NHL Teams Ranked By Cap Space

Jonathan Willis
August 22 2009 02:00PM

Holland

The fact that the salary cap has changed the NHL landscape is something that anyone who follows hockey is constantly reminded of. For the Western Canadian teams, that salary cap was once something worth fighting for; but a number of factors – most importantly, the recovery of the Canadian dollar – have changed it from a blessing to a curse. None of this is to say that NHL teams don’t need it. The league will always have small markets, and they need to be protected – both by measures like a salary cap and by revenue sharing*. The league will also always have the New York Rangers, and for the good of all Glen Sather needs the restraint.

With teams like Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton all relatively close to the salary cap, it’s easy to get the impression that every team is battling cap issues. That turns out to not to be the case; what follows is a list of cap space available to each club, rounded to the nearest 100,000 (courtesy of CapGeek.com):

  • New York Islanders: 18.7MM
  • Nashville: 15.3MM
  • Phoenix: 14.1MM
  • Tampa Bay: 11.9MM
  • Columbus: 11.5MM
  • Dallas: 10.5MM
  • Atlanta: 10.4MM
  • Los Angeles: 9.4 MM
  • Colorado: 9.0MM
  • St. Louis: 8.8MM
  • Florida: 7.7MM
  • New Jersey: 5.2MM
  • Minnesota: 4.2MM
  • Anaheim: 4.1MM
  • Buffalo: 3.3MM
  • Vancouver: 2.7MM
  • New York Rangers: 2.5MM
  • Montreal: 2.2MM
  • Carolina: 2.2MM
  • Toronto: 2.2MM
  • Pittsburgh: 1.8MM
  • Calgary: 1.4MM
  • Chicago: 1.4MM
  • Washington: 1.3MM
  • Edmonton: 1.2MM
  • Boston: 1.1MM
  • Philadelphia: 0.4MM
  • San Jose: -0.3MM
  • Ottawa: -0.6MM
  • Detroit: -1.0MM

Of note:

Nashville has a limited amount of payroll, but they will need to add at least one more defenseman (they have six NHL’ers, and the bottom three is a rather pedestrian group (Kevin Klein, Alex Sulzer and Wade Belak). On top of that, Patric Hornqvist (7 points in 28 NHL games) is penciled in as the second-line LW.

Columbus has been connected rumours-wise to virtually every offensive defenseman available; they’ll need to add a puck-mover at some point. Given the Howson-Edmonton connection, it’s a fairly easy leap to guess they’ll add someone from the Oilers’ stable.

Dallas could also probably use a defenseman; their forward combinations aren’t bad but the loss of Zubov to injury was bad news last year and his departure in favour of the KHL is worse news this year.

Dany Heatley’s dream of playing for the San Jose Sharks is all but impossible unless the Sharks somehow manage to cut salary.

I, like everybody else, am firmly convinced of the genius of Ken Holland, but the Red Wings signing Todd Bertuzzi and Jason Williams pushes them over the cap, and they’ll need to address that before the season starts.

* Tony Gallagher, a columnist who covers the Vancouver Canucks, displayed a delicious blind spot for irony when he recently complained that the NHL’s revenue sharing system was helping the Canucks lose games. It’s ironic because less than a decade ago, the Canucks were described as “losing millions”, “in flux” and Brian Burke was saying positive things about only losing 12 million dollars per season. I think it takes an almost total ignorance of the past twenty years for anyone who covers a team in Western Canada to argue against protection measures for small markets.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Fiveandagame
August 22 2009, 02:12PM
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When looking at those numbers there are a chunk of western conference teams we should totally finish ahead just based on salary and the quality of players on the team.

I mean we can be grossly overpaying everyone on the team, can we?

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#2 Fiveandagame
August 22 2009, 02:13PM
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should have read:

"I mean we CAN'T be grossly overpaying everyone on the team, can we?"

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#3 Bettman4pm
August 22 2009, 02:18PM
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It is very ironic that the highest spending team in the NHL prior to the lockout in Detroit has been able it seems to mange the cap better than a former 'budget' team like the Oilers have. Gallagher is a homer and a hack.

