Finally, Some Good News in Sens Land
It looks like we may soon have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and its players' association. I know, I know; labour negotiations, ugh. But this is great news. In fact, this new CBA is fantastic news for the Ottawa Senators on a couple of levels but on one point in particular. As reported by numerous insiders:
The NHL Salary Cap will remain at $81.5M until revenues reach $4.8B
I have no intention of rolling out a whole whack of fancy statistics, individual contract situations and team salary cap numbers and projections and, quite frankly, don't need to. Here, in simple terms is all you really need to know.
There are presently 17 teams with less than $1M in cap space with free agents still to sign.
There are presently 13 teams with payrolls over $81.5M with free agents still to sign.
Only New Jersey at almost $8.8M will finish this season with more cap space than the Senators' $7,180,631.
A lot of NHL teams will feel the cap crunch
This impacts the Senators in at least six rather readily apparent ways...
If the Senators have a lot of one commodity, it is inexpensive NHL-ready players who have been playing in Belleville and even in the bottom half of the lineup on the big club. Inexpensive, serviceable labour will be in big demand among many teams offering the opportunity to make old fashioned "hockey deals" of two or even three cheaper, less experienced players for a contributing veteran
Many teams will be looking to dump salary in the form of overpaid veteran players past their prime and/or no longer contributing at a satisfactory and financially justifiable level. The days of buyouts and hiding players in the minors are long gone but a team with cap space can easily take on one of these bad contracts and demand other players or draft picks in return just for providing assistance to those who need to lower payroll
Impact players will become available as well as a way for cap crunched teams to create the space necessary just to ice a full lineup. The opportunities to trade for a good player on a less desirable contract will be plentiful as cap dump trades become commonplace
Current and near-future high-end, talented RFA's (especially those on teams in cap jail) will no doubt price themselves out of the market and out of their current club's budget. Teams simply won't be able to offer a lucrative enough extension so plenty of good young talent coming off entry-level contracts will be available
UFA's will need to lower their contract demands and will be looking for shorter-term deals just to get them through the next few years when they can be free again and demand big money in 2024. If everyone can only offer pretty much the same money, other factors will weigh into a UFA's decision - the market a team plays in, the prospects for future success, available ice time, etc
Any number of teams will simply not be as good in the next two to three years as they are right now. If your competition drops in performance, you can't help but be better Add to that, you have been operating under a team budget and a fiscal system different than most anyone else so you don't need to cut to get to the cap. No, no, you have room to move up to the cap. Therefore, you are far better prepared to spend to that cap and, dare I say it, poised for a run of unparalleled success.
There is no need to do an extensive analysis of each individual club's current cap situation and speculate as to which players may become available in the near future. You can rest assured the Ottawa Senators are in a unique and enviable position. Trust me; more than a few quality players will be available at far below pre-COVID 19 values and the Senators have the incredible financial flexibility to weaponize their cap space and pounce.
That, my friends, is some much needed good news for a franchise that hasn't had a lot in the last few years. I, for one, am very much looking forward to it.