When salary cap numbers for the 2022-23 NHL season were released last week, word came during a quiet moment for reporters in the Ball Arena press room the day after Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Denver.
There are quite contrasting numbers on Friday night as there won’t be much silence in the building as the Colorado Avalanche will be looking to win the cup for the first time since 2001. They could also end Tampa Bay Lightning’s search for a three-peat historic cap era with a victory in Game 5.
On May 31, Isaac Rosen signed a three-year junior contract with Cypress, who picked him in the first round, 14th overall, in the draft last July.
While the Avs and Bolts play, the rest of the NHL has turned its attention to next year. We’re only two weeks away from enlistment in Montreal, coaches are hired everywhere—with Boston and Florida oddly out of their minds—and cappologists put their hours of work arguing over numbers.
The Sabers fall into that latter group and got plenty of antennas to go up on June 11 when they secured a $4.9 million contract for retired Dallas goalkeeper Ben Bishop, which runs through next season. It should be noted that it was announced that the maximum salary would be increased to $82.5 million, while the role of the team is $61 million.
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The confusion over the bishop’s move was enormous. It pushed the Sabers total cap for next season to about $46.9 million, leaving the team about $14 million shy. There would be no problem getting there, no matter how panicky you see it on social media.
(Quick trivia time: You might remember that Bishop was a Tampa Bay goalkeeper and was the first player in the 2015 final against Chicago. But he was attacked early on in the series and an unknown kid had to give him a break and start the Hawks 2-1 victory in the 4 game that Things tied with two wins each.The 20-year-old’s name? Andrei Vasilevskiy.)
The Sabers still have to add to their defense and front group, including deciding what to do with Victor Olofsson. A restricted free agent suite could be looking at an arbitration award and/or a bridge deal that could bring it closer to $5 million a year. On a short-term basis with all this cover room there is no reason not to pay him at the moment and then see if you keep him or include him in any NHL level deals.
Sabers don’t spend on the big names in unrestricted free agency, so forget about the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang. You have to keep your eyes on goal and that also does not mean Marc-Andre Fleuri. Buffalo needs to bring in a famous veteran to play for Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen unless Craig Anderson is surprised and announces he wants to come back.
That view has always been in favor of making a move toward Dallas’s Braden Holtby and finding out how much magic he has left from his 2018 Cup career in Washington. He and Alex Toch can sympathize with that paddle saving so late in the second game of the final that allowed the Caps to escape with a split in Vegas and go on to four straight wins to claim their only trophy.
Holtby was on a one-year $2 million deal last year in Dallas and awarded the stars a 2.78 goal-for-average and 0.913 save percentage before being replaced by Jake Oettinger in the playoffs. You wonder if Cypress would go two years and $8 million if that would get him here. It would definitely help on the floor.
However, the most exciting conversation about the final was what Colorado will do in goal next season as Darcy Quimper is a UFA after making $4.5 million this season. There is no real sense that the Sabers have any interest in Kuemper but that is not the case when it comes to Jack Campbell from Toronto.
In the meantime, Kuemper may be a good fit in Toronto going forward if Campbell goes elsewhere. Campbell might want a 3-4 year deal, and the Sabers don’t care about that kind of jargon. Maybe they can get it with a bigger dollar supply, but they can’t leave themselves at risk either.
They say they don’t want to ban their young players and that’s fine. But they have no idea if Lukonen can stay healthy, let alone play an entire season in goal. They also don’t know for sure if potential players Eric Portillo or Devon Levy will eventually sign. The tea leaves say that levy is more likely in this area.
You cannot allow the building momentum of this rebuilding process to pass without a goalkeeper. And you have to start pushing to win while still paying key players on team friendly entry contracts or deals as you can see with Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin.
As for Campbell, you need to see the version he put out in the first half of the 2021-22 season and maybe you will. Health issues conspired against him in the second half and Campbell wasn’t good enough in the first round against Tampa Bay either (3.15/.897).
A note to everyone: Sword can’t worry about who’s good or not so good in the playoffs at this point. They have to get there first.
If Campbell can save enough to help them get in, that’s what you want. If you can weaken one of your top competitors and the team you’re after, that’s even better.
From this point of view, Holtby or Campbell are in goal. The city of St. Louis-Ville Hoso will want dollars and terms that Cypress won’t care about.
They will reach the ground. it’s no problem. Still the point is this: swordsmen used to spend all the money and they didn’t bring it anywhere. They’re not a cap team now and that’s fine. They need to spend the right money. And they have to do it in goal.