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#4 ScubaSteve
August 22 2009, 02:34PM
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it’s a fairly easy leap to guess they’ll add someone from the Oilers’ stable.

If you think this could be true, who do you think moves? And who do the Oil ask for in return? I would imagine/hope:

Tom Gilbert + Nilsson (Salary Dump)

for

RJ Umberger (who seems to have lost a C job there, he looks to be behind Brassard, Vermette and Pahlsson on the depth chart)

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#5 Archaeologuy
August 22 2009, 02:41PM
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It seems that winning and spending are fairly well connected, except for a few examples. On one hand there are the Oilers and the Sens, who spend and couldnt win enough to get into the playoffs. On the other hand there are New Jersey and Nashville, who dont spend as much but keep winning. Pretty hard,with breakdowns like that, to convince GMs that saving their money is the way to go.

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#6 Archaeologuy
August 22 2009, 02:49PM
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ScubaSteve wrote:

Tom Gilbert + Nilsson (Salary Dump) for RJ Umberger

So you think that trading a 45 point defenseman for a 46 point Forward is a good deal, but only after the Oil sweeten the pot with Nilsson?

I think a 45 point defenseman who wasnt even getting #1 PP minutes for most of the year is a pretty good asset that should net the Oil something better than RJ Umberger.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
August 22 2009, 02:51PM
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@ ScubaSteve:

I don't see Columbus moving Umberger just yet; they aren't exactly blessed with an overabundance of offensive talent.

I'm just spitballing here, but I wonder if a Gilbert for Klesla + Moore trade might work. I'm not sure what I think of that idea.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
August 22 2009, 02:53PM
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Also, looking at Nashville's depth chart, I see a definite potential destination for one of Nilsson/Schremp.

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#9 DangerMan
August 22 2009, 03:00PM
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Nashville and Tampa Bay look like decnet dumping grounds to place a player like Nilsson.

I still think Buffalo and Edmonton could be good trading partners if Regier has forgiven Edmonton for the Vanek fiasco.

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#10 Hemmertime
August 22 2009, 03:33PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I’m just spitballing here, but I wonder if a Gilbert for Klesla + Moore trade might work. I’m not sure what I think of that idea.

Klesla UFA at the end of the season, and what is Moore's top potential? Id bet the best Moore ever gets is as good as Gilbert is now. I see this trade as a dump, and a deal that doesn't help us. The only way we should move Gilbert is for another long term contract (Gilbert is locked in through 2014) or for scoring help on our top 2 lines (Frolov caliber or better). Otherwise why trade a D who had 33-45 pts in first two full seasons? Would be a waste and a horrible deal.

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#11 jeanshorts
August 22 2009, 03:33PM
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Tony Gallagher is also the same guy who wrote a very insightful article on how the NHL fixed the playoffs in order for the Blackhawks to advance over the Canucks. It was riveting to say the least.

Well, at least the Oilers only have 600,000 more on the books then the cup champions. That's got to be a good sign right? RIGHT?????? Wait how the hell do the Rangers have more cap space than the Oilers? Do they only have 12 guys under contract?

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#12 ScubaSteve
August 22 2009, 03:37PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

You're probably right, I should've added a first rounder and/or an NHL ready D man from CBJ. I meant to, but hit post too early, then got too lazy to post again.

Jonathan Willis wrote:

Gilbert for Klesla + Moore

You mean CBJ to sign Dominic Moore then trade him here? Or what Moore are you talking about?

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#13 ScubaSteve
August 22 2009, 03:39PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Wait how the hell do the Rangers have more cap space than the Oilers? Do they only have 12 guys under contract?

13 skaters and 2 goalies, according to nhlnumbers.com

You're not far off.

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#14 Librarian Mike
August 22 2009, 03:40PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Tony Gallagher is also the same guy who wrote a very insightful article on how the NHL fixed the playoffs in order for the Blackhawks to advance over the Canucks. It was riveting to say the least.

I just googled him, and does he ever look like David Caruso. That can't be a good sign...

"There's a conspiracy against the Canucks...*puts sunglasses on*...and it's just gone to overtime."

Creepy looking dude, him...

