Looking Ahead in a Salary Cap World


The Minnesota Wild, like all other teams, have to analyze how every move will impact them not only this season, but in the coming seasons. Today Brian Rolston was placed on waivers by the New Jersey Devils and immediately fans began asking if the Minnesota Wild would claim him. The problem is he has a $5m cap hit not only for this season, but next season. Even if he were put through re-entry waivers that’s still $2.5m that would then be unavailable to spend on free agents.

I like Brian Rolston and I think he could help the Wild, but his cap hit and the extra year on his deal means that it would end up hurting the Wild more in the long run. However, I thought it would be fun to use CapGeek.com’s Cap Calculator to take a look at what the future holds for the Wild in regards to contracts and cap space. Join me after the jump.

For the purposes of this blog I’m going to project the cap at $62.1 million. This was decided by increasing the salary cap at close to the same percentage it increased last season. The Wild have 6 key contracts expiring: Antti Miettinen, Andrew Brunette, Chuck Kobasew, John Madden, Josh Harding, and Jose Theodore. I am going to assume that none of these players will be re-signed prior to free agency. So with returning contracts this is what the Wild’s roster looks like:

That leaves the Wild $11,673,890 in cap space before any Restricted Free Agents are considered. The Wild will need a 2nd goalie. I predict that Dennis Endras, Anton Khudobin, or Matt Hackett will fill that spot. I am going to pick Endras and give him his current cap hit of 900K. Hackett has the same cap hit while Khudobin would almost certainly get a raise to near that amount. I also would put Casey Wellman in the lineup for next season. His cap hit will likely come down from his current hit of 1.35m because that includes bonuses. I’m going to put him at 900K.

No one has really stepped up to claim the 6-7 spots on the blue line, but the Wild are blessed with depth and they have a number of guys who could fill the role. Also, there really is not much difference in the cap hits of those players. To be safe though I am going to pick two of the more expensive players, Justin Falk and Marco Scandella. Scandella has a cap hit of 846k and while Falk is an RFA I’m going to use his current cap hit of 742K. Lastly I’m going to fill out the forward group with Matt Kassian and Cody Almond. These spots could be filled by anyone currently in the system or a cheap free agent. Here is what the Roster looks like now:

At this point the Wild have $8,509,724 to spend on free agents or on players acquired by trade. I imagine that Chuck Fletcher will definitely make moves to improve the defense and I don’t see Cam Barker as a part of this team past the draft. While his play may not attract much attention his contract becomes an “expiring contract” next season which means he will be easier to move especially if the Wild can take salary back in a trade. I, and everyone who follows the Wild, would really like to see Fletcher add 1 or 2 goal scoring wingers with that money.

However you break it down, and even if you don’t like my numbers, this is the most cap space Fletcher has had to work with in his tenure as GM and it certainly shouldn’t be wasted on bad contracts or half of a bad contract. Hopefully he can make the most of it and improve this team.

Tags: Andrew Brunette Antti Miettinen Brent Burns Brian Rolston Cal Clutterbuck Cam Barker Casey Wellman Chuck Fletcher Chuck Kobasew Eric Nystrom Greg Zanon Guillaume Latendresse John Madden Jose Theodore Josh Harding Justin Falk Kyle Brodziak Marek Zidlicky Martin Havlat Matt Cullen Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild New Jersey Devils Nick Schultz Niklas Backstrom Pierre-Marc Bouchard Todd Richards