Navigating the salary cap is one of the most important tasks for any general manager. Teams that can avoid complete chaos by walking a tightrope of players to deals that match their value (or offset future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those who do not see difficulties and changes the front office.
PHR will look at each NHL team and take a comprehensive look at their cap status ahead of the 2022-23 season. This will focus more on regular players on the roster versus those who may find themselves switching between the AHL and the NHL. All numbers max Courtesy of CapFri Friendly.
Maximum current hit: $81,489,166 (Below the $82.5 million upper limit)
Beners: 925 thousand dollars
Wright: $3.0625 million
Total: $3.9875 million
The second overall pick last year, Beners had a dominant year in Michigan before switching to the Pros where he averaged a point per game. He should become their number one spot for the next two seasons and with him, a long-term deal could be in the $8 million range on the table based on recent similar signings. With his expected turn, he should be hitting his bonuses this season which you will need to factor in in your cap plans. Wright slipped to fourth overall last month after being number one in the consensus for much of the past two seasons but was considered NHL ready. They will be able to calm him down which could result in some production going down initially although it shouldn’t affect his second decade too much unless he’s in a limited role longer than expected.
Signed up to 2022-23, non-beginner level
Dr William Burgin ($900,000, RFA)
F Ryan Donato ($1.2 million, UFA)
F Jonas Donskoy ($3.9 million, UFA)
Dr Vince Dunn ($4 million, RFA)
F Morgan Jake ($1.4 million, RFA)
F John Hayden ($750,000, UFA)
F Carson Coleman ($825,000, UFA)
J Martin Jones ($2 million, UFA)
F Cole Lind ($825,000, RFA)
Dr Carson Susi ($2.75 million, UFA)
Donskoi was one of Seattle’s best in expansion but struggled a lot last season, scoring just two goals in 75 games. Although he will likely recover somewhat, he will be hard pressed to get more than two-thirds of his current cost unless he has a career year. Geekie’s first full season in the NHL was a decent one in which he exonerated himself in a somewhat limited role while being their best player on the standoff point. Even in the lower sixth round, there is room for him to cross the $2 million mark next summer. Donato is back after not submitting a bid to avoid salary arbitration, and while he is nearing a career year, the fact that he hasn’t been able to do better than this on the open market doesn’t bode well for his prospects next summer. Lind, Kuhlman and Hayden will fight for the last front position or two on the list but are unlikely to charge more than their current rates unless one of them can take on a legitimate full-time role.
GM Ron Francis felt Dunn would be able to stand out more with a bigger role and he did just that, tying his career to points while setting a new standard in assists. Another such offer could push him to cross the $5 million mark next summer in his final season of RFA eligibility. Susi wasn’t able to drop into the top four in Seattle very often last year, but that didn’t stop him from showing off an improved attacking element in his game as he scored ten goals which is twice more than the previous two years combined. With the volume it also brings, repeat performance could allow it to create a solid market that could push its AAV into the $3 million range despite it being a third pairing piece which is an area teams often try to save money in. For Soucy, they might make an exception. Borgen had a recurring health scratcher last season which certainly wasn’t the first appearance the Kraken had been hoping for. He may have a similar role in the non-bidding region next summer while if he closes a spot in the third pair, a one-year deal with a small lift could be the path Seattle chooses.
Jones is exiting another quiet year with the Flyers and has failed to post a keeping ratio above 0.900 over the past four seasons. Despite that, Seattle picked him as a backup goalkeeper for the upcoming campaign, but at some point, it makes sense that another below-average performance could push him down near the $1 million mark next summer.
Signed up to 2023-24
April’s first season with Seattle saw him play a similar role to the one he played with the islanders, so it’s no surprise that his production is largely in line with his performance with New York. It’s not exactly $5.5 million in output, but if he can stay near the 20-goal mark in the next two seasons, he should be able to get fairly close to that in his next deal. Wennberg hasn’t quite been able to replicate the production he had with the Panthers, but his center position production is worth close to his current rate compared to the open market. However, with Benners and Wright, can he ever get those numbers back? That will determine a lot when it comes to his next decade whether it’s possible to get a small raise or a big drop.
Schultz comes from Washington where he’s coming off an aggressively calm year by his standards which made this commitment a bit surprising. He should have the opportunity to play a bigger role offensively which can help but nevertheless, he will be 34 when he begins his next contract, so it will be hard to expect a big boost on the horizon.
Driedger had a tough first season with Kraken even though he managed to save a 0.899 percentage, the best on the team. His second year will be even more challenging as the ACL tear he suffered at the World Championships will cost him the majority of next season. Suffice it to say, there will be a lot at stake in 2023-24 when it comes to determining his next contract.
Signed until 2024-25
After two quieter seasons with Tampa Bay, Gord had a golden opportunity with Seattle last season where he was their best position in all situations. While his best success came in a lesser role with Lightning, Gourde adapted well to being a rookie and finished second on the team in scoring. Again, Benners and Wright would eventually shorten his playing time, but for now, this contract is one of the best in Seattle. Tanev was limited to just 32 games last season due to a knee injury but was very effective during the first two months of the season. His contract has long been seen as above-market after Pittsburgh signed him for six years at his current price, but if he stays near the half-point mark per game while playing his usual strong defensive and physical game, the Kraken will do well with this. a necklace.
Signed to 2025-26 or longer
F Oliver Björkstrand ($5.4 million through 2025-26)
F Andrei Burakovsky ($5.5 million through 2026-27)
J Philip Grubauer ($5.9 million through 2026-27)
F Jared McCann ($5 million through 2026-27)
Dr Jimmy Oleksiak ($4.6 million through 2026-27)
F Jaden Schwartz ($5.5 million through 2025-26)
When Schwartz is healthy, he’s a winger capable of being in the top six and grossing nearly $5.5 million. The problem was his ability to stay healthy, or lack thereof. Seattle’s return from this deal hinges on him remaining in the lineup and production, and unfortunately for them, that’s unlikely to happen. This summer, Burakowski was brought over from Colorado. He’s exiting his career offensively (he would lead the Kraken in 11 points last season with 61 points) but it will be interesting to see if he can pull that off while playing against a stronger competition in a high role. This will go a long way towards determining if it is a basic piece or just another more priced suite.
Björkstrand came so cheaply from Columbus that he had to move it to fit the situation Johnny Goudreuaddition. He is also out of his career with 57 points and has already made some strides in his offensive game in the past few seasons. He should at least add some offensive pop to a team that struggled to score last season. McCann had long ago shown flashes of his top six rising spots but couldn’t put them together consistently. That changed in 2021-22, paving the way for them to sign him mid-season to extend that contract. He’s a candidate to move to the winger on a more regular basis as young first-round players make their way into the squad which will reduce the value of this contract, but if he’s hovering around the 25-goal mark, they’ll be fine with that contract.
Withheld payroll transactions
Not signed yet
The best value: Donato
Worst value: grouppower
I look ahead
Francis chose to emphasize the flexibility of the roof to expand, which led to some disappointing selections. He quickly spent a lot of that short-term flexibility bringing in a group of higher-priced wings that were unlikely to push them into the playoffs. Driedger will be able to migrate to LTIR which will mitigate any short-term issues in the event of casualties and since they are likely sellers, they should be able to finish under the upper limit to avoid any carry-over bonus.
But while there isn’t much flexibility in the short term, things don’t look so bad in the long term. There are a fair number of expiring contracts each season and with only two players signed for more than four years, their future cap is relatively clean although Beyners’ expected second contract will change that in the near future. As it should be for the sophomore team, their books are a lot cleaner than other books about the NHL.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.