Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The NW at the Deadline - Looking Ahead to 2010-11

Heading into Tradeapalooza I decided to take a look at the longer term commitments for each of the teams in the Northwest Division. I will be comparing them against my own budgeting strategy to start and then describe some of the adjustments that I think they will need to make. The assumption that I have is that most teams will want to be planning for a cap of about 50M while at the same time allowing for the possibility of the cap falling further or of the cap maintaining its current level. The budget that I will be using will be as follows:

1st line – 30% or 15M (13.5M low and 16.5M high)

2nd line – 15% or 7.5M (6.75M low and 8.25 high)

Bot 7F and Bot 3D – 20% or 10M (9M low and 11M high)

Top 4D – 30% or 15M (13.5M low and 16.5M high)

2 Goalies – 5% or 2.5M (2.25M low and 2.75M high)

Calgary Flames

Iginla (7M) and Langkow (4.5M) = 11.5M

Backlund (1.3M) = 1.3M

Glencross (1.2M), Vandermeer (2.3M) and Giordano (0.9M) = 4.4M

Phaneuf (6.5M), Regehr (4M), Sarich (3.6M) = 14.1M

Kiprusoff (5.85M) = 5.85M

Looking at the Flames roster going forward they have clearly decided to budget differently than I would, allocating about 6.5M for their goalies. In order to do this they’re going to need to find space in other places. So where is this money going to come from? Well, the top two forwards look to be set in stone. Both are excellent players signed for market value contracts or better. There is enough money in the budget to fill that line with a capable free agent addition (3.5M) and if need be that amount can be somewhat reduced if the cap sees itself fall. I think Cammalleri should be as good as gone from the Flames in the off season both because the flexibility going forward is valuable and because he will probably demand something north of the 3.5M that the Flames can realistically afford. The second line is where this team needs to look in order to save money, perhaps by promoting Glencross to that line item and then adding another player in the 1M dollar range thereby balancing the extra money being given to Kiprusoff. The top four D can be filled out nicely by promoting Giordano to that line item and staying within budget. If Sarich can be moved for a cheaper option, that would give the Flames some extra options and so should at least be considered. Regardless, the Flames do need to move Vandermeer. That 2.3M cap hit will get in the way of signing the quality depth players that have been driving the team’s results to this point in the season. The Flames have already showed a willingness to put some bad money in the minors, so ditching Vandermeer from the cap if not the payroll should be possible. Still, I think that should be one of their main tasks on deadline day. It will be interesting to see what the Flames will be able to afford to give guys like Bourque, Boyd and Moss who have all performed very well. With only about 14.5M to give for 12 spots (1 first line F, 1 second line F, 7 bottom F and 3 bottom D) some of those players may need to be moved while others come in.

Vancouver Canucks

No Commitments = 0M

Burrows (2M) = 2M

Hordichuk (0.75M) = 0.75M

Bieksa (3.75M), Salo (3.5M) and Edler (3.25M) = 10.5M

No Commitments = 0M

The Canucks have a huge amount of flexibility and should be able to capitalise on a down salary market going forward. The market is coming down at the perfect time for them to get Luongo (and Kesler) at a discounted price. The recently signed Burrows contract looks to put him solidly into a secondary role and into the core of the team. The defenders are all signed to contracts that should keep costs under control. Given Salo’s injury problems that contract is a bit of a concern but given their flexibility elsewhere, the Canucks are in very good shape. If the Sedin twins are resigned (in the 5-6M range) then the Canucks have a first line ready to go. If they aren’t they have tons of money in order to buy something of value (though really guys, you should be signing the Sedins). This team is in a very good position going forward and may well add an expensive forward at the deadline. If the Flyers really want to move a body and can’t find any takers for the lesser lights (Lupul, Briere) the Canucks might take a run at one of the better forwards (Gagne, Carter) either at the deadline or this summer.

Edmonton Oilers

Horcoff (5.5M), Hemsky (4.1M) and Penner (4.25M) = 13.85M

Nilsson (1.85M) = 1.85M

Moreau (2M), Stortini (0.7M), Staios (2.7M) = 5.4M

Visnovsky (5.6M), Souray (5.4M), Gilbert (4M) = 15M

No Commitments = 0M

I’ve addressed their situation heading into 2010 already but the quick recap involves Staios and Moreau leaving town pronto. Their contracts simply don’t fit into this pay scale. With the defence and top line budget already spent it looks like the Oilers will need to go cheap in net if they hope to retain the services of both Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. At this point, it looks like Denis Grebeshkov may not fit into the pay structure of this team, while Ladislav Smid may well get the bump into the top 4D. Also, 13.85M on a top line that outscores is excellent value. A trade that involves Dustin Penner will almost certainly be regretted. The Oilers cannot afford to bring in any big long-term contracts at this time, so Briere at the deadline or Hossa in the off-season should not happen.

