New Jersey's Cap Situation After the Kovalcalypse

Since the New York Post insists on printing these things, I guess I should pretend to take them seriously. The latest is that Lou Lamoriello has offered Ilya Kovalchuk the $10MM/yr he's looking for. So let's review:

  • New Jersey has $4-5MM in cap space.
  • In the summer you get an extra 10% of the upper limit. That's $5.94MM.
  • But you have to get back down below the cap by the end of training camp.
  • If the Devils use their remaining cap space and their smallish bonus cushion and all of the 10% overage, they've got about $10MM in cap hit that they can absorb.
  • After which they would have to go on a salary dumping frenzy, to the tune of at least $7MM net. That's the $5.94MM overage they have to give back, plus at minimum $500K for each player they dump (since they have to replace said dumpee with the cheapest possible replacement).

So let's go to Cap Geek and see what the Devilchuks look like:

(I promoted the cheapest guys I could find to fill out a roster of 12 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies; your results may vary, but they won't have a lower cap hit.)

2010-11 New Jersey Devils
PLAYER BONUS CAP HIT
FORWARDS
* Ilya Kovalchuk $10,000,000
Patrik Elias $6,000,000
Brian Rolston $5,062,500
Jason Arnott $4,500,000
Travis Zajac $3,887,500
Dainius Zubrus $3,400,000
Zach Parise $3,125,000
Jamie Langenbrunner $2,800,000
David Clarkson $2,666,667
Vladimir Zharkov ($240,000) $850,000
Jean-Sebastien Berube $531,667
P-L Letourneau-Leblond $525,000
DEFENSEMEN
Anton Volchenkov $4,250,000
Henrik Tallinder $3,375,000
Colin White $3,000,000
Bryce Salvador $2,900,000
Andy Greene $737,500
Anssi Salmela $612,500
Dan Kelly $583,333
GOALTENDERS
Martin Brodeur $5,200,000
Johan Hedberg ($500,000) $1,500,000
BUYOUTS
Jay Pandolfo $833,333
Andrew Peters $166,667
LOST VIA REENTRY WAIVERS
NONE
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS
ROSTER SIZE 21
SALARY CAP $59,400,000
PAYROLL $66,506,667
BONUSES $740,000
CAP SPACE $-6,366,667

 

Okay, so they're $6.4MM over, $7.1MM over if you exclude the bonus cushion, but let's go with the more generous figure. How to shed $6.4MM in salary...hmm...okay. I'm just going to look at them coldly, as numbers. To see what adds up.

  • Brodeur, Elias, Rolston, Arnott, Langenbrunner, Volchenkov, White and Hedberg all have NTC/NMCs. And I don't see why any of them would want to willingly leave the Devilchuks. So cross them off.
  • Zajac ($3.9), Tallinder ($3.4), Zubrus ($3.4), Parise ($3.125), Salvador ($2.9), Clarkson ($2.7), those are the candidates. The rest don't make enough to make a difference.
  • Tallinder just signed last week, so it would be cruel and/or weird to deal him, but stranger things have happened (I suppose; I can't think of any, but I'm sure at some point...).
  • If you trade the two most expensive guys away for picks, you subtract Zajac and Tallinder's $7.3MM, and add two minimum wage players to take their places. Let's see what that gets you...back to Cap Geek...survey says:

Nope. Still $156K over, using all of your bonus cushion ($740K). So even dumping the two most expensive guys, you're still going to have to move someone else. Someone who makes at least $800K. You could dump Greene or Zharkov, and you would be over the cap ceiling by just a little less than your total bonus cushion. Which is insanely tight. But at least then you wouldn't be in circumvention of the CBA. So that's one option:

Option #1: trade Zajac and Tallinder for picks, get rid of Greene or Zharkov however you want (I chose Zharkov), use all of bonus cushion, enjoy your $98K in cap space and a roster that includes eight minimum wage employees and only 12 forwards so I hope no one gets hurt. And the team looks like this:

* Ilya Kovalchuk $10,000,000
Patrik Elias $6,000,000
Brian Rolston $5,062,500
Jason Arnott $4,500,000
Dainius Zubrus $3,400,000
Zach Parise $3,125,000
Jamie Langenbrunner $2,800,000
David Clarkson $2,666,667
Michael Swift $541,667
Jean-Sebastien Berube $531,667
P-L Letourneau-Leblond $525,000
Nathan Perkovich $515,000
DEFENSEMEN
Anton Volchenkov $4,250,000
Colin White $3,000,000
Bryce Salvador $2,900,000
Andy Greene $737,500
Harry Young $536,667
Matthew Taormina $510,000
Rob Davison $500,000
GOALTENDERS
Martin Brodeur $5,200,000
Johan Hedberg ($500,000) $1,500,000
BUYOUTS
Jay Pandolfo $833,333
Andrew Peters $166,667
LOST VIA REENTRY WAIVERS
NONE
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS
ROSTER SIZE 21
SALARY CAP $59,400,000
PAYROLL $59,801,667
BONUSES $500,000
CAP SPACE $98,333

 

I think that looks terrible. Plus, how stupid would it be to sign Tallinder and trade him for picks in the same summer? Let's see if there's another way.

How about getting rid of Salvador and Clarkson? They're cheaper, so that's a problem. But they're also not as good. So, trade those two for picks. Savings, $5.6MM. But you have to replace them with two cheap bodies. So that's really only a savings of $4.5MM. Another $1.9MM to go (which means $2.5MM when you figure in the minimum wage replacement). Anyone make $2.4MM? No. So that's not so good. Okay, it's Zubrus, I guess. $3.4MM. So let's go back to Cap Geek:

Okay, that gives you $260K in cap space. Call it Option #2.

Option #2: trade Zubrus, Salvador and Clarkson for picks and/or prospects, enjoy your $260K in cap space and a roster that includes eight minimum wage employees and only 12 forwards so I hope no one gets hurt. I can't tell if that's better or worse than #1.

And then there's

Option #3: Try to talk one of the NTC guys to agree to take the bullet.

Any other ideas? Does this sound like a good plan? Eight or nine guys making $500K-800K?

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