Blair Betts and Correcting Myths (Updated)

In this morning's Chatham Daily News, Edmonton Sun writer Derek Van Diest explores the plight of Blair Betts, and makes this comment:

Having struggled to kill penalties and with no one outside of Shawn Horcoff able to win a draw last season, the six-foot-three, 210-pound Betts, would probably be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers.

However, with just over $1-million in salary cap space available, the Oilers would have to move a body in order to make room for Betts, who made $615,000 last season. It's never a good idea for teams to go into the season right up against the cap.

That sort of statement has been made by more than one journalist, but it's quite wrong.  Let me explain, using math.

According to CapGeek.com, which has taken over as the go-to resource for salary-cap information, the Oilers have just over 1MM in salary cap space with a 23-man roster.  Obviously, taking say 700K out of that 1MM would reduce it to a razor-thin margin.

But that's not what happens when a team signs a 700K player.  They add the 700K player to the roster and send out another forward because - and this is critcial - the team can only have 23 men on the roster at any one time.

So, in this case, let's say Betts signs for 700K.  To make room, the Oilers send Liam Reddox, their lowest paid forward (515K) to the minors.  Now, instead of having the 1,176,667 in cap space that they had before signing Betts, the Oilers have 991,667 - a 185K shift.

Betts isn't the first guy I'd be looking at on the UFA market, but let's be completely clear: adding Betts over a player like Reddox makes almost no difference salary cap-wise.  It just doesn't.

Update: Today the Carolina Hurricanes signed Stephane Yelle to a one-year, 550K contract.  The 6'2", 35-year old Yelle doesn't add a ton of physical presence but would only represent 35,000 more against the salary cap than Liam Reddox and he does two things well: kill penalties (avg. 2:09 TOI/game last year on the PK) and win faceoffs (52.0% last year).  Again, he wouldn't be my first choice, but there's no reason for the Oilers not to add a player from the Betts/Yelle tree.

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