On Tuesday night with the #13 selection in the 2020 NHL Draft the Hurricanes drafted forward Seth Jarvis from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Jarvis is a bit undersized but rates high for playmaking, creativity and hockey smarts. My intent is to cover the Canes drafted players after the draft concludes on Wednesday.
A recurring theme during the off-season in considering lineup changes has been the fact that the Hurricanes have a bit of salary cap budget flexibility for 2020-21 but need to be careful overcommitting for 2021-22 when Andrei Svechnikov needs to be re-signed. I touched on some of the upcoming contract specifics in an article on September 22 entitled, “Money matters.” Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the Carolina Hurricanes salary situation in more detail for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
2020-21 Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation
For 2020-21, the previous roster is mostly already signed with a bit of room to possibly add another player or two. The team has 11 forwards under contract with Warren Foegele as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Foegele’s 30-point season will garner a raise from his entry-level contract, but should be modest.
On defense, the Hurricanes have six defensemen under contract counting Jake Bean and have Haydn Fleury as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights for a seventh. With a season spent mostly in a third pairing role with a modest point total, Fleury’s raise should be modest like Foegele’s.
Finally, in net the Hurricanes have Petr Mrazek, James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic all under contract.
Estimating Warren Foegele and Haydn Fleury at $1.8 million each and also adding Jake Bean, Morgan Geekie and Alex Nedeljkovic to the CapFriendly total leaves the Hurricanes with only $1.8 million of remaining cap space with 22 players on the roster including three goalies.
The easiest path to a bit more wiggle room would be trading one of the veteran goalies to bump Nedeljkovic into the #2 slot and free up about $3 million.
So for 2020-21, the Hurricanes can make the current roster work easily but will need to do the math to make any additions.
2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation
The challenge increases for the 2021-22 season. The Hurricanes immediately save $2.3 million when Alexander Semin finally comes off the books. The team saves another $20.7 million from a number of players’ contracts ending. While that does present some flexibility the math is still challenging. Most significantly, Svechnikov will come off his entry-level contract for less than $1 million and likely earn something in the $6.5 to $9 million range. In addition, most of the other free agents are coming off modest contracts such that there will not be much savings trying to replace them if the team tries to cut costs.
Counting Svechnikov at $7.5 million, the Hurricanes will have nine forwards under contract for about $41 million total and the need to either re-sign or replace Ryan Dzingel, Jordan Martinook and Brock McGinn.
If one assumes that Dougie Hamilton is re-signed for $7 million, the blue line costs about $28 million.
Finally, in net the Hurricanes could start with Nedeljkovic estimated at about $1 million and will need to add another goalie.
The total cost is about $70 million which leaves about $11.5 million assuming the salary cap stays the same at $81.5 million. That $11.5 million must cover the cost of three depth forwards and probably a starting goalie. That math is possible but a bit tight. If the Hurricanes again go with a 1A/1B type goalie for $3-4 million and budget $1.5 million each for three forwards, the salary cap total rises to $78 million leaving about $3.5 million of wiggle room in case Svechnikov or Hamilton’s contract runs higher or if the team wants to add another player.
This math also illustrates the potential problem with adding a higher cost player like Patrik Laine. For certain, such an addition means money must be saved somewhere else.
Additional flexibility could be gained from losing a player to the expansion draft and/or buying out a player like Niederreiter or Gardiner if they do not have stronger 2020-21 campaigns.
Netting it out
By no means are the Hurricanes up against the salary cap in a way where they must cut salary like the Tampa Bay Lightning this off-season. But at the same time, the Hurricanes do need to consider salary cap implications both short and long-term with each and every transaction/decision.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Are you surprised to see the Carolina Hurricanes right up against the salary cap pretty much for the first time since the arrival of the NHL salary cap?
2) Of the players on the current roster, which might you consider trading or buying out to free up additional salary cap space?
3) Do you think the Hurricanes will be able to will be able to keep Svechnikov and Hamilton and either re-sign or add a medium to higher-end goalie to keep most of the group intact for the 2021-22 season?