With just about every story not already covered by other outlets exhausted, this week's Duck Puck discusses a question that has been posed all summer long.
How will the Ducks get under the salary cap?
Currently, Anaheim's payroll for the 2008-09 season sits at roughly $59.9 million, or about $3.2 million over the new $56.7 million cap. While this alone seems like a hefty amount of dough to get rid of, fans must also remember that teams have their own, self-imposed caps. For the Ducks, the magic number is $50 million - meaning that by October, the team needs to shed almost $10 million to reach its target. And oh yeah, there's still that whole business of signing that guy named Teemu, who'll likely command at least $2 million in base salary (and even that's a bit of a stretch).
Realistically, GM Brian Burke will probably be allowed to exceed the $50 million budget by up to $3 million, meaning that the Ducks really only - and I use the word "only" loosely - need to get rid of approximately $7 million worth of personnel.
So now the question is who will be migrating to another frozen pond? Mathieu Schneider has been the most popular answer to this common query, but let's actually analyze the roster and see why this should or should not be the case.
First, we should define the players that make up that $59.9 million figure:
Getzlaf, Perry, Kunitz, Morrison, Marchant, R. Niedermayer, Ryan, Pahlsson, Moen, Sutherby, Carter, May, Parros
S. Niedermayer, Pronger, Schneider, Beauchemin, O'Donnell, Montador, Huskins
Let's start with the obvious. Every team needs a goalie, so Giguere is out, and even Marty Brodeur can't play 82 games (though I'm sure he would if the Devils allowed him to), so Hiller's out, too. It would be foolish to get rid of anyone who was just signed this summer, so Morrison and Montador are safe, as well. Finally, any good GM knows that you have to think long-term, so the future - namely Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan - is staying put.
One can argue that Beauchemin and Kunitz belong in that last category, but for the purposes of this exercise, I'm putting them in the young-and-skilled-yet-tradable column, for lake of a better name. Believe me, I love how a "throw-in" in the Fedorov trade has progressed into a top-four blueliner and I was one of the angriest customers when a Hobey Baker finalist was waived, but they're still not quite in the same category as the big three.
Anyway, with $7 million to clear, it would be virtually pointless to drop anyone making less than seven digits, eliminating Moen, Sutherby, Carter, May, Parros and Huskins.
Next, one of the keys to Anaheim's post-lockout success is its team defense, particularly its ability to shut down the opposition. For this reason, Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and O'Donnell are quite literally no-gos. Yes, you could say that Robby's a bit overpaid, but his speed, size and defensive awareness are skills you generally cannot teach. And yes, you could say that O'Donnell could be replaced by another shutdown D-man much like he essentially replaced Keith Carney, but any such blueliner would come at a negligibly lower price and might not have the vital chemistry that he shares with Pronger.
On the other side of the puck, creating offense has been a real issue for the defensively-sound Ducks, so giving the boot to any guys capable of putting points on the board would only be counter-productive to the Cup cause. This would appear to cover the rest of the team except one lonely duckling - Todd Marchant.
A closer look, however, reveals that Scott Niedermayer and Schneider essentially
play the same role. In fact, as all Duck fans know, the main reason Mathieu was brought in was as an insurance policy for the potentially-retired Scotty. Having two offensively-gifted blueliners is usually not a problem, but when each is making over $5 million and your cap space is a negative number, one of them has to go. With all due respect to Schnieds, this is a no-brainer - Scotty is younger, faster, better defensively and is pretty much one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the game.
So now we're left with a final four of Kunitz, Marchant, Schneider and Beauchemin. We already established that #11 is the first unfortunate victim of a cap world, but his $5.625 million falls $1.375 million short of the (un)lucky 7 we're looking to clear. All three of the remaining candidates make enough to reach our magic number, but on second thought, trading away a guy capable of mustering up at least 50 points every year would be a shame, especially for an offensively-starved hockey club. So Kunitz, whose services come at a relative bargain for the next four years, is out of the picture after all.
With only Marchant and Beauchemin left, we have another no-brainer, but for argument's sake let's break things down the way we did when deciding between Nieds and Schneids. Beauchemin and Marchant are on the opposite ends of a hockey player's career curve. While Beauchemin is just hitting his prime as a developing top-four defenseman, Marchant has seen his role reduced to that of an above-average fourth-line center capable of filling in any temporary holes in the lineup. Although every team can use such a utility player, the Ducks actually have a younger forward who also fits the bill waiting in the wings (duck puns only partially intended). Ryan Carter has shown he is ready for prime time, and while he might not bring the leadership and experience that Todd does, he certainly comes at a much cheaper price for a team that features plenty of veterans, anyway.
