Gary Bettman has advised the teams that despite the CBA negotiations with the NHLPA they should proceed with "business as usual" heading into next season. Anticipated league revenue increases are expected to raise the salary cap to about $70.5 million and the salary floor to about $54.5 million. The Canes currently have 17 players under contract for $42.3 million. In this scenario JR must spend at least an additional $12.2 million to get to the floor and could spend as much as $28.2 million before hitting the ceiling. Let's assume Karmanos is tired of being the only NHL owner living in Detroit who does not consistently have a team in the playoffs. Further assume 1.) Compuserve had a good year and 2.) the new owners fully grasp the effect a couple rounds in the playoffs would have on their ROI. (Or, just assume PK is tired of being a loser.) The Canes must spend at least an additional $12.2 million to reach the salary floor or could spend as much as $28.2 million before hitting the cap. Splitting the difference would give JR an additional $20 million to spend on players for 2012-2013. Here's what he has on the books.
A. There are 12 forwards on contract including Welsh and Tlusty as RFAs. In Charlotte Boychuk, Dadonov, Bowman and Terry are also RFAs on 2 ways. Assume resigning both RFAs will cost $2 million. Total salary spend is now $44.3 million.
B. There are 5 dmen under contract including McBain as an RFA. Allen and Spacek are UFAs assumed gone. In Charlotte Sanguinetti is a RFA. Assuming McBain and Murphy are on the team costs about $2.3 million. Dumoulin starts in Charlotte. Total salary now is $44.6 million and $10 million under the salary floor.
C. In goal, Ward and Boucher are under contract. Peters is an UFA, Murphy is an RFA.
D. Skinner is an RFA in 2013-2014.
One thing is clear, starting next year with the team that played so well since January is not an option. With 12 forwards, 6 dmen and 2 goalies signed the payroll is still $10 million under the floor. Even resigning Allen at a raise to $3.5million won't nearly get us to the bottom. There will be other low budget teams that have to spend even more than the Canes to get the salary floor. High budget teams will also have new cap space to fill. Supply and demand curves predict that players who have contracts due this year will get a premium. Even so, JR has to spend a lot of money this summer. At least $10 million to the floor and maybe $16 million to the new budget. The coveted top line wing and shut down defender seem within reach. The ripple effects bolster each line and pairing below them. Dumoulin, prospects and #8 draft picks can mature in Charlotte ready to plug in as injuries occur. Hope springs eternal.