This is an exercise I like to do as each season
goes down the tubes approaches the trade deadline. Lucky for me, this season we have two "trade deadlines," and with the passing of one this afternoon, it's time we look at the Islanders' current payroll for next year, minus current unrestricted free agents like Jon Sim and Andy Sutton, but inclusive of restricted free agents. The idea is to play GM and sketch how to fill the roster next year and meet the salary floor, which if the cap stays flat will be around $41 million.
A few caveats to get out of the way before looking at the depth chart below:
- These numbers aren't official; they're mostly from CapGeek, which is usually pretty reliable. Though the NHL wants us to play fantasy sports and fantasy GM and generally think about their product as much as possible, they're strangely never in a rush to let fans know what the real deal is with player contracts. "Fan friendly when it's convenient," is the apparent rule.
- Figures for guys like Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares include bonuses. All figures are cap hits, not salaries.
- Figures listed for RFAs like Bergenheim, Schremp, MacDonald and Moulson (denoted by asterisks) are their 2009-10 salaries. All of them, if retained, will receive minimum raises but quite possibly more than that.
- Tambellini and Kohn (and a few others) are on there because they're on the roster now, even if they're unlikely to be full-time Islanders next season. You can assume that if they're not re-signed or on the roster, their replacements will make at least that much.
- Brendan Witt's $3 million cap hit is not there because he's not on the NHL roster right now. Obviously if he made a Sim-like return, that changes things.
Done with caveats, follow after the jump for the totals, the roster holes, the fuming about Yashin, and the beginning of your wild free agent shopping:
|LEFT WING||CENTER||RIGHT WING|
|LW Total||$5,231,666||C Total||$9,745,067||RW Total||$4,321,666|
|D total||$8,199,166||G total||$7,000,000|
|* = RFA||Rough total||$34,500,000|
As always, if I missed someone or you find something wrong, point it out in comments. I rounded the "rough total" up to even because there is obviously a lot of uncertainty and unknown raises in the future.
Roster Questions and Unknowns
One immediate question I have is the center position. Josh Bailey's position next year really affects things. Move him back to center, and you have a jam at center, with no obvious fourth-line guy (Frans Nielsen as dedicated checker? That requires responsible wingers.) -- plus a new hole at wing.
Another big question is the blueline if Andy Sutton departs. The Islanders under Garth Snow have gone with blueline bargains plus a few bigger-salary veterans. I
would assume, I would hope, that Snow would fill the void with another veteran. But you never know. He went into this season publicly saying he was happy with the blueline, which was my biggest gripe since last May. It is premature to hope that any of the Islanders' touted blueline prospects will be ready next year.
Overall: At every position, there is a whole lot of what we have now: Youth that is waiting to develop or hit its prime. I would want Sean Bergenheim back as a reliable penalty killer and energy guy, but if he negotiated from the standpoint of a scorer who has, you know, not yet scored, then I would pursue alternatives.
Aside from free agent additions, the other big thing this table does not include but the way things are going -- it just might ought to: An entry-level contract for a first-round pick.
Your Turn to Shop
For those shopping at home, here's a list of pending unrestricted free agents. I don't see any realistic targets to salivate over, but I wouldn't mind serious runs at Anton Volchenkov (yes!), Alexander Frolov, or Pavel Kubina (nice, but not at $5 million). And of course this may all include re-signing Andy Sutton.
As we all know, somehow we've got to get up to $41 million or so. The challenge is getting there in a smart way.