Saturday, March 29, 2008

Game 79; Pens vs. Rangers

Okay, another NBC game. So let's look at some salary cap issues which Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire are sure to bring up tomorrow (if I hear "Tampa Bay North" one more time I'm going to flip out...). How Mike Milbury is qualified to comment on building a team is beyond me. Well...unless we count building other people's teams through terrible trades. Then he is definitely the man for the job...

Let's look at the salary situations of several of the "elite" clubs (and pre-deadline Tampa Bay) in the NHL, examining their 5 highest paid forwards, 2 highest paid defensemen, and their goaltending (if a team has a clear cut #1 being paid as such, I will only count one. If they have two being paid average money and rotate fairly evenly, I will count both). We will call this the "core of the team." (contract figures taken from

If players have extensions that kick in next season, we will use that figure as I'm more concerned with the future than the present years. Though this will sometimes conflict with players who have deals expiring this year that do not have extensions and are scheduled to be UFA's. So obviously these figures will not be completely accurate. Scott Niedermayer is also tricky and throws off Anaheim's calculations.

(all figures in millions)

Pavel Datsyuk: $6.7 (signed through 2013/14)
Dan Cleary: $2.8 (takes effect next season through 2012/13)
Henrik Zetterberg: $2.65 (through 2008/09 and due for a huuuuuge raise)
Tomas Holmstrom: $2.25 (through 2009/10)
Kris Draper: $2.128 (an extension kicks in next season that, I think, will actually lower his cap hit)

Top 5 forwards: $16.528

Nicklas Lidstrom: $7.6 (through this season, then $7.45 for the next two seasons)
Brian Rafalski: $6.0 (through 2011/12)

Top two defensemen: $13.6

Dominik Hasek: $4.05
Chris Osgood: $1.42 (extension kicks in next season through 2010/11)

Goaltending: $5.47

Core of the team total: $35.598

Additional considerations: Detroit is one of the best drafting teams in the NHL and constantly finds young players to step in when others leave. Players like Niklas Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula, and Jiri Hudler seem to be constantly making huge strides are one of the main reasons Detroit has remained an elite team year after year. Both Datsyuk and Zetterberg were low round picks who became elite players.


Anaheim Ducks

I'm cheating and using only 4 forwards and 3 defensemen due to the makeup of this team.

Ryan Getzlaf: $5.125 (beginning next season through 2012/13)
Todd Bertuzzi: $4.0 (through 2008/09)
Chris Kunitz: $3.725 (through 2011/12)
Todd Marchant: $2.518 (through 2008/09)

Forward total: $15.368

Mathieu Schneider: $5.625 (through 2008/09)
Chris Pronger: $5.515 (through 2009/10)
Scott Niedermayer: $4.115 (through 2008/09...though this cap number is for only this season as he sat out most of the way. He would count $6.75 were he to be on the roster the full season, so take that into consideration)

Defense total: $15.255

J.S. Giguere: $6.00 (through 2010/11)

"Core" total: 36.623

Additional Considerations: Niedermayer may retire (again) and Corey Perry is due for an extension which should place him among the top 4 salary-wise among Ducks forwards.


Ottawa Senators:

Dany Heatley: $7.5 (effective next season through 2013/14)
Jason Spezza: $7.0 (effective next season through 2014/15)
Daniel Alfredsson: $4.14 (effective through 2008/09 with 3 underpaid option years after that)
Mike Fisher: $4.2 (effective next season through 2012/13)
Chris Kelly: $1.262 (ends this season)

Forward total: 24.102

Wade Redden: $6.5 (ends this season)
Chris Phillips: $3.5 (through 2010/11)

Defense Total: $10.00

Martin Gerber: $3.7 (through 2008/09)
Ray Emery: $3.167 (through 2009/10)

Goaltending: $6.867

"Core" total: $40.969

Other things to consider: What will happen to Wade Redden after the season? Will Emery be traded (if anyone will take him)? What about Alfredsson's low salary (whose option are the option years? Player or club?)? Antoine Vermette and Andrej Meszaros are restricted free agents after this season.


