The dust is starting to settle from the NHL free agency, although some big names – mostly Nazim Qadri – are still available.
We’ve also seen some bargains; As always, many of those moves involved salary dumping. While more deals and signings will happen, many teams are facing a major problem.
According to CapFri Friendly, nine NHL teams prepare to spend above the salary cap in 2022-2023. With LTIR, however, not all of these teams are in trouble…at least for now, but these teams will be keeping a close eye on their cap this season, and will need to tackle the numbers if they intend to make any additions to their roster.
The acquisition of Shea Weber has been a catalyst for an organization that cannot print money fast enough. They were forced to ditch Max Pasuritti and throw Dylan Coughlan to the Carolina Hurricanes for nothing, except for the nearly $8 million in relief she gave the team.
Unfortunately for Vegas, they haven’t come out of their cover crunch yet. Already exceeding the salary cap (although they would be compliant due to Whipper’s relief), the Golden Knights only had two-thirds of the signed roster. They still have some meaningful RFAs (Nicolas Haig, Keegan Kolisar, Nicholas Roy) to sign, and they have no room to do an in-season deal, unless money is dumped again…and talent. The clock is ticking in Vegas so this cover nightmare can’t be avoided.
The main reason the pilots missed Johnny Goudreau was because they literally didn’t have the money.
Flyers are still in for a salary cap problem, with an expected cap hitting over the roof according to CapFri Friendly. The biggest move Philadelphia could take to give itself plenty of room to move forward is to trade James Van Remsdyke. The 33-year-old is in the final season of his contract paying $7 million a year, and is headed to unrestricted free agency next summer. Van Rimsdijk’s transfer may involve salary retention, but he can help the team tied to playoffs, and the pilots can build futures contracts in return.
Ryan Ellis’ acquisition move could help solve Philadelphia’s problem should he continue in the LTIR, but if Ellis is fit to play, Philadelphia will need to make a move.
Any dream of adding a player like Pierre-Luc Dubois to Montreal would need to pay the salary in reverse, potentially shackled by general manager Kent Hughes if another deal is needed.
The Canadians are standing against the rooftop and only a few hundred thousand are left. The only RFA to be signed was recently acquired Kirby Dach. Montreal will gain a lot of flexibility after this season with Jonathan Drouin, Jake Allen, Paul Byron and Evgeny Dadonov on the verge of becoming unrestricted free agents. These players total $167,755,000 in the space that will become available.
Much of that will go to Cole Caufield, but the Montreal roof issues seem temporary. The main question mark is the future of Carey Price. Until a long-term understanding of his situation is clear, the team will need to be wary of his $10.5 million salary.
Sitting with nearly $1.5 million in cover space, Kings still has business to do so off-season, specifically in signings with Shawn Dorsey and Michael Anderson. It would be impossible for Los Angeles to sign what they have left. One way to find a temporary room is to bury young, mature players who remain exempt from the exemption in minors.
Quinton Byfield, Rasmus Kupari, Jordan Spence and Jacob Moverare all fit the bill, but at least a few of those players are in Los Angeles’ immediate plans and could help them at the NHL level.
There’s a reason JT Miller’s name continues to appear in trade rumours.
It’s a combination of the fact that his value as a top scorer with 99 has never been higher, and Vancouver could desperately use $5.25 million in cap space, not to mention the assets he’d return instead of losing him to free agency for nothing. next summer.
Vancouver also risks seeing captain Bo Horvat exit the FA alongside Miller, although Horvat is likely to sign an extension. Currently, the Canucks cap is over $2.75 million, but it will use Michael Ferland’s LTIR mitigation to stay committed. It looks like Vancouver’s main business is an inevitable outcome this year unless they are caught up in a watershed. Next, we’ll see what Patrick Alvin made in his first full season as GM in Vancouver. Will he hold on and hope for the best? Or will he trade off an early exit from the final for future success?
No discussion of crunches would be complete without the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kyle Dupas has sold several draft picks, including first-round picks, to ease his cap in recent years.
It happened again in the draft when the Leafs fell in the second round to dump Peter Mrazek to Chicago. Despite the move, Toronto is still over $1.5 million, and Rasmus Sanden still has to sign.
There are some moves that seem likely during the season. First, if Timothy Lillegren and Sanden turn out as hoped, Justin Hall and his expiring $2 million contract could quickly become depreciable.
Up front, Alex Kerfoot could be a mid-season trading piece, although the 10-team no-trade clause could slow things down. If Dubas is hoping to add by the deadline, that means getting rid of the salary. Toronto always finds a way, and it would be a shock if they didn’t work again.
Relief comes through LTIR via Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith, but Edmonton Oilers still have the flexibility to make the moves they’d like to push to Connor McDavid and his partners. over the top. Notably, three RFAs are in line with the new contracts at Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi. The trio made up a large part of Edmonton’s secondary scoring last season. Duncan Keith’s retirement was a huge boost, but apart from Jack Campbell, this team doesn’t seem to have significantly improved over the team that Colorado shocked in the conference final. In particular, Ken Holland is still in the blueline upgrade market. For now, money remains tight despite the LTIR dilution.
The islanders needed improvement in the off-season. the problem? There was little money available to spend. Names like Nazim Qadri and Johnny Goudreau have certainly been of interest. New York, however, does not have room. They currently have about $11 million available, but they still need to sign Noah Dobson, Alex Romanov, and Kieffer Bellows. Fans of the islanders hope for a relaxing season, but the list remains unchanged. General Manager Lou Lamoriello needed to do something, but before that was possible, he would have to forego the salary. Things could get even worse next season with Matthew Barzal entering a restricted free agency.
There is a cost that comes with winning and that Tampa Bay Lightning pays. They have seven players – Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Nick Ball, Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergeyev, Eric Cernak, and Andrei Vasilevsky – who have been locked up until at least 2026-2027. It gives Lightning essence but also limits the instant moves they can make. Add to the big contracts they pay Stephen Stamkos and Victor Hedman, and things are tight in Tampa Bay.
Currently, Tampa has more than $7 million over the cap. Fortunately, they’ll get most of that back through Brent Seabrook’s LTIR, but he’s still out of action before opening day. After the 2022-23 campaign, Lightning had six players assigned to an unrestricted free agency totaling roughly $13 million, but roughly half of that would immediately disappear into the Cernak, Cirelli and Sergachev extensions. Tampa has an almost complete slate that will still be at odds, but going forward, Tampa will need to lower the cost with every move.