By Bob Trask – Now that the NHL salary cap has been set at $83.5 million for the 2023-24 season, we can take a closer look at the situation for the Montreal Canadiens. For the purposes of this article, I have taken the salary cap information for signed players from Cap Friendly and the projected contracts for unsigned players from AFP Analytics.
The first thing you might notice is that this list consists of 27 players and a full NHL roster is only 23 players. The second thing you might notice is that the salary of Carey Price is included in the totals. With that in mind, it is important to remember that teams can be 10% over the cap during the summer pushing the limit to $91.85 million over the summer months.
Don’t worry too much about positions. Left wingers can often play right wing and vice versa. And some players listed as wingers here also play center.
Here are the cap numbers:
|Alex Newhook (estimated)||$2,260,000|
|Jesse Ylonen (estimated)||$875,000|
|Joel Edmundson (retained)||$1,750,000|
|Karl Alzner (buyout)||$833,333|
The total for all of these cap expenses, including Price’s contract and the estimates for Newhook and Ylonen, is $87,244,166 which is well within the 10% overage limit for the off-season. Moving Carey Price’s contract to LTIR would drop the total salary commitment down to $76,744,166 and well within the $83.5M salary cap for 2023-24.
However that would still leave the Habs with 26 contracts and the regular season limit is 23. If Montreal demoted their 3 smallest salaries in order to reach the roster limit, the cap hit would be reduced by another $2,341,667 to $74,402,499 – well within the $83.M cap limit.
Another approach could be to bury three veteran salaries in the AHL. If, for example, those were the salaries of Mike Hoffman, Joel Armia and Chris Wideman, Montreal could bury $1.15M for each of Hoffman and Armia while they could bury the full $762,500 for Wideman. In this case the cap hit would be reduced by $3,062,500 to $73,681,666.
All of these moves can be made without the need for a trade. Ideally, Montreal would like to get under the $83.5M including Price’s contract for the season opener. That can provide some benefits on how LTIR is applied to the cap. In order to achieve that, however, would require a trade or two that would see the Canadiens shed some salary without taking back too much in return.
These ideas are just an example of the wide range of options available to the Canadiens as they try to manage the salary cap to their advantage. Over the next 3 months expect to see Kent Hughes use this cap flexibility in an effort to improve the Canadiens in the short term and the long term.
The good news is that Kent Hughes faces minimal cap challenges this year but he also needs to keep an eye on contracts he will have to negotiate in the following years.