The Constraints of a $64.3 Million Salary Cap in 2013-14

Jeff Angus
August 13 2013 11:15AM

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The Canucks were one of the teams most affected by the reduced salary cap for this coming season (one of the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed back in January).

How has the salary cap affected Mike Gillis (and what he has been able to do) this summer? How will it affect some of the potential training camp battles which are looming? Let’s take a look.

The Offseason

This summer, Gillis was unable to keep a goaltending tandem set to make nearly $10 million together (although money wasn’t the primary reason that something had to be done in that department). He was also forced to stay out of the bidding for any of the top UFAs – something that may very likely turn out to be a blessing in disguise when teams around the league are saddled with ugly long term deals in a few years.

Gillis spent what few open cap dollars he had at his disposal on depth options with a bit of intrigue; Brad Richardson, who wanted more responsibility than the role he had on the Kings, and Yannick Weber, a talented offensive defenseman who had fallen out of favour in Montreal.

The team is/was pretty set on the back end, but they weren't able to bring in an elite third line center (Boyd Gordon, Matt Cullen) as they simply didn't have the available dollars to lure anyone to town. The Manny Malhotra injury continues to sting, no doubt.

I don’t put much/any stock in the latest comments from Chris Tanev’s agent – he’s trying to create some leverage in  a situation where he has very little of it. Can’t blame him for trying, though. Until NHL GMs prove to be more willing to use offer sheets as a tool to acquire young talent (and to hamper their rivals), top restricted free agents won’t have as much value as they potentially could.

I still think Vancouver brings in another forward/defenseman before training camp, but let’s work with what we know for now.

The Roster

There are 12 forwards under contract for $33,230,000. This includes Tom Sestito and Jordan Schroeder, and it doesn’t include Bo Horvat, Kellan Lain, or Brendan Gaunce.

There are six defensemen (not including Tanev) under contract for $19,949,444 million. Let’s assume that Tanev comes in around $2 million. That gives us seven defensemen at $21,949,444 million.

In goal, Eddie Lack and Roberto Luongo make a combined $6,083,333 million. Lack will have to win the backup job in camp, but he has a leg up on Joakim Ericsson for two reasons - his one-way contract, and the fact that his NHL salary of $750,000 is $175,000 less than Ericsson’s ($925,500).

So as it stands, the Canucks (with Tanev) come in at a combined $61,952,777 with a roster of:

L1: Sedin-Sedin-Kassian

L2: Burrows-Kesler-Higgins

L3: Booth-Schroeder-Hansen

L4: Sestito-Richardson-Weise

P1: Hamhuis-Bieksa

P2: Edler-Tanev

P3: Garrison-Corrado

(Weber.. which sure feels nice to write, even if it's as the 7th defenseman..).

G1: Luongo

G2: Lack

Options

There is some flexibility under the cap (just a shade over $2 million). The Canucks will need to carry a 13th forward, as Utica isn’t exactly a short drive away (hint, hint). This is where rookie contracts could work against some of the talented young players.

Bo Horvat’s entry-level contract pays him $1.775 million per season at the NHL level (edit: although $850,000 of that could potentially count against the 2014-15 cap as per the performance bonus cushion rule). Brendan Gaunce’s calls for $1.056 million per season (with a performance bonus of $162,500). Nicklas Jensen’s is $863,333 per season, while Kellan Lain is pulling in $600,000 per season. Unless Horvat has an incredible camp, the Canucks won’t be playing him in the NHL this season. Not only would it not make sense to rush a teenager into the league, but Horvat would be their highest paid bottom-six center (by far).

Gaunce has a slightly better chance as he is a bit more polished/developed in addition to making almost $800,000 less than Horvat. Jensen isn’t a center, but his cap-friendly contract should help his chances of earning a winger spot with the Canucks this season. Lain smartly agreed to a contract with a low NHL cap hit; it improves his chances of making the Canucks significantly. And unlike Gaunce and Horvat, he is already developed as a player, so the Canucks probably wouldn’t be adverse to using him in a depth/utility role with limited minutes and specific responsibilities.

