With the Sens suddenly not stinking anymore, you’re easily forgiven for neglecting the reason 29 fan bases follow hockey: thinking of next season. (Especially when “next year” doesn’t necessarily mean daydreaming about Yakupov.) The team’s competitive for now, and winning in an entertaining fashion. Obviously I’m making all sorts of trips to the Wine Rack for my daily dose of Iniskillen Iced Wine and totally paying for my Senators Sportsnet Digipak Bonus (Not Free) Content legally.
But here’s the thing: if the team ends up more competitive than we thought it would be (whoa whoa WHOA, I just said “more competitive”…not “competitive”), and they already have all this cap space, there are some exciting scenarios for next season.
It’s Friday so obviously I’m on Cap Geek. And I notice, first, that the team has about $12,500,000 in cap space already, which is, you know, sort of crazy. (Also crazy: Dallas is competitive with the lowest payroll in the league. Columbus has the fourth highest eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeshsorryguys.)
But then, check it out: there’s just under $2,500,000 coming off the books just in buy-outs. Cheechoo. Emery. Alfredsson. (So glad we bought out that bum.) That’s a whole, real, corporeal player in exchange for nebulous bills. Or two Konopkas.
I sent out a Tweet asking if anyone would consider re-signing Kuba considering his strong play this season, and to sweeten the deal I posited a scenario in which he accepts less money and years. Say…about the $2.5M we just saved on buyouts. The completely scientific results of that Twitter poll (which, by the way…. @wtyky) indicated that 175% of respondents would not re-sign him. (Margin of error of + / – 200%) Hm. Well then. I guess that’s another $3,700,000 in space.
Then you’ve got Carkner, Winchester, Lee and Konopka who, for the sake of argument, let’s say aren’t coming back. Another cool $3,025,000.
Murray has got to re-sign Karlsson. (FOR LIFE, BTW.) That’s a subject for another many dozens and hundreds of posts. (If there’s anything I learned from being notified 10,000 times that that Mika Zibanejad had been sent back to the SEL, it’s that we’re all on the same page when it comes to discussion topics.) But let’s just split the difference between the low and high ends of potential salary and say he makes $4,000,000 a year. We’ll say Da Costa, Regin, and Foligno come back for about the same amount. We’ll also assume Papa Alfie stays in house, and lets the Sun columnists tell him who should live in his basement for one more year. We’ll also assume a few new youngins come into the fold. Let’s also assume we remember Filatov is alive.
That gives this team around $18,000,000 in cap space. Or over a quarter of the entire cap. Which is absolutely nutty. $2M more cap space than the lowest payrolled team in the league right now.
My point being:
- We should probably seriously look at re-signing Kuba, especially if he’ll take a paycut and sign for a year or two without a No Trade Clause. I know he’s frustrating. I’ve been right there with you, throwing my chicken wings into a child’s face with frustration. But he can play 20+ minutes a night, and this is a young team, and c’mon guys. Just c’mon. He’s not that expensive. Maybe we can teach him to throw his size around! Just kidding. But think about where you’re gonna put your Kuba hate if he finishes the season with 35 points and a plus rating.
- There are some seriously exciting players up as UFAs. Not a ton of them, and of course Zach Parise AND Alex Semin will somehow both end up on the Rangers after they bury Brad Richards in the Latvian Mediocre Excellence Brigade. But there’s those two, Ryan Suter, Willie Mitchell, Mikhail Grabovski, and of course a whole slew of Misfit Toys willing to take on cheap contracts just because no one else wants them (helloooooo Lee Stepniak). Murray might actually be in the enviable position, now known as The Tallon, of having to spend to get to the cap floor. This team can have a major shot in the arm next year, and so long as Murray signs players to short contracts to keep room for the necessary re-signings, this team’s in great shape.
- This is a chance for Melnyk to re-coup some losses. (Which, you know, I’m not entirely convinced about.) This is also a chance for the team to reinvest. Scoreboard. Cheaper concessions. More ticket deals. Let’s get a foam finger on all of those kids’ hands. (Though thanks for the pin during the home opener, that was nice.)
1) Karlsson is going to get much much more than $4mil. Take a look at what other D around the league have gotten after their ELC and it’s a bit scary. Schenn got in the $4mil range, Myers $5.5, and Doughty almost $7mil. If EK continues to put up serious numbers he is going to hit a home run next summer. Obviouly he’s not going to continue his point per game pace, but let’s say he ends up in the 50-60 pt range with a respectable +/- and two all-star appearances…I don’t see him coming in too much below Doughty.
2) Re-signing Kuba is a terrible idea. Especially if you’re only doing it to get to the floor. He’s played well for a week and a half and now we want to extend him? The guy is a complete bandaid and has shown for many years in the NHL that he can’t maintain a high level of play for more than a few weeks at a time.
I dunno about Karlsson getting nearly as much as Doughty. I mean, I admit that $4M is somewhere in between the low and high points, but I really don’t see him getting more than a $5.5M cap hit on his second deal. I mean, I love him, but he’s a -41 on his career. He’s not in the Doughty strata, not even on the Meyers level because of his size. A player’s second deal is the time to really put the screws to them because of their lack of choices. See what Sather did with Staal, also a pretty good defenceman making about $4M.
Kuba ain’t that bad! Playing 20+ minutes a night is no small thing, and everyone in the league is looking for defensive depth right now.
Agreed, I don’t think he’s going to get the same money as Doughty, but I think he’ll definitely be a lot closer to Doughty’s number than to Schenn’s. Point production carries a lot of weight in contract negotiations, and he’s on his way to having a very good year point-wise.
If Kuba plays over 75 games this year and is willing to take a one-year deal then I’d consider it. But since neither of those things will happen I think it’s time to move on.
Karlsson will get something around 6mil. He’s good, he deserves it. If Kuba potentially takes a paycut with no, no-trade clause that would be a steal. I understand his play in past seasons has been anything but stellar, but with the minutes he plays; and the new groove he has found with this fresh young club it speaks to his ability to shoulder a heavy workload when needed. However we do have alot of promising young guys comin’ up on our blueline to fill that void
If Karlsson was paid $6M, he’d be the 11th highest paid defenceman in the league – getting more than Duncan Keith, Mike Green, Keith Yandle, Chris Pronger, Kevin Bieksa… He’s awesome – I love our special little guy – and maybe he’ll make that much on his third contract, but I think for RFAs it’s probably best for everyone involved to sign something reasonable and short term with the hopes of cashing in later. If he’s a top ten defenceman in the league in a few years, this team will happily pay him top ten money. Right now, it’s tough to break the bank in only the fourth year of Karlsson’s career.
With the UFAs we only want to add to our core, Willie mitchel is great but too old. I dont want to sound like a Mike millbury type, but Semin will not help us win. He has lacked consistency and intensity for his entire career, its just not worth the risk. Besides, Maclean would probably send him down to elmira or something. Leafs will surely sign Grabo, they really like him. I like the idea of signing Sutter though. No the sens are not as bad as all the “experts” predicted, but as soon as Spezza or more than 1 of karlsson, michalek, alfredsson go down with injury, this team is going to lose 10 in a row. If they manage to stay relatively healthy i wouldnt bet against them for a playoff spot, but that probably isnt going to happen.
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