawks need to make a big push in the next two years because this team will look different after they need to resign Kane and Toews. Havlatâ•˙s and Khabibulanâ•˙s departure will open up a lot of cash to sign their own. Duncan Keith is currently playing on one of the best deals in the league, but will want a new one in the same offseason as Toews and Kane.
The Albatross â•" Campbell at 7+ is an awful lot of cash for a mediocre defender. The next two years will be the best chance for a run, unless they can continue to develop young players. It would be interesting to see if they would consider trading Khabi in the middle of the race to replenish the farm system.
Shape: A, In the short term the Jackets are in great shape. The influx of young cheap deals will mean our best window is within the next 3 years. With bigger deals rolling off, cash will free up for our own. Nash will be signed next offseason for a lifetime deal and if they are smart they will load the cash up in the first year, to free up budget space for Brassard, Voracek, Mason, and Filatov later on.
The Albatross â•" Even though he has played well Iâ•˙m not sure how many people would touch Commodore for 4 more years of 3.5+.
Shape: D, For a team that is not currently a playoff team, their current salary structure will make it difficult to move. They locked up Stasny, which will basically replace Sakic, but they will find it difficult to upgrade in goal. They would probably be very interested in Leclaire.
The Albatross- There are many to choose from. Ryan Smyth at 6.25 for the next 4 years is a bad one. Heâ•˙ll be 36 at the end of that deal. Scott Hannan at 4.5 for 3 years is not ideal, neither is Foote, Clark and Salei at all over 3 million dollars. Yes that is 14 million for Hannan, Foote, Clark, and Salei, disgusting, most of that will be off in two years though and that is how they squeak up to a D.
Shape: B, They have some very good offensive players signed for very good prices. They will be able to use Zubov and Sydorâ•˙s dollars to rework their blue line.
The Albatross â•" Who knows what will happen with the 4 year 16 million contract of Sean Avery. One of the single worst slip ups in recent memory.