Adding Lain to the above mix gives the Canucks a bit more balance up front:

L1: Sedin-Sedin-Kassian

L2: Burrows-Kesler-Higgins

L3: Booth-Schroeder-Hansen

L4: Richardson-Lain-Weise

(Sestito becomes an extra).

Of course, there are several important questions that need to be answered.

Is Kassian ready for more minutes? He's certainly putting the work in.

Can Corrado build off of his strong debut in 2013?

Can Kesler stay healthy?

Will Schroeder’s shoulder be healthy in time for camp? Can he play regular minutes for Tortorella?

The Canucks need a lot of things to go right for them to have success in 2013-14. But they have also set themselves up nicely from a long-term cap perspective. Assuming the salary cap starts to increase on an annual basis once again for the 2014-15 season, the team will be able to make some big moves next summer (in addition to re-signing their two most important players).

Thanks as always to CapGeek for all salary figures.

Give Jeff a follow on Twitter @AngusCertified or check out his blog AngusCertified.

F2cf6fd9972ec927b678af6dba1e37be
Jeff shares his Canuck-related thoughts with the Army a few times per week. His work can also be found over at DobberHockey.com, as well as his personal blog, AngusCertified.com. Give him a follow on Twitter @anguscertified.
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#1 Bold Move?
August 13 2013, 11:26AM
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Double shifting Schroeder!!!

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#2 Sean
August 13 2013, 11:27AM
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@Jeff Angus

Where did you get 2 million for Tanev? There's no way he comes in that high. Muzzin, his closest comparable, signed at 1.25 Million.

Also, Bo's cap hit might be 1.775 Million but 800,000$ of it is in the bonus cushion so only 995,000 of it counts against this year's cap. The same is true of the other rookie contracts. This article could have been better researched. Not that I disagree with your conclusions I just feel that you put August effort in on this one.

Don't mail in your next one!

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#4 NM00
August 13 2013, 12:27PM
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"The Canucks need a lot of things to go right for them to have success in 2013-14. But they have also set themselves up nicely from a long-term cap perspective. Assuming the salary cap starts to increase on an annual basis once again for the 2014-15 season, the team will be able to make some big moves next summer (in addition to re-signing their two most important players)."

Based on what exactly?

The Sedins, Hansen & Kassian could eat up the entire cap increase if they are all retained.

Schroeder, Weise & Lack (or their replacements) may very well also be more expensive.

And, you know, every other team in the NHL will also enjoy this cap increase.

Suggesting the Canucks will have more money to play with next offseason is as wishful as those who believed that Boyd Gordon or David Clarkson were realistic.

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#5 stonefiSh
August 13 2013, 01:37PM
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If Horvat is cut from the team only because of his contract then the Canucks are officially the worst run team in the league.

If he's got the stones play him. Only the best players out of camp should stick in the bottom 6. No exceptions.

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#6 Mantastic
August 13 2013, 01:56PM
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@stonefiSh

beating out the bottom 6 shouldn't be very hard...

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#7 Origamirock
August 13 2013, 02:19PM
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@NM00

> The Sedins, Hansen & Kassian could eat up the entire cap increase if they are all retained.

Why exactly is that? As you yourself point out almost constantly, the Sedins are getting older and are no longer in their primes. Why would they be getting raises at the age of 35? If anything their salary would drop, allowing Gillis more room. Sure if they really wanted to make $7 mill each, I'm sure somebody (e.g. Nonis or Holmgren) would be foolish enough to do it, but that doesn't mean Gillis is going to. I would also doubt that they themselves would ask for something ludicrous.

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#8 Mantastic
August 13 2013, 02:45PM
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@Origamirock

Alfie got a raise and he got older. Burrows got a raise after his last contract expired as did Luongo. Sedins will get a raise.

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#9 BrudnySeaby
August 13 2013, 03:25PM
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I agree with NM00. There is not that much more room next off season.

I don't think we have any way of knowing whether the Sedins will get a raise. But seeing as they are very humble human beings, want to win, have earned a lot of money over their careers already, and have given back to Vancouver before, they might just accept something similar to their current contract of slightly less (around 5.5 per). That would be a great deal!

