Not too long ago I wrote about the Hurricanes salary cap situation for 2020-21 and 2021-22. The upshot was that the Hurricanes had a bit of wiggle room for 2020-21 but needed to maintain some cushion for 2021-22 when Andrei Svechnikov’s next contract will pressure the math.
With Jesper Fast now in the mix, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a deeper dive into the 2020-21 salary cap situation and a couple nuances that could affect the roster.
The basics and then adjustments
CapFriendly shows the Hurricanes with $5.1 million of salary cap space remaining.
That does not include Haydn Fleury and Warren Foegele who are both restricted free agents who filed for arbitration. Most likely both get signed before arbitration. My rough estimate is $1.8 million for Warren Foegele and $1.6 million for Haydn Fleury on one-year deals. The price would rise a bit if either is signed to more term, but let’s baseline the pair at $3.4 million.
In addition, Alex Nedeljkovic is no longer waiver-exempt, so if the Hurricanes try to send him to the AHL, he could be lost for nothing in return. Because of that, Nedeljkovic almost certainly stays at the NHL level adding another $737,500.
Further, CapFriendly currently has Morgan Geekie ($763,333) and Jake Bean ($863,333) below the NHL level. Both players are waiver-exempt and could be sent to the AHL, but both players figure to slot at the NHL level for the 2020-21 season.
But the CapFriendly tally also includes Joakim Ryan ($700,000) who figures to start the season at the AHL level if the Hurricanes blue line is healthy.
With Nedeljkovic, Geekie and Bean all at the NHL level, the Hurricanes salary clocks in at $81,481,905 with a 23-man roster that includes 3 goalies, 13 forwards and 7 defensemen.
If my math is correct, the Hurricanes are literally $8,000 under the salary cap importantly pending the outcome of Foegele and Fleury’s contracts.
A few upshots
I think the team is likely at least hoping to do another deal to decrease salary. The most likely candidates would be James Reimer because he is likely movable and a logical way to cut costs IF the team is willing to trust Alex Nedeljkovic as a backup. But I think even more likely is the team trying to move Jake Gardiner. Such a trade could see the Hurricanes take back a comparable player whose salary is maybe a bit high based on 2019-20 performance. If the Hurricanes could take back $800,000 to $1,000,000 less in salary, it buys some breathing room.
Another significant upshot is that a few $100,000 either way matters for Fleury and Foegele’s next contracts. That could push the Canes to do one-year deals for one of both of them to make the math work for 2020-21.
Finally, if the Hurricanes are not able to offload salary before the start of the 2020-21 season, one solution could be odd usage for Jake Bean and Morgan Geekie if both do not seize slots in the lineup. Both players are still waiver-exempt, so the Hurricanes could shuffle either or both back and forth from/to the AHL to stay under the salary cap ceiling.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think the team has at least one more cost-cutting move yet to come to buy some salary cap wiggle room? If so, who do you think gets traded?
2) What are your estimates for Foegele and Fleury’s next contracts in years and salary per year?
3) What are your thoughts on entering the 2020-21 season this close to the salary cap ceiling? Is it workable with some math gymnastics? Or must something happen before the season starts?