Let the salary cap speculation begin! Again!
Gary Bettman says next year's NHL salary cap is projected to be $71.5M.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 26, 2015
The latest in a series of revisions to the salary cap estimate brought on by the fluctuating value of the Canadian dollar suggests that the cap will go up by about $2.5 million compared to this past season's cap. That's a welcome relief for many a team bumping up against the number.
But there's still plenty of opportunities for the Arizona Coyotes to play release valve to teams with cap issues.
The Chicago Blackhawks will be paying both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews $13.8 million next season, while they look at imminent contract raises for players like Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, and Brandon Saad. For the Philadelphia Flyers, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn will be restricted free agents after next season, with only a few pricier contracts coming off the books. In short, a number of teams have short and medium term decisions to make. And the Coyotes can help them make those decisions, in two ways.
The first, and far more likely option, is for the Coyotes to negotiate a trade or two to take on good players with bigger contracts. The Blackhawks could probably stand to lose Bryan Bickell and his $4 million cap hit, while the Boston Bruins might be persuaded to part with someone like Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic.
These would be good short-term fixes for both teams: the other NHL team would get immediate cap relief to re-sign RFAs or bring in cheaper UFAs, while the Coyotes would upgrade their anemic offense.
The other option is far less likely, but also far more intriguing. The Coyotes could engage in offer-sheet warfare with many pending restricted free agents. Brandon Saad has become a hot commodity over the past couple of seasons, while Tyler Toffoli has been a solid contributor for the Los Angeles Kings.
Theoretically, the Coyotes could sign these players to offer sheets that would be difficult, if not impossible, for their current clubs to match. And with the number of high draft picks the Coyotes have accumulated, they could stomach the compensation too.
This path is far less likely to happen because, though their officially is no collusion among NHL General Managers with regards to offer sheets, the fact that they occur so rarely despite so many good players signing RFA deals strongly implies that no GM wants to step on another's toes. So while the offer sheet route is intriguing, it's also likely a pipe dream.
- Consider this:
New Rule: You eliminate a team from the playoffs, you get to pick 1 player to join your team the rest of the way. #SpoilsOfWar— AJTYG (@Yotesgurl) April 26, 2015
- This actually would be a really neat concept for the NHL playoffs. Imagine the New York Rangers playing with one of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, or the Chicago Blackhawks taking Seth Jones or Shea Weber.
- Team USA won the gold medal in the Under-18 World Championships this past weekend, defeating Canada in the semi-finals and Finland in the final.
- Outside of the Olympics, the United States doesn't really seem to take a keen interest in international hockey, despite the fact that some of Team USA Men's biggest successes have been at international tournaments outside of the Olympic games.
- Will the World Cup of Hockey - and the fact that its broadcasting rights are held by ESPN - spur American interest in international play? Perhaps. If it stays in North America, that would help too.