I thought it’d be ‘fun’ to look at what I’d do in Holland’s position in the next week. This is just pure fantasty booking and I don’t think it’ll happen but here is how I’d approach it. Feel free to mock me in the comments! Please note I’m trying to use actual moves that I think would be reasonable based on our awful history of losing trades and overpaying in free agency. This doesn’t end with Panarin on line 1 and Bobrovsky in net. My goal was to dump contracts, play young players, not to put us in more cap hell with poor UFA signings and put us in a stronger position for next April.
We got about 8 million to spend and need roughly 5 players. It’s not ideal. It might be one of the worst situations in the entire NHL when you consider we haven’t made the playoffs the last 2 seasons.
Those 3C’s I’d put against any team in the league! Everything else is bleak. I was disappointed to find out we still have Cave under contract for another year.
Our ‘position of strength’. I disagree with everyone on this. I feel we have a surplus of guys that could all be easily replaced by Kevin Gravel at 700K next season (note: I like Kevin Gravel). Also, guys like Bear and Jones start becoming waiver eligible after a year and we’re not sure what we have in them yet.
We only have one and he’s overpaid for too long. The good news is that he has a full season under his belt in North America. He does have an amazing pedigree and had some real good hot streaks last season. If he can up his consistency then maybe this signing turns out amazing?
What I would do (insert laughter):
We need to solve our goalie problem. A deal like Elliot for 2 million would’ve been great but it already happened. Mike Smith is old. Mrazek will be expensive (and if he’s smart, he doesn’t leave Carolina). Mcelhinney is awesome but also old.
The good news is that we do have an impressive pipeline of goalies coming up! In fact, we have so many that we might even have to let one go.
I would trade Manning (1.9 for 1 year) and Gagner (3.1 for 1 year) for Reimer (3.4 for 2 years). I’d ask Florida to retain 1 million in salary on Reimer. This equates to 5 million for 6.8 million over 2 years in Florida’s favour. This is why I’d want some salary retention.
Reimer is 31. He’s had 4 consecutive years above .913 on mostly non playoff teams. Last year, to me, was a blip. Much younger than McClenehny and Smith. Clears 2 bad contracts. I assume Florida would immediately buy out Manning. I think they could use Gagner and trade him at deadline.
This clears the way for Tyler Bensen or Kailer Yamamoto to make the club and our goalie situation is solved. Manning is gone.
Next, I would trade Benning (1.9 million) for Brown (2.1 million). This gives us a good bottom 6 forward who was under utilized on the much deeper TO team. Salary is almost a wash. This frees the road for Caleb Jones to permanently join the NHL. Caleb makes 720K at the NHL level. We’ve now improved our forward group and haven’t lost anything on our D group unless you feel Benning is considerably better than Jones on the 3rd pair.
Next I would trade Milan Lucic for Loui Eriksson. No sweetener. I’m not even sure if we win this trade as Lucic has many more useful years ahead of him as a bottom 6 dynamo who can hit and fight. Loui has fewers years left in him. However, it gets rid of the ugly Chia contract. Equal salary swap, one less year. In the grand scheme of things, we’re not better or worse. Just an ‘optics’ trade.
Last, I would give Connoly that 3 x 3.5 million contract. I’d sign Jaskin for 1 million. I’d bring in Haas as rumoured for 800K.
I’d let Jesse go to Europe. Zero cap hit. Let’s revisit this next April after the World Championships!
Cap Math (I’m positive I’ve made a mistake somewhere so feel free to correct):
+8.3 (starting cap space)
- 3.15 (Gagner)
- 2.25 (Manning)
+ 3.4 (Reimer)
- .5 (retained cap from Florida for Reimer)
+ .2 (difference in Brown and Benning)
+ 3.5 (Connoly)
+ 1.0 (Jaskin)
+ .8 (Haas)
This leaves us with 5.3 million in cap space to pursue others. I’ve cleared Gagner, Manning and Lucic. We do have Reimer and Erikson though. Where I think my cap mistake is that we still have to pay the replacements (Jones, Bensen etc.)
Our forward group going forward is McDavid, Drai, RNH, Eriksson, Kassian, Brodziak, Nygard, Cave and new additions Brown, Connoly, Bensen/Yamamoto (pick 1), Haas and Jaskin (14 guys). Top 6 in bold. Please feel free to interchange any of our 700 to 1 Mill players for the ones on this list - Malone, Marody, Russel etc.
Our D group is Sekera, Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse, Russel, Jones and 1 of Bear/Lagesson/Person/etc.
Our Goalies are Koskinen and Reimer.
Is it good enough to win the cup? No but if we sign Connoly and Mrazek we’re still not that much closer to winning a cup. Are we better? Yes I think so. Will it happen? Of course not!
The nice bonus is that Brodziak and Kassian will come off the books at the end of next season (and trade chips at deadline). With Manning/Benning gone it frees up opportunity for Bear/Lagesson/Persson to be the 7th D and inury/callups. Also frees up space in our very crowded and elite AHL D roster for Samorukov/Bouchard and whoever loses the ‘battle for 7th D’.
Gives Jesse a year to develop and show the league that Holland won’t make panic trades like Chia.
Here is my spreadsheet. I’m happy to fix any cap/math mistakes. Sometimes I rounded up, sometimes down. Let’s assume that 77 million cap hit is +/- 1 million.