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#15 patty
August 22 2009, 03:52PM
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Good stuff as usual JW. It would be nice to see how many players each team has under contract (to see the average $$/player). If the Rags only have 15 guys under contract, they're in much deeper trouble than a team at the cap with everyone signed.

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#16 Jonathan Willis
August 22 2009, 04:02PM
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@ ScubaSteve:

John Moore, their latest first round pick.

Alternately, what about something like Filatov + Modin for Gilbert + Nilsson?

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#17 Fiveandagame
August 22 2009, 04:46PM
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@ ScubaSteve: John Moore, their latest first round pick. Alternately, what about something like Filatov + Modin for Gilbert + Nilsson?

Why would CBJ make that trade? Filatov is a is a Blue Chip prospect and Modin is very solid. and Conversely why do the Oilers need another tiny offensive prospect unless they were going to flip in a trade right away? Filatov also makes more that Nilsson at only 19yrs old.

This is a bad trade for everybody.

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#18 Archaeologuy
August 22 2009, 04:51PM
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@ ScubaSteve: I think if the goal was to dump salary then for sure a 1st rounder would need to be taken, but then I would be pitching the trade to a team I feel more comfortable would suck next year, like Florida or the Islanders.

@ Jonathan Willis: I wonder if the Blue Jackets feel they have enough young talent to part with Filatov already. That trade would provide talent (unproven however) and veteran presence. It would also shed salary. I still wonder what a guy like Gilbert could fetch in the right situation. I was actually surprised that he wasnt included in the proposed Heatley trade considering how terrible Murray has managed his offensive defensemen.

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#19 cableguy
August 22 2009, 05:02PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ ScubaSteve: John Moore, their latest first round pick. Alternately, what about something like Filatov + Modin for Gilbert + Nilsson?

sweet christ willis, i'll have some of whatever you were smoking when this was posted

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#20 Hemmertime
August 22 2009, 05:29PM
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@ cableguy:

You seriously undervalue Gilbert, how many D have put up .5 Pts prt game through first 2 seasons? Very few

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#21 Jonathan Willis
August 22 2009, 06:00PM
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What I was thinking:

Columbus desperately needs a puck-moving defenseman. Gilbert fits, and he's signed long-term at a reasonable rate.

Modin's been injured for two years running; his point totals are 12 in 23 games and 25 in 50 games that last two years.

From an Oilers perspective this would be a salary dump with an opportunity to add a big forward.

All of that said, I don't think it would fly. Filatov's a prize in CBJ and he doesn't fit the Oilers needs ideally.

Just spitballing ;)

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#22 I Am The Law
August 22 2009, 06:37PM
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Here to kill the discussion of possible trades is something that needs to be pointed out. Six of the seven teams that have more than $10 million in cap space left, are suffering from ownership problems. Only Columbus isn't riddled with ownership issues.

This seems to me to say that teams will spend pretty close to the cap, and will be lumped closely together, but for ownership problems.

You'd think someone at the NHLPA would be all over this, and helping to get ownership settled as much as possible to get those dollars flowing to players and not to lawyers.

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#23 Pouzar
August 22 2009, 08:24PM
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@ I Am The Law:

If over half the teams spend beyond the mid-point then the players have to pay a good chunk of their money back to the owners via escrow. For what it's worth, the actual salary cap is 48.8 million. Some of those teams spend closer to the floor to qualify for revenue sharing.

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#24 cableguy
August 22 2009, 08:36PM
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@ Hemmertime:

filitov is considered by many to be one of the top offensive prospects right now.

do you move that for a soft, puck moving d-man?

mike milbury might...

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#25 freeze
August 22 2009, 09:43PM
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I find it shocking that the Rangers have that much space to play with.

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#26 olderthendirt
August 23 2009, 08:52AM
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Need one more stat with the cap room, how many more NHL quality players do the teams need to start the season. Seems to me some teams may have to use an AHL 4th line.