Then the Canucks would still have to resign Kassian (bridge contract of 2 per?) and Hansen (@ 2.5?) which would bring them to the same amount of money (actually 1 million more) than they currently pay for the services of these 4 players.

So then there is not too much room to go crazy on the free market, especially if they want to resign Lack (and for arguments sake) Schroeder. Unless the cap goes up by 6 or more.

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#10 NM00
August 13 2013, 03:27PM
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@Origamirock

Since the Sedins signed 5 year extensions, they have each won Art Ross trophies and the cap has gone up significantly.

It's the same reason Datsyuk received a raise even though he is "getting older".

This isn't rocket science.

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#11 Origamirock
August 13 2013, 03:32PM
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@Mantastic

Context is important.

- Burrows was 32 and was making a scant $2 mill before his extension.

- Luongo was 31 (and goalies generally peak later than skaters.) Also, Luongo's cap hit went DOWN (from $6.75 mill to $5.33 mill) with his new contract.

- Alfredsson's cap hit stayed pretty much the same after he resigned with Ottawa in 2009. His salary in 2012-2013 was only $1 mill. His current contract with Detroit is for $3.5 mill with an additional $2 mill from performance bonuses.

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#12 NM00
August 13 2013, 03:39PM
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Origamirock wrote:

Context is important.

- Burrows was 32 and was making a scant $2 mill before his extension.

- Luongo was 31 (and goalies generally peak later than skaters.) Also, Luongo's cap hit went DOWN (from $6.75 mill to $5.33 mill) with his new contract.

- Alfredsson's cap hit stayed pretty much the same after he resigned with Ottawa in 2009. His salary in 2012-2013 was only $1 mill. His current contract with Detroit is for $3.5 mill with an additional $2 mill from performance bonuses.

Why are you talking about cap hits as though it is the currency in which players are paid?

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#13 Mantastic
August 13 2013, 03:57PM
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@Origamirock

Alfies 1m was the last year of his contract... known as "garbage" years of long term deals after roll back of contracts of the old CBA (pre-2004).

like NM00 said, they have won art ross throphies since signing their bargin contracts, i can't imagine they would sign for less. unless they signed for 8 year deal where the average cap hit goes down. also the bonuses of Alfies contract are easily reactable, all he needs to do is like play 10 games or something

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#14 EricCantona
August 13 2013, 04:34PM
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What about slotting Schroeder to RW? And adding Gaunce to 3LC?

L1: Sedin-Sedin-Kassian L2: Burrows-Kesler-Schroeder L3: Booth-Gaunce-Hansen L4: Richardson-Lain-Higgins

Your thoughts?

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#15 Origamirock
August 13 2013, 05:03PM
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@NM00

> Why are you talking about cap hits as though it is the currency in which players are paid?

Because that's the currency in which GM's build teams. The actual cash value the player wants is irrelevant to a team like Vancouver as long as his cap hit is low. If the Sedins want $9m for 2014-15, $6m for 2015-16 and $3m for 2016-17, all Gillis would care about is that they want $18m over 3 years.

RE: Art Ross Trophies, by that logic Jagr should be the highest paid player in the league since he has won the Art Ross 5 times. It will have been 4 and 3 years from the time the Sedins won their scoring titles when they are negotiating their next contract. You don't pay players for what they've done, you pay them for what they are GOING to do. Are the Sedins realistically going to be in Art Ross/Hart contention for the next 3-5 years? Probably not. If they win Art Ross/Hart trophies THIS year and show they are still in their prime, that would be a different story.

Also, I think the Sedins (as people) are being severely underestimated here. They signed for below market value when they were in their prime. They've stated multiple times that they want to stay in Vancouver. They have stated multiple times they don't want to move their families (going so far as to not play in Europe during the lockout.) Does anyone honestly think they'll chase the almighty dollar? This doesn't mean they'll agree to play for $2m/season but it does mean that they probably won't up and leave if they don't get $8m.

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#16 Origamirock
August 13 2013, 05:14PM
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Also, Martin St. Louis won the Art Ross this year (his cap hit/salary is $5.625m). Does anyone expect him to get a raise when his contract expires in 2015 (when he'll be 40)?

