By Bob Trask – Earlier I took a look at the Habs salary cap situation an outlined a couple of options available to Kent Hughes. Today, I am presenting a hypothetical season-opening roster with the following assumptions:
- Jesse Ylonen and Alex Newhook will sign for the approximate amounts estimated by AFP Analytics
- Carey Price will be placed on LTIR
- Mike Hoffman, Chris Wideman and Rem Pitlick will be assigned to Laval if no trades are made
|18||Jesse Ylonen (estimated)||$875,000|
|21||Alex Newhook (estimated)||$2,260,000|
|Mike Hoffman ($1.15M buried)||$3,350,000|
|Rem Pitlick (contract buried)||$0|
|Chris Wideman (contract buried)||$0|
|Bonus overage penalty||$1,170,000|
This roster would have a cap hit of $73,731,666 leaving the Canadiens with $8,768,344 in cap space. If Price’s contract is added in to the totals, the cap hit would be $84,231,66 or above the season opening cap limit by $1,731,666.
Should the Canadiens want to maximize their LTIR flexibility, they could try to come as close as possible to the $82.5M cap limit on the opening day roster including Price’s contract. That would mean reducing the roster by $1,731,666 or as little above that as possible. How could that be done?
If Kent Hughes assigned Juraj Slafkovsky and Arber Xhekaj to Laval, the team would save $1,778,333 and put them within $46,667 of the salary cap. Both are ineligible for waivers so there would no risk in losing either player. It would leave the Canadiens with a roster of 22 players, one under the league maximum.
While it seems counter-intuitive to send two of your most promising young players to the AHL, it would be a paper transaction only. Once the season got underway, Price would be destined to LTIR while Slafkovsky and Xhekaj would reassume their positions on the Canadiens roster and bring the roster back up to a full complement of 23 players.
The end result is a massive amount of cap space. Hughes could use that at the trade deadline to acquire a player the Habs might desire or he could weaponize that cap space as a third party to facilitate a trade between two cash strapped teams.
The caveat is that another off-season trade could make this entire scenario irrelevant. But the goal here isn’t to predict the outcomes, it is to shed some light on some of the options the Canadiens’ disposal.