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#27 oil fan
August 23 2009, 12:23PM
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Why would the Oiler's trade Gilbert when he is younge and signed for a long time (2014). If any D-man get traded look for Souray to get traded. He is in this prime. With Vish healthy he can take Souray's role anyday. That would leave room for Pekham to come up ( Tough D-MAN). If the Oilers can trade Souray to LA ( was rumored before), i see a guy like Frolov in return its a great deal for everyone. As for as Heatly goes I think he will be back in Ottawa and they make a trade near the deal line getting more for him i.e two first round picks from the Sharks. That way the Sharks woulnt have to pay him so much and they may win a round in the playoffs. I dont think Dany is a goof playoff guy since he doesnt care about any team just him self, cause being an assistant captain isn't a big enough role for him. Someone anyone should let him know that when you dont back check and play like shit you usually get demoted to the second line PP.

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#28 Asciutto
August 23 2009, 02:35PM
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"they’ll need to add a puck-mover at some point. Given the Howson-Edmonton connection, it’s a fairly easy leap to guess they’ll add someone from the Oilers’ stable"

I've been thinking of something like Visnovsky for Umberger & some 3rd Rounders.

For the Oilers it Clears Cap and Addresses a specific need - deepens the forwards.

Then, replace Visnovsky with Seidenberg.

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#29 Archaeologuy
August 23 2009, 03:08PM
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Asciutto wrote:

Visnovsky for Umberger & some 3rd Rounders.

Scott Howson would push his grandmother down the stairs just to get to the fax machine fast enough to make that deal before the drugs Tambi took wore off.

Umberger doesnt hold a candle to Visnovsky and the Oilers would be better served buying lotto 649 tickets instead of asking for 3rd rounders for one of their top 2 d-men.

The Oilers dont need to lose Salary and Talent at the same time.

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#30 Asciutto
August 23 2009, 03:17PM
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So Stoll + Geene is better than Umberger & some 3rd rounders? The idea with picks is that the Oilers don't want Cap back, do they?

"Scott Howson would push his grandmother down the stairs..."

Visnovsky's salary might blow up the Blu Jacket's budget, Howsen may not be able to make that trade at all.

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#31 Asciutto
August 23 2009, 03:28PM
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"So Stoll + Geene is better than Umberger & some 3rd rounders?"

That should've read: "Stoll + Geene + $2 Million in Cap space..."

Unlike many, I think of Cap space as an asset

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#32 Archaeologuy
August 23 2009, 03:53PM
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@ Asciutto: 100 out of 100 times I would trade Stoll and Greene for Visnovsky. I would push Howson's Grandma down the stairs to make that trade again.

Why should the Oilers trade Vis for peanuts because LA dealt Vis for peanuts? It's not Edmonton's problem that LA didnt get good value for their D-Man.

Cap space IS valuable, but the Oil havent even been forced to keep a guy in the minors just to save the cap yet, so why dump a guy who was their best all around defenseman for a 27 yr old who's career year has been 50 points? Am I the only one who thinks Umberger has been underwhelming his whole career?

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#33 Librarian Mike
August 23 2009, 04:15PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Am I the only one who thinks Umberger has been underwhelming his whole career?

The way people talk about him reminds me of Danius Zubrus. For a few years there, it seemed like everyone was dropping this guy's name as a 'next big thing' and I don't think he ever got more than like 14 goals a season.

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#34 Archaeologuy
August 23 2009, 04:53PM
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@ Librarian Mike: Exactly. The guy is 27 and scored 20, 16, 13, and 26 goals. He has never scored more than 50 points in a season.

Visnovsky plays huge minutes and was on pace to have more points than Umberger this year if it wasnt for a shoulder injury.

Umberger at 3.75 is hardly any better than Penner at 4.25. How would people like having 2 Penners and a Horcoff in their top 6?

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#35 ScubaSteve
August 23 2009, 05:19PM
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Asciutto wrote:

Visnovsky for Umberger & some 3rd Rounders.

Worst..... Trade..... Ever..... (al a' comic book guy)

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#36 Jonathan Willis
August 23 2009, 05:32PM
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The problem is that none of the top-four guys are guys you want to see out of town.

- Visnovsky's the best of the lot. - Souray's tremendous physically and packs a cannon. - Gilbert's a great puck-mover at a very young age and isn't too pricey at 4MM/yr - plus he's signed long-term. - Grebeshkov's the cheapest of the bunch and we still don't know where his ceiling is.

