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A tip of the cap

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – The NHL’s biggest shopping day of the year is almost here, but who has the biggest purse flung over their shoulder pads?

While all teams would love to get in on the free agent action as of July 1 and attack the market like a kid in a candy store, the question becomes how much allowance do they have to play with? The days of unlimited spending in hockey are over. With the advent of the league’s salary cap, a line is drawn in the sand at this time of year separating teams with and without cap space.

Table updated 29th of June 2010
Teams Players signed Space left on cap (in M$) Teams Players signed Space left on cap (in M$)
14 29,8 18 22,0
   16 6,2 18  5,9
 14  15,6 13 6,0
   15  17,7  18  12,3
 20 13,3   15 31.0
16 8,2 16  17,7
   17 13,5 16 6,6
  14 31,3 14   17,7
14 14,0 16 17,5
   17  9,4 17 12,6
   16  12,5  16 22,2
  15 13,7 17 24,4
14 23,1 14 9,8
15 15,8 12  31,7
14 11,9 17 10,1

Among those with the fullest piggy banks are the New York Islanders. Thanks to their roster filled with affordable young talent, the Isles have over $31 million dollars to play with and 14 players under contract. Joining them as potential free agency fat cats are the Blues ($31 million) who have only 12 players under contract as well as the Thrashers and Avalanche who each have roughly $30 million dollars in chips to potentially play with as of Thursday.

At the other end of the spectrum are cash-strapped clubs like the Flames. Calgary has a paltry 5.9 million available, although they already have 18 players already under contract.

Also a little tight around the waist are the Canadiens, which is fully understandable given the way they attacked the UFA buffet table a year ago. Twelve months removed from having 27.5 million dollars to spend, the Habs have only 8.9 million this time around. While additional cap space is always welcome, the Canadiens can rest easily knowing that their big guns are all locked down with long-term deals from Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Michael Cammalleri to the newly-inked Tomas Plekanec.

Another club likely to stand pat this year is Detroit. With 16 players under contract for 2010-11 including recent signees Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom, the Red Wings have only 6.6 million left to round out the rest of their roster

A lack of cap space is one thing, having next to no wiggle room and only 13 players under contract is another. It may be tough to second-guess the wheelings and dealings of the newly-crowned Stanley Cup champs, but the Blackhawks are in salary cap purgatory these days. Having already dumped the salary of playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien, the ‘Hawks still only have a scant six million dollars of wiggle room. Hopefully the Stanley Cup won’t end up in a downtown Chicago pawn shop anytime soon.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for Translated by Manny Almela.

See also
En route to July 1st
One-year deal for Pouliot 
Habs lock up Tom Pyatt 
Habs ink Tomas Plekanec to a six-year deal 
Darche under contract for the 2010-11 season 

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