There are seven teams sitting below the NHL’s $48.3 million salary cap floor including: the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders. Most of the aforementioned franchises are less than $6 million away from reaching the floor, with Nashville and the Islanders sitting around $9-10.5 million out. The Predators shouldn’t have much trouble reaching the floor once they lock up Shea Weber to a new deal and fill out the rest of their roster. The Islanders on the other hand, with approximately $37.8 million currently committed, have some work to do.
You know you’re in salary cap trouble when the $2.204 million owed to a bought out Alexei Yashin is being relied upon to help reach the floor. Once again, Mike Milbury’s greatest mistake actually provides some value to the Islanders, embarrassing as it is. Only two players (Mark Streit, $4.1 million and Rick Dipietro, $4.5 million) on the current Islanders roster will earn north of $4 million next season, making up nearly 23% of the team’s total payroll. Islanders’ GM Garth Snow tried to make a splash in the free agency game by trading for Christian Ehrhoff’s rights prior to July 1st, but quickly flipped them to the Buffalo Sabres, and we all know how that played out.
We had similar concerns with the Panthers reaching the floor leading up to free agency, but as we learned there’s really nothing a Dale Tallon over-spending spree can’t fix. Tallon infamously botched several qualifying offers to RFAs a couple of years ago in Chicago, which led to paying above market value to retain a number of key pieces of the Blackhawks eventual Stanley Cup championship team in 2009-10. Tallon hit free agency with a purpose and took the Panthers above the floor by signing several notable free agents and even bringing in his old buddy Brian Campbell and his $7 million+ cap hit via trade.
So we ask, what’s the hold up, Garth Snow?
The Isles should get a bit of boost once they reach agreements with a handful of RFAs like Josh Bailey, Ty Wishart, Blake Comeau, and others. They could also get some relief if youngsters like Nino Niederreiter and Calvin de Haan can crack the roster out of camp, although you’d hope they don’t make it for the sole purpose of the team avoiding any trouble with the league. Kent Wilson looked at a number of roster candidates that could help teams reach the floor, several of whom Snow might want to take a crack at acquiring through trade.
Guys like Brian Rolston and Mike Komisarek could probably be plucked from their current teams at a discount, and their respective $5.062 million and $4.5 million salaries would go a long way to getting the Isles over the hump. Otherwise, they’re looking at handing out inflated contracts to the likes of Bryan McCabe, Scott Hannan or Sergei Samsonov all in the name of hitting the floor.
This is a big summer for the Islanders, whose new arena plans are set to go to a vote on August 1st. A proper roster that meets the NHL’s salary cap obligations would probably be a good start for a franchise that’s looking to shake the
“fledgling” “struggling” tag. We know that the Islanders WILL meet the floor, we just don’t know when or how. It’s your move, Garth Snow.
With salary cap data from CapGeek