NHL Teams Strategize Roster Upgrades With Flat Salary Cap
Like every other sports league affected by the pandemic, the NHL was forced to face a series of cost-cutting measures. But the league has other flexible financial plans in mind. As part of its return-to-play plan, the NHL’s salary cap will remain flat at $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season. Seven NHL teams are taking advantage of this protocol through strategic upgrades and trades before the season starts.
New Jersey Devils
Projected cap space: $26.2 million
Roster size: 13
The team is looking to extend the contract of RFA goalie MacKenzie Blackwood, who had a great NHL run for 23 years. According to critics, the Devils could also start looking for replacements for one of their three UFA forwards, Nikita Gusev, Travis Zajac, and Kyle Palmieri, if they want to improve their roster.
Projected cap space: $39.5 million
Roster size: 9
Ottawa is struggling to upgrade its roster, but they are planning to invite the likes of Josh Norris, Logan Brown, Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, or Erik Brannstrom to the team next year. The team has lots of opportunities to reduce cost and add impactful players next season.
Los Angeles Kings
Projected cap space: $20.7 million
Roster size: 16
While the team finished the latest season near the bottom of the rankings, Los Angeles Kings is reportedly planning to add new players at the second-overall draft pick. The team committed $21 million to Kopitar and Doughty and $5.8 million to Jonathan Quick.
Projected cap space: $22.3 million
Roster size: 14
Based on Avalanche’s previous performances, it’s pretty obvious that the team needs an improved play as a defensive unit. Nathan MacKinnon, priced at $6.3 million through 2022-23, is still Avalanche’s best deal in years. The team should be patient in choosing more best-value contracts next season.
Projected cap space: $14 million
Roster size: 17
The team’s current roster size and player cap calculation do not include Jesperi Kotkaniemi or Alexander Romanov, who are both set to join the team on next year’s roster. Despite this, Montreal Canadiens’ current cap is still below $2 million, so the team plans to look for possible trade candidates.
Detroit Red Wings
Projected cap space: $34.6 million
Roster size: 10
The team has a promising core, courtesy of their leading players Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha (RFA) and Tyler Bertuzzi (RFA). The team is expected to add another top-four pick this draft to find their new goalie and rebuild the blue line.
Projected cap space: $34.4 million
Roster size: 10
The team already committed $25 million to their three highest-paid forwards. The Sabres hasn’t made it to the playoffs since 2011, so the pressure in choosing more players that could fill in the roster is pretty serious. Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson would be sitting as RFAs this season, while Rasmus Dahlin plans to take a year away.