Minnesota Wild

Bouchard (4.1M), Koivu (3.25) = 7.35M

Brunette (2.35M), Miettinen (2.35) = 4.7M

Gillies (1M) = 1M

Burns (3.55) and Schultz (3.5M) = 7.05M

Backstrom (6M) = 6M

I thought I knew you. Seriously. That Backstrom extension is a head-scratcher because if it weren’t for that these guys would be in great shape. As it stands they’re not in terrible shape because they can save some money in other areas because of the fabulous contracts they’ve negotiated with Koivu, Burns and Schultz. I’d imagine that they’ll take half of the money from each pile leaving about 12M left to be divided among one forward and two defenders. They could well be in the market for a big time addition, someone like Pronger, Hossa or Gaborik in the 6.5-7.5M range. If they had gone with Harding instead of Backstrom this would be even more true as they’d have about 3-4M extra dollars to spend on difference makers at those positions. Fools. That said, the three exceptional contracts already mentioned leave them in very good shape moving forward. They don’t really need to move anyone out at the deadline and can afford to bring some long-range salary in, so they might well be buyers of someone like Jordan Staal for their second line if they think they can make up the difference with their scrubs.

Colorado Avalanche

Smyth (6.25M), Stastny (6.6M) = 12.85M

No Commitments = 0M

No Commitments = 0M

Hannan (4.5M), Liles (4.2M) = 8.7M

No Commitments = 0M

This is a pretty interesting case. None of these contracts really scream value. They’re all either at or above value by my eye. That Scott Hannan contract looks terrible since he’s basically doing what Sauer did for them last year, except that (1) he’s not as good at it and (2) he’s twice as expensive. Two Names Liles is flat-out overpriced. Paying him is kind of like paying Two Names Bergeron. Liles may be a bit better than Bergeron was for the Oilers, but that “may” should really be “is” when you make 4.2M. So far this season he’s taking the soft and coming out on the bottom. The Smyth contract looks to be fair value but it’s certainly not good value and by 2010-11 I can’t imagine Smyth will be any better than he is today. If anything, he’ll be worse. Finally, Stastny has some chance of outperforming his deal but it’s nothing like what the Oilers got with Hemsky or the Wild have with Burns and Koivu. Basically, if these guys can unload everyone they have signed except for Stastny and start over, they should do it. They don’t really have cap problems, but they’re not in a strong position either to contend or to plan on contending for 2011. That sucks (for them). Plans for the deadline may actually be most interesting for the Avalanche. If I’m them, I’d be trying desperately to make a move for Bouwmeester. Something like Hannan, Liles, Svatos and a prospect/pick for Bouw and Boynton would do them a world of good. Plus, Florida might think it’s great in spite of the fact that it could screw them over long-term. Obviously it works best if they can actually sign Bouw but even if they don’t, they’re probably in better shape going forward.

2 comments:

Black Dog said...

Terrific stuff Scott.

So as for the Oilers. Smid and Grebeshkov to fill out the top four D? If Grebs is 3.5 and Smid ~ 2 then you're talking 15 million right about ballpark.

O'Sullivan slides in for Nilsson which bumps that up a little higher.

Agreed on Staios and Moreau.

Its doable - the unfortunate circumstance (well not unfortunate - they've done it to themselves) is that they won't be able to take advantage of other teams dumping salary or signing guys on the cheap like Vancouver will.

Scott said...

Yeah, Black Dog, It makes sense if they can get Grebs and Smid to take the top four slots if they can move Souray out. If they don't move Souray, then I think Grebs is going to be gone. It's really too bad that Grebs doesn't have another year because it would probably be easier to evaluate what we could afford to pay him if we knew where the cap was going to be. As it stands, it's going to be an educated guess.

As for Nilsson, if the cap moves down to 50M, one of he or Cogs is probably gone. Unless Cogs is asking for way too much money, I'm guessing that it's Nilsson.

And yeah, this division is going to be tough moving forward because both Minnesota and Vancouver are in prime position for some cheap buys.