There are several teams that are tight against the salary cap, such as the Flyers and Flames, but those teams look like they can manage without any major roster moves. The same can’t be said for the following three teams.
With the Kovalev signing they are now over the cap for the 2009-10 season by close to $1.5 million and next season doesn’t get much better as they have about $46 million allocated to just 11 players and only 2 defensemen. That doesn’t include prospect defenseman Erik Karlsson who would earn $875,000 with bonuses that could take him to $1.3 million. Yes, they will trade Dany Heatley which might save some money but they will likely have to take significant money back as well. In the Edmonton deal they were set to take back Dustin Penner’s $4.25 million contract as well as potentially a couple million for Cogliano and Smid. Jason Smith and his $2.6 millio contract is a likely target to be dumped if necessary but that won’t help next years cap problems which could mean big problems if the cap drops any significant amount.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks currently have about $1.5 cap space next season but still need to add about 4 more forwards to fill out their roster and at a league minimum salary of $500K that won’t be possible. The Sharks are going to have to shed at least a small amount of salary. Prior to the sharks signing Ryan Clowe to a 4 year, $3.5 million per year contract there were a number of rumours that he could be traded and I suppose he still could in the right deal. More likely to be traded though are defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Christian Ehrhoff each of whom come with a $3.1 million cap hit or possibly cheaper defensemen Douglas Murray ($2.5 million) or Brad Lukowich ($1.566 million). Johnathan Cheechoo is a possibility too but with his poor play in recent years it might be difficult to find a taker for his $3 million cap hit over the next 2 seasons.
The Blackhawks don’t really have any problems this season as they have over $4 million to spend and really only Kris Versteeg to sign. That is unless the issue with the late qualifying offers results in Versteeg being made a UFA in which case he may find a lucrative offer elsewhere. In some respects though, that may be a blessing in disguise for the Blackhawks because next summer will be real tough for them as they have committed close to $40 million in cap space and will have to sign Kane, Toews and Keith, all of whom might command in the $5 million per year range and they will still need to find about 6-8 players to fill out the roster and I haven’t even considered what might happen with Versteeg. This might be the year for the Blackhawks to make a run at the Stanley Cup because next summer will see them trading away at least a couple of big salaries or at the very least dumping Huet and his inflated salary in the AHL and going the Red Wing route with cheap goalies.