Tampa Bay (not an elite, but just for fun...and we'll examine pre-deadline trades)

Brad Richards: $7.8 (technically off their books, but through 2010/11)
Vincent Lecavalier: $6.875 (through 2008/09 with a huuuuge extension coming this summer)
Martin St. Louis: $5.25 (through 2010/11)
Vaclav Prospal: $1.90 (technically gone, but through this season)
Chris Gratton: $1.5 (through this season)

Forward total: $23.325

Dan Boyle: $6.667 (effective next season through 2013/14)
Filip Kuba: $3.0 (through 2008/09)

Defense total: $9.667

Kari Ramo: $.658 (through 2008/09)
Johan Holmqvist: $1.0 (ends this season...and technically gone)

Goaltending total: $1.658

"Core" total: $34.65

Additional considerations: Where are their good young players? Where are their good free agent signings? Why have they failed on every attempt to solve their goaltending situation? This organization is a mess. Hockey's Future ranks Tampa 29th out of 30 teams in regards to prospects. So because they can't draft or sign free agents and have a handful of good players, this is what the Penguins are supposedly going to turn into? Also note that the Senators are/will be paying their top 5 forwards more money than Tampa was prior to the trading deadline. This is a team that signed Michel Oullet to be a top-six forward, a player the Pens did not even attempt to retain despite him being inexpensive.


New York Rangers:

Scott Gomez: $7.357 (through 2013/14)
Chris Drury: $7.050 (through 2011/12)
Brendan Shanahan: $5.3 (through 2007/08, includes bonus money)
Jaromir Jagr: $4.94 (perhaps through only this season though possibly including next season, the Caps are still picking up some of his tab, hence the low number)
Martin Straka: $3.3 (through 2007/08)

Forward total: $27.947

Paul Mara: $3.0 (through 2007/08)
Marek Malik: $2.5 (trough 2007/08)

Defense total: $5.5

Henrik Lundqvist: $6.875 (effective next season through 2013/14)

"Core" total: $40.322

Additional considerations: Spending more on their top 5 forwards than Tampa was, yet they were a trendy pick to win the cup this year, not to "turn into Tampa North." They can get out from under Jagr's contract this year. They might lose Jagr, Straka, Avery, and Shanahan after this season.


Dallas Stars

Brad Richards: $7.8 (through 2010/11)
Mike Ribeiro: $5.0 (effective next season through 2012/13)
Brendan Morrow: $4.1 (through 2012/13)
Jere Lehtinen: $4.0 (through 2008/09)
Mike Modano: $3.45 (through 2009/10)

Forward total: $24.35

Mattias Norstrom: $4.25 (through 2007/08)
Sergei Zubov: $4.0 (through 2008/09)

Defense total: $8.25

Marty Turco: $5.7 (through 2009/10)

"Core" total: $38.30

Additional considerations: The Stars are also paying more money to their top 5 forwards than Tampa was pre-deadline. Oddly enough, they are not "becoming Tampa West." They have built a solid blue-line and receive solid goaltending (something Tampa has not post-Cup winning).


Pittsburgh Penguins

We're going to have to use some (extremely) hypothetical salaries here since we have some key players coming up for new deals in the offseason...

Sidney Crosby: $8.7 (effective next season through 2012/13)
Evgeni Malkin: $7.5 (hypothetical through 2013/2014)
Marian Hossa: $6.5 (hypothetical through 2013/14)
Ryan Malone: $3.5 (hypothetical through 2012/13)
Petr Sykora: $2.625 (through 2008/09)

Forward total: $28.825

Sergei Gonchar: $5.0 (through 2009/10)
Ryan Whitney: $4.0 (through 2012/13)

Defense total: $9.0

Marc-Andre Fleury: $3.0 (hypothetical through 2011/12) This puts him in Cam Ward range, which is probably about right for the moment, though perhaps a bit on the low side. He's shown a lot of potential and seems to be starting to show consistency recently. He played well in the playoffs last year (despite what most commentators say) other than the first period of the first game. This number could vary greatly based upon his playoff performance this year.

Extremely hypothetical "core" total: $40.825

Additional considerations: Will Marian Hossa take a figure like this when he could get (a lot) more on the open market? Don Waddell stated money was not the issue in getting an extension done, it was the bleak future of the Atlanta organization (as recently documented by both TSN and ESPN). What will Staal's extension be? We could probably let Gonchar go once his current deal expires as defense is our organizational strong point (Whitney, Letang, Goligoski, Sneep, Strait). That will clear some salary off the books when Letang will get a new deal. I love Gonchar, but it would save salary and the Whitney/Letang combo can capably handle the point on the powerplay and will develop further over the next two seasons.