If Souray does want out of town that makes it easy but if he doesn't it isn't a remotely easy decision to make.

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#37 ronaldo
August 23 2009, 05:40PM
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I would push Howson's Grandma down the stairs for a Klondike Bar.

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#38 Fiveandagame
August 23 2009, 05:54PM
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Man I hate august.... when does rookie camp start?

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#39 Librarian Mike
August 23 2009, 05:57PM
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ronaldo wrote:

I would push Howson’s Grandma down the stairs for a Klondike Bar.

I heard Howson went to Columbus because his Grandma didn't like it in Edmonton. Just saying...

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#40 Asciutto
August 23 2009, 07:58PM
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"Worst….. Trade….. Ever"

Ya think so? Get outta town! I've seen dozens worse including some I've put up myself

Schremp/Pouliot/Brodziak + O'Sullivan/Staios/Plante + Roloson + 3rd for Spezza + 2nd

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#41 ScubaSteve
August 23 2009, 10:12PM
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Asciutto wrote:

“Worst….. Trade….. Ever” Ya think so? Get outta town! I’ve seen dozens worse including some I’ve put up myself Schremp/Pouliot/Brodziak + O’Sullivan/Staios/Plante + Roloson + 3rd for Spezza + 2nd

I would make that trade in a heartbeat. Brodz only got us a 6th rounder, and besides O'sully, he's the best player in that bunch.

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#42 Pouzar
August 23 2009, 11:12PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The problem is that none of the top-four guys are guys you want to see out of town. - Visnovsky’s the best of the lot. - Souray’s tremendous physically and packs a cannon. - Gilbert’s a great puck-mover at a very young age and isn’t too pricey at 4MM/yr - plus he’s signed long-term. - Grebeshkov’s the cheapest of the bunch and we still don’t know where his ceiling is. If Souray does want out of town that makes it easy but if he doesn’t it isn’t a remotely easy decision to make.

It would be nice to have our cake and eat it too by keeping the 'big 4' and acquiring a top end scoring winner. Truthfully though, for cap issues alone a trade for such a player would have to involve a decent player with a big contract heading the other way.

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#43 Antony Ta
August 24 2009, 01:25AM
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I hope Niklas Kronwall or Holmstrom become available.

Tommy's best days are behind him but he's still a heck of a hockey player.

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#44 oil fan
August 24 2009, 08:29AM
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who cares Tambo isn't going to trade anyone. He is all talk no cock

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#45 Halibut
August 24 2009, 09:54AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Also, looking at Nashville’s depth chart, I see a definite potential destination for one of Nilsson/Schremp.

Possibly but most likely they wait for the waiver wire. I think there are a few teams that will have to expose players they'd rather not lose for nothing to fix their cap situation.

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#46 Jon
August 24 2009, 11:13AM
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How do I spell relief P E N N E R ... give him away and we move from 25th place to 12th and have some breathing room. Does it affect our top lines? nope Do we lose an effective PK'er or checker? nope Do we lose a player that gives it all in battle for copper and blue? nope

B'bye Penner ... please!

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#47 Ogden Brother
August 24 2009, 11:29AM
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Jon wrote:

How do I spell relief P E N N E R … give him away and we move from 25th place to 12th and have some breathing room. Does it affect our top lines? nope Do we lose an effective PK’er or checker? nope Do we lose a player that gives it all in battle for copper and blue? nope B’bye Penner … please!

I always love this game.

Once the teams hit the ice, it's irrelavant if you have the 5th highest payroll or the 18th highest payroll.

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#48 Quicksilver ballet
August 24 2009, 11:30AM
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Wonder if anything could be done to bring in Nathan Horton.

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#49 Jonathan Willis
August 24 2009, 12:28PM
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@ Jon:

You should take a look at colleague Derek's article.

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#50 Archaeologuy
August 24 2009, 12:50PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: ~You mean Penner isnt the worst player in the history of ever? You mean MacT was wrong? MY WHOLE WORLD IS CRUMBLING APART!~

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