Florida Panthers and the Salary Cap heading into Draft Day/Free Agency
Now that the first trade of the offseason has gone down, thought it might be high time for a look at Florida's salary cap situation going into the Entry Draft/Free Agency period.
The 2009-10 "Cap" and "Floor" have not yet been released; these will be published next week. Going by NHLSCAP.com, we'll use current numbers:
The Upper Limit: $56,700,000 The Lower Limit: $40,700,000
While Randy Sexton and his Sunrise Warriors ponder their opportunities over the coming weeks, we'll take a peek at where the Cats are - on paper - and what it may mean for the direction of the club. Simply for informational purposes.
- Horton, N. RW (4,000,000)
- Stillman, C. LW (3,533,333)
- Olesz, R. LW/C (3,125,000)
- Weiss, S. C (3,100,000)
- Reinprecht, S. C (2,050,000)
- McLean, B. C (1,700,000)
- Frolik, M. W/C (1,275,000)
- Campbell, G. C (762,500)
- Kreps, K. C (682,500)
- Tarnasky, N. LW/C (525,000)
- McCabe, B. (5,750,000)
- Ballard, K. (4,200,000)
- Allen, B. (2,900,000)/
Steve Eminger - who only got a cup of coffee with the club after the trade deadline - is an RFA, but there's no reason to suspect he will not be retained at or near the $1.2M he received in 2009. He was Tampa Bay's number one defenseman during his time in that city, and was a top four in Washington for several years before the ascension of Norris Trophy
snub Mike Green.
As for the others under contract, we know them well, and what to expect from a better-than-average core. McCabe's the quarterback, Ballard the puck-mover, and Allen the stay-at-home. There will be trepidation going into camp with Allen, of course, having played the better part of only two games at the start of last season. He's a pro: he knows the drill.
Filling the other three spots could prove tricky maneuvering. I've been a fan of Karlis Skrastins since the day he arrived here 18 months ago, and he's been a steady force behind outgoing Jay Bouwmeester, but there's the quandary: did Skras' natural abilities complement Bouw, or was Jay just that much better, covering deficiencies we wouldn't otherwise see? I tend to side with Skrastins being a much more complete player than he's given credit for. He was the NHL's ironman, not too long ago, so you'll get what you pay for. Is he worth $2.4M as a fourth or fifth defenseman? There's the question.
Nick Boynton's situation with the club has been covered a hundred times. It's safe to assume - no matter what's been said publicly - that Coach DeBoer will not be welcoming him back in September. And there are close to three million rea$on$ why. Rapidly aging but rock-steady Jassen Cullimore - is a phenomenal bargain (less than $1M) as a sixth or seventh defenseman, but is this a spot which should be fought for by the likes of Keaton Ellerby and Jason Garrison? Perhaps Cullimore is the perfect partner for one. In any event the Cats will be looking for the services of at least one top-four D-man this summer.
Jonesed: The Beach
- Vokoun, T. (5,700,000)/
And now we come to the Panthers' personal "Bay of Pigs": goaltending. UFA Craig Anderson was undeniably the best performance-per-dollar player in the National Hockey League last season. At $550,000, his 15-7-5 and three shutouts were spectacular stats. He's due a very considerable raise, and has voiced his desire to become a starter. Somewhere. Two year deal for $3.5M? Who knows. What we do know is he will not be returning to Florida as a backup.
Veteran Tomas Vokoun remains one of the game's great netminders, but he slid down the strech and was unable to convey any sort of confidence among those playing in front of him; there were rumblings the team was just flat-out "better" with Andy in net. T-Vo lost several games which his club had already ostensibly "won" for him late in the season, though ended with 26-6-6 and six shutouts. That's not even close to a lost cause. But give Anderson 60+ starts and the team will be rolling the dice...the payoff may be grand, and far less expensive.
Florida will have a new secondary no matter what, though no one in the system is up to the task beyond Andy, unless a heroic jump in progress is made by either Tyler Plante or Chris Beckford-Tseu. Don't count on that happening. Not now, probably not ever. David Shantz is cooked as a UFA, so count him out. Only European super-rookie Jacob Markstrom is on the horizon, and that remains a year away.
Jonesed: Shantz, Plante
Total committed cap hit for 2009-10 (as of 06/20/09): $39,303,333
- Eminger, S. D (1,200,000)
- Booth, D. LW (700,000)
- Stewart, A. C (522,500)/
Digging a bit deeper, here's the story from Rochester/Florida (ECHL):
- Sweetland, A. C (1,030,000)
- McArdle, K. LW (850,000)
- Repik, M. RW (845,833)
- Matthias, S. C (821,667)
- Collins, D. RW (628,333)
- Calla, B. RW (603,333)
- Duco, M. C (546,667)/
- Glass, T. LW (570,000)
- Larman, D. C (500,000)/
So Panthers fans: only a few days left for some of these guys in Florida's system. Which should make the cut? Who shouldn't? And which players from around the league should be targeted by the club? Let's have your opinions on this always-traumatic time for fans, players, and management alike. Where do the Cats go organizationally?