Devils Carefully Navigating the Salary Cap

Devils Carefully Navigating the Salary Cap
Chris Wassel

The days of thr New Jersey Devils being a cap team seem to be over. In fact, the team has some work to do to get over the salary cap floor. They won’t come anywhere close to the $71.4 million limit though.

So just how much will the team spend? Let’s attempt to tackle this while giving people an idea of what might occur.

New Jersey is not in that bad of shape. They won’t have to resort to some of the crazy tactics that we have recently seen in Arizona, Florida, and Buffalo. Here is what General Fanager has the Devils listed at.

  • $51,029,165 — Salary Cap Hit
  • $20,370,835 — Salary Cap Space
  • -$1,770,835 — Salary Floor Space

They have more or less conceded that this year and possibly next year are part of a bigger rebuild than they had previously led fans to believe. That will create some controversy but this is not the whole story.

Ryane Clowe‘s big cap hit will come off the books once the Devils can place him on the LTIR, which seems like a foregone conclusion. That is a huge $4.85 million and that balloons the Jersey floor gap to $6.62 million or so. It is unfortunate that concussions have derailed Clowe’s careerm but in a way the cap relief that was once a positive is now a little problematic.

The bottom line is that if the player really is not able to avoid injury, then it might be time to retire. The Devils right winger is likely mulling this over as we speak. Every prognosis seems to indicate a career without further concussions is very improbable. One way or the other, his salary will come off the books as a formality.


Some Other Factors To Be Considered

At some point sixth-overall pick Pavel Zacha will sign his entry level contract with New Jersey. Expect that to be in the $800,000 to $900,000 range plus bonuses, etc.

The forward is a key building block in the rebuild and he may see time in New Jersey sooner rather than laer. That might squeeze out an existing forward, which would bring the cap number down again. Training camp will be competitive as a handful of of spots are up for grabs and not much is certain.

Bryce Salvador’s days in New Jersey appear numbered unless there is a courtesy professional tryout contract. Among the other defensemen, Adam Larsson will get a new offer that will be a significant raise in pay and then there is Eric Gelinas. Gelinas has been the subject of many trade rumors partially due to his run-ins with management. Now if he is not traded, what should his salary be?

The prognosis looks to be somewhere in the $1.5 to $2 million a year range for two or three years.

As for Larsson, he may get double that or more. Another question may also be whether one of New Jersey’s AHL defensemen gets called up over Mark FraserThat is a possibility. That would be a call-up that would be around $550,000 to $750,000 more than likely.

Then there is Stefan Matteau. Matteau will be qualified but should not see that significant of a raise. Does he see more than $1.5 million? That is a tough call but say he gets $1.25 million or a hair less, that is again characteristic of a team with a lower cap number. Seth Helgeson is the fourth New Jersey RFA and figures to see a slight bump up but still below $1 million.


Adding It All Up

Consider that New Jersey has $51 million towards the cap already and add in about $7 million for RFA signings and that comes out to around the $58-59 million dollar range. Ray Shero has clearly stated that he is not done yet so there may be a trade in the works.

If that is actually the case or an additional UFA signing or two pops out of nowhere, the projection number would rise up to the $63-$65 million level. Then subtracting Clowe brings the number back down around $60 million. That is a good bit lower than previous years for New Jersey and the low 60’s may be a cap hit that the Devils stay at for 2016-17 as well.

This is a Devils team that may even pare down a bit more salary during the season.

  • Steve Ives

    Awesome work as always, Mr.Wassel! I think a possible solution to this would be to sign a guy like Alex Semin to a one-year deal. Though Semin’s problem has seemed to be motivation (as ex-teammates have spoken out on), a one-year deal might light a fire under this immense talent’s posterior to earn a new multi-year deal. If he has a decent year, the Devils can flip him for future assets at the deadline to a team with better Stanley Cup chances.

Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn't quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don't write for. For Today's Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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