As promised earlier with people already gawking at trade rumors, here's a little napkin-sketch way to look at the commitments the Islanders have for 2011-12, plus the players who will either walk or need raises. Consider this a reference point as you channel the inner fantasy GM in your head. You can't really do this exercise without the invaluable CapGeek, so check there for further details on any individual contract (such as term, how much of the cap hit listed below is rookie bonuses, what these RFAs are making, etc.).
First, the basic starting point: The current roster guys (plus Bailey) you know are under the Islanders' control for next year, barring trade or (in RFAs' case) letting them walk by not offering a minimum raise:
|Matt Martin||John Tavares||Kyle Okposo||Mark Streit||Rick DiPietro|
|Blake Comeau||Frans Nielsen||Trent Hunter||Mark Eaton|
|Jesse Joensuu||Josh Bailey||Michael Grabner||Travis Hamonic|
|Rob Schremp||Mike Mottau|
Current forward commitment, outside of RFA raises: ~$7.128 million
Current defense commitment, outside of RFA raises: ~$8.825 million
Number of RFAs in need of raises if retained: Eight. (So figure at least $8-10 million there but likely more when you factor in guaranteed returnees Bailey and Okposo.) I'd bet only one or at most two of the forwards are allowed to walk outright, if at all. Can't say the same for the two defensemen at this point. (Again, it's early; things change.)
AHL/Junior Prospects (minus Bailey) with Best Shot at Promotion
I'm not counting on any of the following prospects definitely being here for the full 2011-12 season, but I wouldn't rule any one of them out. There are always surprises. So here are their cap hits, which are higher than salary thanks to entry-level contract (ELC) bonuses.
|Rhett Rakhshani||David Ullstrom||Nino Niederreiter||Calvin De Haan||Kevin Poulin|
We know few if any of those prospects will be on the NHL roster full-time next year, but collectively they total about $8.1 million in cap hit when on the NHL roster.
Free and Unrestricted
As importantly for this exercise, here are the guys from the current roster who are pending unrestricted free agents. These are the guys people will be speculating about trading as rentals as the New Year brings trade deadline fervor. They're also the guys who will need to either be re-signed, or else replaced either on the free agent market or by the prospects mentioned above.
|Matt Moulson||Zenon Konopka||P.A. Parenteau||James Wisniewski||Dwayne Roloson|
|Trevor Gillies||Doug Weight||Radek Martinek||Nathan Lawson|
|Jon Sim||Milan Jurcina|
Current cap hit of pending UFAs: Roughly $14.7 million. Obviously many will either be traded, retire (Roloson?) or allowed to walk. And most would like raises -- wouldn't we all? -- but I put pluses next to the ones who I believe will require at least modest raises if they are to be retained.
So there are a few guys who have near-zero trade value (Gillies, Sim, Jurcina, Lawson), a few who have decent trade value but might be part of the future (Moulson? PAP? Martinek and/or Wiz?), plus Roloson, who you have to imagine will be shopped [update: Well, maybe not if DP's on IR for a while] and also a candidate for retirement (as is Weight; thanks, TMC). Once again we're likely headed toward a trade deadline where simple time, space and hype will get people clamoring for 1st or 2nd-round picks that are almost certainly not going to be on the table. (Ottawa's playoff chances look dim this year, so we can't count on them to send us the annual extra pick.) But you never know -- amid those offerings there could be one.
Anyway, after the dealing is done -- remember, veteran free agents on one-year deals can start negotiating extensions on Jan. 1 -- there are plenty of spots to fill for next season. Some will come from the market -- here are the current UFAs for next summer (but expect several to be retained by their teams) -- one or two new Islanders might come from within, and if we're really lucky, the Isles might find a piece via trade if there is a contender or a cap-stretched team desperate enough to give the Isles an NHL player signed through next year.
- By CapGeek's chart, I count 48 NHL contracts for the Isles. The max is 50. Seems a lot of teams leave that wiggle room in case there is an unexpected addition, like Gillies last year.
- Buyouts: Alexei Yashin's buyout cap hit drops from $4,755,067 to $2,204,000 next year; Brendan Witt's drops from $1,333,333 to $833,333. That's a clearance of a little over $3 million.
This post is intended to just be a little resource -- I never am happy with how to jot the organization's depth chart down minus a dry erase board (and this even excludes most of the amateur prospects). But it's also another way to look at the roster and dream of what's needed, long-term.
So let your fantasies run wild, but remember ... it helps discussion if you ground them in a bit of reality. Remember that two years ago an aging Bill Guerin fetched a conditional pick that at best became a 3rd. And Chris Campoli plus advanced negotiating rights to a declining Mike Comrie fetched a late 1st (Ottawa's extra pick). And last year Andy Sutton fetched a late 2nd (also Ottawa's extra pick in that round).
Use this as you see fit. Quibble, sketch, dream -- and if any contract extensions are signed or trades made in the new year, we'll either update it or do a new post with the new figures.
P.S. As always, if you notice an error, let us know in comments ASAP.