After reviewing the facts, Mathieu Schneider is indeed the best candidate to be moved in order to free up cap space. However, while many fans have suggested trading Schneids, it is clear that Marchant must also be added to the cap casualty list after the name of the dearly-departed Andy McDonald. This would leave the Ducks payroll at approximately $51.8 million, but we're forgetting one last important detail - Selanne still needs to be signed. Assuming the Finnish Flash continues to be the team player he has been throughout his career and signs an incentive-laden contract with a base of around $2 million, our final figure is $53.8 million. Ironically enough, the $3.8 million excess is approximately the same as Kunitz's cap hit, but as I established earlier, his value to the team right now is worth more than staying under a self-imposed cap. Then again, I'm not the one writing the paychecks.
Sorry Duck fans, but with a long-time friend that I haven't seen in more than half a year in town for the week, I didn't get a chance to do a "Joining the Flock" this time around. This actually works out, however, as there is still over a month until the first regular season game and only so many significant signings to cover.
Anyway, you all know the drill - unless any major news breaks between now and next Sunday, I'll see you at the same Duck time, same Duck blog.
Keep on quacking!
(Please make comments in the forum thread!)
Ryan might be moved due to the fact that he hasn't met his potential. He is definately taking too long to become his anticipated greatness....He still hasn't proved himself....I know for a fact the Ducks are getting impatient!!!
Great blog man. Schneids definately has to go, and a package of Scheids and Marchant to a team under the cap would be good for some picks and a prospects.. which the ducks could really use going forward.
Nice blog! I totally agree with you final analysis. However, if the NHPLA doesn't agree to extend the new contract, Teemu will not be a Duck next year. (Nor will Shanahan be a Ranger) I still think Marchant, as great as he is in the room, will have to go also. The Ducks would like some wiggle room for the trading deadline. One thing that MIGHT bail them out is if Brendan Morrison is unable to start the season due to his healing knee. I don't think he counts against the cap if he can't play due to injury. But I don't know for sure and I'm sure someone will correct me.
Schnieder is the obvious piece to be moved... the question is can Burke unload salary with him. I'm just wondering if the injury to Whitney changes the market or if Marchant can be packaged with someone in a pure salary dump move.My personal shocker (and longshot move) would have Burke moving Pronger and Marchant for a forward and some picks... Pronger has two years on his contract and that's a ton of value at his salary figure. Not sure why you have O'Donnell as unmovable, Anaheim's blue line is second only to Detroit's in depth and in a pinch I'm sure they could bring back fan favorite Keith Carney.Kingslove, Ryan isn't going anywhere. He's been a point a game player for the Pirates since for the last season and a half... putting him on the same development path as guys like Getzlaf and Perry. He's fine and will likely play the entire season with the senior squad. That said, I can't really argue w/ a Kings fan about patience (40 years).
You might want to move the (Please make comments in the forum thread!) a little higher up at the bottom.... Kinda easy to miss it.
Kinglove - you can't really say whether Ryan has met his potential or not because he hasn't even played a full season of hockey, and his stint last year didn't give him regular top six minutes. He's also supposed to be more of a power forward, a role that usually takes more time to develop than others.Duxcup - from what I've read, it seems very likely that the current guidelines regarding bonuses for players 35 and older will be extended. As far as Morrison, all indications are that he'll be ready for training camp. You're right about him not counting against the cap if he was given a long-term injury exemption, though.Zther, I included O'D as one of the unmovables (though really only the big three are truly untouchable right now) because, as I said, he has proven chemistry with Pronger and any savings from replacing him with a cheaper defensive D-man wouldn't be significant (he only makes $1.25M).Itlan, haha, I noticed that, too. I'll try to make it more visible in the future.
Kinglove1 Ryan only competed in 23 games and he had 10 pts while playing less than 6 minutes per game, so I wouldn't be talking if I were you. And I'd be more concerned with Jack Johnson who is the most overrated player in the league right now. So, why don't you focus more on your pathetic Kings team instead of trolling here.
Ducks4 past cups...You could never talk for me...better yet you could never stand in my shoes...you know nothing about me so....I own tickets for both the Kings and the Ducks....Check out the draft in which Ryan was taken...what are the other players taken within that draft doing....just a simple comparison. The Ducks Management is getting Impatient with Ryan....That is a given/verbal fact....by the Ducks. Ryan is taking too long to progress. He will get his shot this year. The Ducks are expecting at least 20-30 goals from Ryan. Any less than that is a letdown. That has been verbally spoken by Ducks Management! P.S. D4pastcups....Free site I'll troll and piss you off anywhere I want! HaHa...The fact is....you take this way too serious....that makes you a punk looser!