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.)