Only a couple years ago the Hurricanes were more or less exempt from consideration of the NHL salary cap. The team had a self-imposed budget well below the NHL salary cap such that it did not matter. Fast forward to today and the Hurricanes in uncharted water having to consider the salary cap effects both short-term and longer-term for any move the team makes.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has a series a quick hitters on various salary cap implications that could come into play for the team in the near future.
If Nedeljkovic finally gets his NHL audition in 2020-21 and proves capable of being at least a backup heading into the 2021-22 season, that would be significant for the Hurricanes going forward. As long as his 2020-21 success is limited to a backup role, his next contract should be in the neighborhood of $1 million per year. With Mrazek and Reimer both scheduled to become free agents after the 2020-21 season, having Nedeljkovic as a capable backup for only $1 million-ish salary could either free up budget for elsewhere or make it possible to go higher budget on a #1 goalie. Mrazek and Reimer make a combined $6.5 million, so Nedeljkovic at $1 million makes $5.5 million available to keep the same budget at goalie or save some money to be spent elsewhere.
The near-term event probably with the widest range of possibilities salary-wise is Svechnikov’s next contract starting for the 2021-22. If follows his current upward trajectory, he figures to net a contract between $6 and $9 million per year, but a break out 2020-21 campaign could push even higher. Svechnikov is an emerging star and is going to be pricey, but ideal would be if the team can get Svechnikov signed long-term for something less that the ceiling.
Hamilton is the other high-end player due to become a free agent after the 2020-21 season. The watch point for this situation is Alex Pietrangelo’s next contract. His talks with the Blues have at least temporarily broken off presumably because he is pushing for a maximum deal that the Blues will not give him. I think Hamilton’s market value ask is at or slightly below what Pietrangelo gets. If that numbers pushes up too close to $10 million, I think the Hurricanes strongly consider just moving on. I think the Hurricanes at least consider re-signing Hamilton in a range of $6 to $8 million per year.
Growing number of contract problems and questions
A couple years back the Hurricanes contracts/salaries that were above market value was almost zero. Since then the Hurricanes have accumulated more contracts that are either problematic or at least still question markets. All of Niederreiter at $5.25 million, Staal at $6 million and Gardiner at $4.05 million are priced over fair value for their role. In addition, newcomers Skjei at $5.25 and Trocheck at $4.75 million are still in the process of settling in. That process has the potential to not work and make for more contracts that are priced higher than role/production. The totals are about $15 million in at least somewhat overpriced contracts and another $10 million that is TBD.
Morgan Geekie and the importance of players on entry-level deals
The best way to make the math work even with a bunch of higher-end salaries included is to be able to slot a couple or more entry-level contracts into the lineup. In 2019-20, the Hurricanes benefited from Svechnikov, Necas, Geekie, Foegele and Fleury either playing on entry-level contracts or similarly priced second contracts for less than $1 million per year.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What does your crystal ball say about Svechnikov’s next contract? Does he blow the doors off in 2020-21, demand a maximum deal and re-sign for something in the neighborhood of $10 million? Or does he have a more modest 2020-21 season and settle for a more moderate deal?
2) How much do you think Dougie Hamilton is worth at fair value? How much do you think the Hurricanes will be willing to offer him?
3) What other salary cap type quick hitters do you have?