After making his rounds on the phone, one NHL general manager said Wednesday he realized that most of the league’s 31 teams fit neatly into one of three buckets that will determine the cadence of this off-season.
There are the teams with massive salary cap issues or financial constraints, the teams with tons of salary cap space, and then the teams in the middle – those with enough breathing room to re-sign their free agents with ease and maybe even get a little creative with others.
Where does your team fall?
As an explainer to TSN Hockey’s latest Trade Bait board, let’s attempt to categorize each team:
(all numbers via CapFriendly.com)
THE SALARY CAP HELL BUCKET
Toronto Maple Leafs: So long as the Big Four (Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander) account for nearly half ($40.4 million) of the frozen $81.5 million cap, filling in the gaps will be challenging.
Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have less than $11 million to spend on a starting netminder and three or four depth forwards.
Arizona Coyotes: Phil Kessel, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner and Niklas Hjalmarsson are Trade Bait candidates as the Yotes look to shave salary.
Anaheim Ducks: Moving Ryan Kesler to LTIR can give GM Bob Murray another $6.8 million to spend, but the Ducks still have more than $74 million already committed.
Chicago Blackhawks: GM Stan Bowman needs a starting goaltender and to re-sign 30-goal rookie Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. He’s got less than $8 million to do it.
Dallas Stars: The Stanley Cup finalists have some decisions to make. RFAs Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz need new contracts, plus a mega deal is looming for Miro Heiskanen. The Stars might also need another netminder because playoff hero Anton Khudobin is up.