Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Who Stays? Who Goes? Who Knows?
Here's a quick look at the Salary Cap numbers of the Senators going into the summer.
I've broken the players into 3 separate groups as you can see below.
Most Likely To Stay
(Player followed by Cap Hit - not actual salary)
Dany Heatley - 7.5
Jason Spezza - 7.0
Daniel Alfredsson - 4.875
Mike Fisher - 4.2
Jarkko Ruutu - 1.3
Nick Foligno - 0.850
Shean Donovan - 0.625
Ryan Shannon - Restricted
Jesse Winchester - 0.550
Chris Phillips - 3.5
Filip Kuba - 3.7
Anton Volchenkov - 2.5
Brian Lee - 1.275
Chris Campoli - 0.633
Pascal Leclaire - 3.8
Brian Elliott - Restricted
Total Cap Hit: (Roughly) 42 million
Possible Trade Bait
Chris Kelly - 2.125 (most likely will stay but would be moved if the right deal came along)
Christoph Schubert - 0.883 (Schubes days as a Sen are over)
Jason Smith - 2.6 (Senators will find no takers for his salary but this may be a blessing in disguise - Smith is a warrior who will be valuable come playoff time)
Alex Picard - 0.8 (I have no idea how Murray feels about Picard but I'd bet he goes)
Brendan Bell - Restricted (He will be cheap and useful - he stays)
Alex Auld - 1.0 (I think he's gone but what do I know)
Total Cap Hit: (Roughly) 7 million
If none of the players on the above list are moved, the total cap hit for next year will be 49 million. That doesn't take into account the salaries due Ryan Shannon, Brian Elliott and Brendan Bell. Shannon will probably make close to 1 million so that at least brings the cap hit to 50 million.
If the NHL's salary cap is in the mid 50's as expected, the Senators will have about 3 to 4 million to possibly entice one or both of the following players who are unrestricted. That won't be enough unless they cut costs elsewhere (such as shipping out Schubert, Picard and Auld)
Unrestricted Free Agents (May or may not be back)
If recent failed negotiations are any indication, Neil is probably gone and Murray has already expressed his disappointment in Comrie for his lackluster play.
The problem is that the Senators desperately need two players just like Neil and Comrie (when they are on their games).
Letting both of those players go significantly weakens the Senators on both offense and in the toughness department. But does Murray want to spend the money?
Hopefully Murray learned his lesson when he went cheap on his defenseman after trading both Wade Redden and Andre Meszaros (again, I'm not saying he should have kept those specific players, but he should have replaced them properly...don't freak out Redden haters).
Sometimes you have to overpay players to keep them from going elsewhere and Neil is probably worth the 2 million required to keep him, especially if you can cut the fat elsewhere on the roster (and especially if the Leafs are going to try to sign him).
Comrie on the other hand is more of a gamble. He has hip issues and his career seems to be on a downward spiral ever since his glory days with his hometown Oilers. He's not worth the 4 million he made this year but he might be a bargain at 2.5 if he retains his form.
It could get interesting this summer due to the fact that Jesse Winchester somewhat outplayed Chris Kelly in a similar role, and he did so at a bargain price. Yet I still feel that Kelly has a lot to offer and by all accounts, he is one of the most popular teammates in the room. His playoff experience can be a big asset to the Senators who are not (and should not be) in a rebuilding mode.
Casting away too many veterans, such as Kelly and Jason Smith could come back to haunt them.
Besides, 2 million is basically the average player salary in the NHL. People get up in arms over 2 million dollar third and fourth line players, but really, that's the cost of players in this league nowadays.
If you can augment that with cheap but effective youngsters, you can remain comfortably under the salary cap and have success that way.
But it would also make a lot of sense for Murray to sacrifice some players such as Kelly and Neil in order to bring in a proper power-play defenseman.
If you're going to weaken your toughness and depth, do it at the expense of someone who will have a major impact on your team.
Obviously, Jay Bouwmeester leads the pack but other unrestricted defenseman who may interest Murray are Mattias Ohlund, Nick Boynton, Phillipe Boucher, Francois Beauchemin, Derek Morris, Jaroslav Spacek, Jordan Leopold and Martin Skoula.
Trade-wise, well take your pick.
Who knows what Murray could get on the trade market. Could Sheldon Souray be available? What about Cam Barker?