By Adam Gretz
With the increase to the NHL's salary cap this offseason (all the way up to $64.3 million), there was also an increase in the salary floor, which is now up to $48.3 million, a number that is higher than the actual cap was during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. As of Monday, there were still seven teams that needed to reach the floor, according to CapGeek, the best salary cap resource anywhere on the Internet.
Here are the seven teams, the amount of money they need to spend to reach the floor (via CapGeek), and the number of spots they have remaining to fill out a 23-man roster:
- New York Islanders, five roster spots, $10.44 million
- Nashville Predators, three roster spots, $7.09 million
- Colorado Avalanche, one roster spot, $3.79 million
- Phoenix Coyotes, two roster spots, $2.78 million
- Winnipeg Jets, two roster spots, $2.45 million
- Ottawa Senators, three roster spots, $1.20 million
- Carolina Hurricanes, two roster spots, $591,667
The problem for some of these teams will be spending the necessary money on players that can actually make a positive impact, or an impact that will equal the financial commitment. What started as a weak free agent class has already been picked over, and whatever meat is remaining on the bones consists of ... well, let's just say less-than-attractive options.
The real winners in this are the second-, third- and fourth-tier free agents -- as well as the restricted free agents -- that could snag a larger salary than they normally would because these clubs have to spend a predetermined amount of money. Or the team that has an albatross contract it desperately wants to rid itself of (kind of like how the Chicago Blackhawks managed to find a taker -- the Florida Panthers -- in Brian Campbell's contract).
Moving past the Islanders, the Predators still have the most money to spend but also have the biggest restricted free agent remaining of the aforementioned clubs in defenseman Shea Weber. He's scheduled for an arbitration hearing in early August and will almost surely take up a large chunk of the remaining $7 million the Nashville front office is required to spend.
The Predators had a restricted free agency issue centered on the timing of their qualifying offers and needed to work out deals with Cal O'Reilly, Matt Halischuk, Chris Mueller, Nick Spaling and leading goal-scorer Sergei Kostitsyn. They managed to work out contracts with all of them last week to avoid any further complications, including the possibility the players could be granted unrestricted free agency. Those five contracts also helped narrow the gap to the salary floor.
Carolina is less than a $1 million away from reaching the floor with two spots to fill, which should be done with ease. Pretty much any two additions, even if they're minor league roster-filler, will jump the Hurricanes over the threshold, and the team still has to work out a deal with restricted free agent Brandon Sutter, who scored 14 goals a year ago.
The Jets should also have little trouble reaching the minimum as they still have restricted free agents Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian and Ben Maxwell. The Coyotes and Avalanche have restricted free agents of their own to sign, while the Senators have to look outside the organization for its remaining $1.2 million.