Projected NHL Cap Space and Possible Trade Deadline Buyers

by | Jan 15, 2017 | Soapbox

Some playoff contenders, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, could have more salary-cap room to work with near the March 1 trade deadline.

The Athletic’s Scott Powers reported last week that salary-cap space shouldn’t be an issue for the Chicago Blackhawks if they wish to make a significant move by the NHL’s March 1 trade deadline.

Citing, Powers observed that (as of Jan. 11) the Blackhawks had over $1.184 million in actual cap space. Noting that cap space is prorated over the course of a season, he said that would allow them to take on a player carrying a cap hit of $2.394 million.

Powers also pointed out that projects the Blackhawks would have just over $5.3 million in cap room by the March 1 trade deadline. “If they wanted to trade for someone with a $5.3 million cap hit,” writes Powers, “they could fit that player under the cap without having to make any other roster moves.

Over a week ago, there was some speculation the Blackhawks could be interested in adding Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla as a depth forward. Iginla’s $5.33 million cap hit remains a tight fit, but if the Avs pick up part of it, the Blackhawks could squeeze him in at the deadline.

The Blackhawks aren’t the only playoff contender in this position. The Minnesota Wild, as of Jan. 14, had over $913K in projected cap space. Their actual cap space, however, was just over $1.9 million and their prorated deadline-day cap space was over $4.11 million.

Recent trade speculation claims the Wild could consider adding a center before the deadline. That prorated cap space gives them more wiggle room to bring in a checking line centerman.

Some pundits suggest the St. Louis Blues could be in the market for a goaltender if current starter Jake Allen doesn’t snap out of his current funk. Their current projected cap space was over $1.3 million, but their current cap space was listed at over $2.7 million. With a prorated deadline cap space of over $5.8 million, the Blues could have sufficient room to bring in another goalie.

The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly in the market for a scorer. Their projected cap space was $1.53 million, while their current cap space was over $3.2 million. With goaltender Jonathan Quick on long-term injured reserve, that cap space jumps to over $8.9 million. By the deadline, if Quick is no longer on LTIR, they could have over $6.8 million in prorated space and over $12.5 million if he’s still sidelined.

It’s believed the New York Rangers are in the market for a top-four defenseman. Their projected cap space was just over $2 million, while their current cap space was over $4.1 million. By the deadline, that jumps to over $9 million.

Powers observed there’s no certainty the Blackhawks will available themselves of that prorated cap room at the trade deadline. The same can be said for the clubs on this list.

Factors such as a player’s contract, availability of talent in this year’s trade market and the ability to protect an acquired player from the expansion draft must be taken into consideration. Those prorated numbers could also change because of other possible roster moves leading up to deadline day. 

Still, it’s worth noting that some apparently cap-strapped playoff contenders will have a little more room to maneuver than originally believed.