6/30 UPDATE: Please see Can You Afford Kovalchuk NOW?
Four days till Thursday. Lots of time for everyone to twist themselves into pretzels. I keep hearing how much cap space the Kings have and how they/we are the "front-runners" to land Kovalchuk. Frankly, I'm not sure what front-runner means in this context, other than I guess they have to say there is one.
I will take a different approach. Take a team's current cap hit, add in a very low estimate for any RFAs the team is generally thought to be re-signing (in the Kings' case, it's Richardson and Lewis), and then add in $8.5MM cap hit for Ilya Kovalchuk, and see where that gets you, cap-wise.
The teams in red are the ones who simply can't sign Kovalchuk because doing so puts them seriously over the cap. (My definition of "seriously over the cap" in this context is, "team has several players yet to sign to get to a full roster and zero dollars per player to do it with.")
Teams in orange would be foolish to try to add a Kovalchuk cap-hit to their rosters, but they could sort of almost just barely do it. The orange teams would be putting themselves in the position of having to fill out their roster with several players who make "minimum wage."
Teams in yellow can do it and will still have $1-2MM left over per player they need to sign. Teams in green have more than $2MM per player left to sign (or else would already have a full roster), and so are obviously in the best position of all the teams.
Atlanta is in black, because he's not signing there.
Columns: CAP = cap hit; SGN = players signed; C-Sp = cap space; /P22 = cap space per player left to sign to get to a roster of 22; /P20 is the same thing but for a minimum roster of 20; LTS = left to sign; LTS22 = number of players left to sign to get to a roster of 22; C-Sp(bonus) = cap space when adding in the bonus cushion; #FA = the number of RFAs or UFAs I am subjectively determining the team is likely to sign; $FA is a ballpark (minimum) that those players are going to cost; (FA) suffix means the calculation assumes the free agents previously estimated; (IK) suffix indicates that the calculation includes Kovalchuk at an $8.5MM cap hit. BC! suffix indicates the number assumes the GM has insanely decided to spend his bonus cushion.
The charts are sorted by draft rank, with the best teams at the top. I did it this way because it is assumed Kovalchuk wants to sign with a "contender." There is a lot of information here, but the most important stuff is in the last four columns (in either chart, but more legible in the second chart). Those show what each team's cap situation would be like post-Kovalchuk (with minimal RFA signings), in terms of cap hit, cap space, players left to sign and cap dollars left for each of those players needing to be signed.
The first chart is exhaustive and you need to click on it to open a bigger, legible version. The second chart is boiled down (same stuff, fewer columns).
- Washington - they are in a much better position to be Kovalchuked than I would have thought. This is mildly terrifying. I have to think there is a reason they won't go for it.
- New Jersey is very high on the list. For some reason, I have mentally ruled them out, but obviously they haven't ruled themselves out or they would have traded Lombardi the negotiating rights.
- Basically, everyone in green and yellow are viable. Thirteen teams. Four (orange) that shouldn't but could. And twelve that, as it stands, just can't. (And one Atlanta.)
- The Kings are by no means the team in the best cap position to sign Kovalchuk. In fact, they are 13th. As sorting by "cap space remaining per player left to be signed to get to a full roster" illustrates.