YK Oil had a nice post on HF with respect the Oilers squad next year. This inspired me to analyze the Oilers cap numbers for next season. I will quote his post here, and then discuss the cap situation for 2008-2009.
The issues are many but the biggest one imo is Horcoff returning healthy.
- we know Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky is a good outscoring #1 line
- we know the kids should make a fantastic #2 soft minute line
- we know Torres or Moreau and Pisani make for a good 3rd line
- we know Glencross - Brodziak - Stortini make a good, competitive, 4th line
Hence it revolves, first, around Horcoff. If he is good to go next year then our forward lines, oddly enough, should take care of themselves.
It's no secret that we absolutely need Horcoff to be healthy. I don't think over the long run (as good as the Oilers have been recently), this team could survive without him.
While YKOIL's list seems great on paper, I wonder how the Oilers will fare next year with respect to injuries. On those hilly grounds, I sense we should bring back insurance in Marty Reasoner for another year at similar salary.
POSSIBILITY TO DIP INTO THE UFA MARKET
There's always the risk of one of the younger players hitting in a slump in their sophomore season. For that reason, it may be wise to add another top 6 player with more NHL experience. Cory Stillman, Brian Rolston, Martin Straka, Radim Vrbata, Brendan Shannahan, Vaclav Prospal, David Vyborny, Kristian Huselius should all be options looked upon in the UFA market. Is there enough room in the cap to allow such a move? Lets go on a voyage and find out.
The salary cap in 2008-2009 will be ~54-55M. Lets use the average and dub it 54.5M The Oilers have 33.714M committed, with Pitkanen, Grebeskhov, Gilbert, Pouliot, Glencross, Nilsson, Stortini, Stoll, Reasoner, Sanderson to sign (or replace). Of course this adds up to 16 forwards - so the Oilers will presumably let Sanderson and another forward go.
4.000M for Pitkanen, 1.750M to Grebeshkov, 2.500M to Gilbert, 0.650M to Pouliot (one way), 1.000M to Glencross, 1.750M to Nilsson, .700M to Stortini, and 2.500M to Stoll. If Reasoner is brought back, he's making .900M, and the unlikely event Sanderson is brought back, .850M.
Making the assumption the Oilers don't bring back Sanderson, and decide to keep Pouliot over Reasoner - we're at 14.850M to the RFA's/UFA's.
Lets assume my numbers are too generous. Gilbert gets 3M. Nilsson 2.250M. Stortini gets .715M. TOTAL: 1.15M net addition.
We're at 16.000M
THE CALCULATION OF OVERALL CAP HIT
That's around 33.714M + 16.000M + 1.000M bonus cushion (Gagner and Cogliano) = 50.714M with 14 forwards, 8 defenceman, and 2 goalies. You bury Mathieau Roy's salary in the minors, and you're left with 50.214M and a sufficient 7 defenceman.
THE CAP ISN'T A SNAPSHOT! IT'S A MOVIE!
Salary management must take into account of the future years' cap situation. Horcoff should be locked up this summer, and will likely receive north of 5M+. If the Oilers brass is confident in Garon, he too will get a sizable raise, perhaps in the Ilya Bryzgalov territory (4.25M). Losing Roloson's 3.6667M cap hit will help, but will not be enough on a stand alone basis.
All signs point out to Jarrett Stoll being moved. Other possibilities are Torres, Moreau, or Staios.
Stoll is set to become a UFA in 1 year, possibly long term injury issues, lack of offense on EV (only 8 points this year), and a good core of young centers within the organization. No sugar coating the fact that losing him hurts the PP - but at the same time, there are limited options - you either sign him to a 1 year deal, or 3+ year deal. Unless you can get him to sign a long term deal with a minimal raise, all signs point out to a shorter term deal being logical. Perhaps he WILL bounce back to the player he was pre-concussion - holding his fort at EV, though not taking advantage of the soft minutes. If he's traded, perhaps a draft day deal including him with the Anaheim's 1st to move up should be looked at.
I'd wouldn't mind moving Moreau. He's a quality player, but I don't believe that he's anywhere near performing his contract figure. It's been 3 years since the lockout, and he's had trouble staying healthy throughout those years. That 2M of cap space is better served with Glencross who is half the price,similar results, and half the number of "Lloyd Christmas-esque dumb" penalties.
Torres is an interesting player. He seems to have issues with consistency, but his production is mostly on EV. Something that's probably more valuable than the 2007-2008 Jarrett Stoll.
Staios is a veteran defenceman that I'd imagine Lowe wants to keep around for a little while longer before some of the younger defenceman prove night in and night out that he is redundant in the organization.
Whatever the case, I expect at least one of these 4 to be moved by the summer of 2009 (possibly 2) in an effort to increase flexibility for the Horcoff/Garon extensions, and then the soon to be "ineligible for team elected arbitration" Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano in the summer of 2010.
BACK TO THE QUESTION - A PLAYA IN THE UFA MARKET?
With an estimated 50.214M committed - that leaves effectively [54.5M CAP -50.214M committed - 2.5M (~5%) Cushion space for injuries/trades = a whopping 1.786M to spend ]
Certainly not enough to make a big play in July.
Unless the Oilers unload a mid-range salary (i.e. Stoll, Torres, Moreau, Staios), they simply won't have the flexibility to dip into the UFA market. If the Oilers do decide to move one of those guys and jump in the free agent market, they must stick to short term contracts (no > than 2 years) as they need to keep the flexibility for Horcoff/Garon/Gagner/Cogliano extensions.
Guys like Cory Stillman, Brian Rolston, Martin Straka, Radim Vrbata, Brendan Shannahan, David Vyborny, Michael Ryder, Ladislav Nagy *may* fit this catagory.
The Souray contract certainly isn't looking good at the moment. And right now you almost wish Kevin Lowe have signed Ladislav Nagy for a 1 year, 5.5M contract and kept the picks over Dustin Penner (who showed minimal progression over last season and is looking more of a complimentary player every counting day).
It will be an interesting summer. Salary cap (or budget) management is something all GM's must engage in. Manage it well, and you will likely see the results in the points column. Screw it up...and well...you're screwed.