Obviously my salaries for Malkin, Hossa, and Malone are ridiculously hypothetical and probably will not be accurate. I have no idea what they'll do with any of them. For all we know, Hossa and Malone may not even be back. So let's just avoid arguing over whether these figures will be accurate. Especially Hossa. I know he probably won't sign for that low of a number, I still will hold out hope that he will.

So let's compare the "core" totals for all these teams: (forwards, defense, goal)

Senators: $40.969 ($24.102, $10.0, $6.867)
Pens: $40.825 ($28.825, $9.0, $3.0)
Rangers: $40.322 ($27.947, $5.5, $6.875)
Stars: $38.30 ($24.35, $8.25, $5.7)
Ducks: $36.623 ($15.368, $15.255, $6.0)
Red Wings: $35.598 ($16.528, $13.6, $5.47)
Lightning: $34.65 ($23.325, $9.667, $1.658)

So let's get this straight...Pittsburgh, according to NBC broadcasters and many others, is going to become "Tampa North" even though there are at least four teams that are or will be spending more per season on their top 5 forwards than Tampa was prior to trading Brad Richards?

While my analysis is definitely not a complete analysis, it does it least give a snapshot of the salaries of these teams. It should also at least somewhat debunk the "Tampa North" argument (which obviously fires me up more than just about anything hockey announcers say).

Where's the similar criticism of the Rangers (who don't have as good of a defensive corps as the Pens), Senators, and Stars? So these teams get a pass, but it's Pittsburgh who "gave up too much" and will "become Tampa North"? (clearly they didn't watch Colby and Crusher play that much)



Anonymous said...

well put.

Anonymous said...

I personally think that if one of our star players has to go due to cap issues it will be Staal (when he needs to be resigned) I doubt Hossa will get an extension he is just a rental. great analysis! LETS GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!

Vanessa Day said...

Wow, I'm actually in awe that I can focus my eyes to type after reading that.

It will be interesting to see who stays and who goes. I am still heartbroken over Colby's dismissal, so I'm trying not to get attached to any players--except Ruutu...hehe, but he's a free agent after this year. I can only hope he stays.

I speculate Hossa will not resign. I don't know about the other guy's contracts, but it seems like they are getting the likes of Letang and TK pretty cheap for the next couple of years, they may be able to keep someone good at a higher salary.

Who knows, though...that's part of the fun of it!

Anonymous said...

I think they will make an honest attempt to sign Hossa. The very same $7 million, 5-year deal that he turned down with Atlanta because they weren't a team on a winning path, would be much more doable with the Pens. Factor into that, new reports say that the cap will raise significantly next season to approximately $56.3 million and I think the Pens can creatively sign, or resign the all the key pieces needed to remain contenders for the next several years.

Remember, whatever they end up signing Malkin to this summer, won't kick in until the 2008-09 season anyway. By that time, the cap may bump upward another couple million at least, and/or other players counting towards the cap now and next season, may no longer be there.

Players like Roberts, Laraque, Sydor won't be here and possibly even Sykora may no longer be with the team. Gonchar and his $5 million cap hit may wind up being dealt because of that, his age he may be restricting the development and growth of players like Letang and Goligoski who will need to see more ice time and need resigned.

I think the only odd man out that the Pens would rather keep but might lose is Staal. Based on his poor numbers this season, they won't offer him another contract now and will wait to see what he does next season. If he does a complete 180 and plays like we hoped he would this go round, we may wind up losing him to a higher bidder, but I think they are stuck having to take that chance.

The Pens stated they will spend to the cap if neccesary, so money isn't an issue like it was in the past. The new arena and sellout crowds will generate the income to pay for the players like it was intended to do and the Pens are more than willing to spend now for the money they know will be there in a couple years.

Mario didn't go through all he did to keep this team here, get the new arena and still be stuck in another penny-pinching scenario. The fans are to get credit for making that happen with all the sellouts and support, getting a new arena that will cost the Pens only $4 million a year to build while retaining all hockey and non-hockey revenue generated by it is another reason, plus having deep pockets like Burke as an owner definately helps too.

