TSN reported this morning that the NHL’s Salary Cap will rise to $64 Million for the 2011-2012 season. Depending on their respective team’s economic outlook, this may have been very good news for GM’s across the NHL – or very bad news. There are a few teams that did not want the increase that was inevitable after the NHL’s revenue grew again, as well as a $10 Billion TV deal. The movement of the Cap means that the minimum amount that a team can spend next season has risen to $48 Million which makes for a very expensive season for teams who may be struggling financially.
This is welcome news for those Habs fans who have been hoping that the Canadiens could bring James Wisniewski back to the team for next season. It remains to be seen what the offers on the UFA market will be for his services however, the $4.6 Million increase could match fairly closely with what he expects to earn this next season. There is no doubting what Wisniewski brings to the table offensively, and given that there is no guarantee that Markov or Gorges will remain healthy for next season – it may prove to be a very prudent move to retain the Wiz.
While keeping Wisniewski might be a possibility with a $64 Million Cap, Habs fans should also understand that doing so would likely come at the expense of adding an offensive free agent. I invite everyone to use capgeek’s calculator to see what may or may not be possible for our team next season. I’ve played with this feature on many occasions and I can tell you that unless Gauthier can get a few players to sign for a home-town discount – signing Markov, Gorges and Wisniewski will put a strain on the Habs ability to sign a player to play in the top 6.
With a host of young players in RFA status (Gorges, Pacioretty – *edit signed for 2 years as I wrote this blog*, Pouliot, Weber, White, Picard), there isn’t as much Cap space as one would think. The savings from a player like Roman Hamrlik’s expiring contract evaporates fairly quickly when you consider that Josh Gorges will see a raise from the $1.1M he made last season. I’d say he’ll make somewhere around $3M per season on a long-term deal. How much will Max Pacioretty be awarded after a great, although injury shortened season in which he played for $910,000? You can bet that Yannik Weber and Ryan White will both command more than the $875,000 and $850,000 they played for in 2010-11. Even if we do not re-sign Pouliot or Picard you can see how the Capspace conundrum deepens.
I’m no “capologist” and there is certainly lots of time remaining in which Gauthier can fill his roster – yet some very tough decisions remain. A great deal of what Gauthier is able to do this season depends on what other teams do. Are there teams out there who could out-bid our FA offerings? What would Wisnieswki fetch on the open market? What UFA forward would you focus on this season? Jagr? Laich?