Believe me, the Pens are in a financial situation that if they were allowed to spend over the cap to afford the players they wanted, they would and could.

Hi Vanessa!

Anonymous said...

it's a little scary how much we think alike about hockey. this is absolutely dead-on. i'll just make a handful of points in no particular order here.

when looking at detroit, you didn't even mention a guy like johan franzen. 14 goals in 13 games this month, including 6 game winners (including yesterday's 1-0 OT victory over Nashville). i noticed that detroit is very low on hockey future's prospect list as well, but i'm willing to bet at least one or two of their guys end up being very good NHLers, given the Wings' track record.

also, i just want to note something about the "Tampa North" criticism that you didn't even mention. TAMPA BAY WON THE STANLEY CUP!!! Why do people seem to forget this? Tampa Bay put together a high-priced group of talented individuals and won a Stanley Cup. If that's what the Pens are doing right now, then isn't that exactly what Ray Shero was hired to do? The goal of each and every team in the NHL is to win the Stanley Cup. So what if we get into salary cap trouble later on down the line? Malkin, Crosby, Staal, and Fleury will be Penguins for the considerable foreseeable future. Any salary cap problems will be resolved by unloading players like Hossa, Gonchar, Sykora, (perhaps) Whitney, etc. Say Hossa resigns for $7M for 4 years. We win the Cup next year and in three years we run into cap trouble. So what? We have our Cup and we trade Hossa for a solid return (after all...Atlanta was able to "fleece" us for Hossa. I'm sure we can get something good). Problem solved. As you said, it's not that signing three high-priced forwards was the problem. It was how they chose to remedy the situation and an overall, organizational lack of competence. Ouellet as the wing Richards needs? Why let Khabibulin walk instead of dishing Richards or St. Louis? Certainly the return on the forward would have been much greater and you wouldn't be stuck in perpetual netminder limbo now. The Bolts built an excellent team, but dismantled it in an incredibly incompetent manner (even the Richards deal...Mike Smith is your coveted target for one of the best playmakers in the NHL? Halpern looks like the best part of that deal right now). Shero and the Pens have proven to be considerably more competent in personnel decisions than the Lightning have recently.

as for what we gave up to get hossa...Dupuis, to me, is better than Armstrong at filling the exact role Armstrong filled (minus the funny personality). so that part of the deal is a wash. in essence then, we traded two top-6 centers (one who is borderline and may never make any significant impact and one who is at least a couple years away from making any significant impact) from a team with 3 top-6 centers already (all of whom are better than the two we traded) and a draft pick (this team is young enough already, we don't need more picks, we need more established players) for one of the best scoring wings in the world. i'd say we worked that out pretty damn well. also, i'd like to say that i have no idea why Toronto was willing to trade Hal Gill. that was a great pickup by Shero.

also, hopefully your hip is better, but i'm glad you didn't go yesterday, because i took the ticket. you totally missed the bald dude in the old school Errey jersey in the next row. it was sweet.

Anonymous said...

i really don't think the pens brought in hossa to be a rental. that contradicts their stated goals of building long term. it also seems odd that they would give up so much to acquire the scoring winger for crosby that they've coveted the past two seasons just to have them play together for 20-some games. i have no doubt that shero will offer hossa the kind of deal that hossa will get on the open market. i think the ball is going to be entirely in hossa's court. if he wants to play for the penguins next year, he'll be a penguin. they have the cap space and they have the roster need.


Vanessa Day said...

Hi all and anonymous!

I guess all that matters now is who is on the team for this current moment, what they are doing, and that the Pens keep winning.

I think there were some genius management decisons made on who to get and who to get rid of. In my opinion, I don't think the team could get much better.

I was extra-happy for their win yesterday (my birthday), and hope they crush Shanahan (sorry, I'm from Michigan) and the rangers tonight.

It's really getting amazing to watch!

Kaiser said...

Why is everyone posting as anonymous?

Anonymous said...


"We can let Gonchar go"????

He led the league in assists on the powerplay and was second in points only to Alexei Kovalev. Our defense is a strong point because of him...


Staal is the one you can let go, he hasn't made a decent play all year. Unless you count the ones where he dances around 3 people only to muff the shot or miss the net completely, that's a nightly basis.

Go pens!