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#17 Mantastic
August 13 2013, 05:25PM
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@Origamirock

because the Sedins will be 40, right. the Sedins will be in their low to mid 30's for the next few years still much younger than Dats, Ray Whitney and Alfie whom both got raises in their 40s.

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#18 NM00
August 13 2013, 05:42PM
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@Origamirock

The salary cap was $56.8 million in 2009-2010 (the first season of the Sedin extensions).

Combined, the Sedins $12.2 million accounted for 21.5% of the $56.8 million cap.

Even if the Sedins take a cut down to 20% (which shouldn't be counted on), we're talking about a combined $13 - $14 million depending on where the cap ends up for 2014-2015.

Take a look at the Datsyuk extension, for example.

His extension kicks in during his age 36 season and he received a raise from $6.7 million AAV up to $7.5 million AAV.

And that is arguably a hometown "discount".

Look at the current NHL landscape and some of the contracts Mantastic mentioned.

It's not hard to figure out.

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#19 JFR
August 13 2013, 06:32PM
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Bottom line with this drop in salary cap cements Bettmans spot in the Hockey Hall of Shame. He has done everything in his power to knock "wealthy" teams... I.e, teams in which the fans care and show up, in favor of "low revenue" teams, I.e teams in the South in which no one plays hockey and could care less. This leveling of the playing field will result in an eventual Columbus vs Florida for the Stanley Cup one day, which will put the NHL into pro bowling and curling territory. Most leagues prop up their best franchises, Dallas, NY Giants, 49'ers Ect... Lakers, Celtics, but the NHL likes to hamper their better franchises by making them less competitive. Atlanta's move to Winnipeg has been a great success, but it will take an act of god for another franchise to move to a healthier area. Until then every time the CBA comes up for renewal, Canucks fans, Leaf fans, Hab fans Ranger fans better get ready to be chopped off at the knees, because isn't our fault in the end for actually showing up for games.

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#20 NM00
August 13 2013, 07:58PM
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@JFR

Bettman works for the owners.

Not delusional Canuck fans.

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#21 JCDavies
August 13 2013, 08:56PM
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The fact that the Sedins are a pair makes this situation unique IMO. I'm not sure there will be many teams that will be able (or willing) to commit 20% of their cap to two 33 year old forwards. I think the Sedins and their agent probably realize this too.

They will probably have some options (Rangers) if they choose to test the market but I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't come down to money in the end.

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#22 NM00
August 13 2013, 09:26PM
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@JCDavies

It is a unique scenario for sure.

But two 1st line forwards eating up 20% of the cap is not particularly unique.

Detroit is paying Datsuk $7.5 mil/yr starting with his age 36 season in 2014-2015.

They are also paying Zetterberg $7.5 million in 2014-2015 for his age 34 season.

Mind you, that contract was signed under the old CBA when the cap was only $56.8 million and is a classic cap cheater contract.

But $7.5 million is arguably below market value on Zetterberg.

Spending over 20% of the cap on a pair of 1st liners (even as they approach their mid-30s) is nothing out of the ordinary.

If Gillis extends the Sedins this summer, I suspsect we're looking at cap hits around $7 million each unless the term is crazy long.

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#23 JCDavies
August 13 2013, 10:19PM
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@NM00

I wouldn't be surprised if the Sedins signed for the numbers you're suggesting but I also wouldn't be surprised if they came back with a cap hit similar to what they've had.

I would guess that Datsyuk and Zetterberg would've had more options in the FA market than the Sedins would have - could affect price somewhat.

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#24 Lemming
August 13 2013, 10:50PM
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There's pretty much zero precedent for twins negotiating with the mindset of going to the same team. Elite or not, the Sedins are unique in that to land one, you'll likely need to land the other at the same time.

How much leverage that gives the Canucks, I don't really know.

I do remember when Burkie tried to hightail it to Sweden just as UFA began, only to have Gillis sign the Sedins. Can you imagine if they'd gone to Toronto?

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#25 NM00
August 13 2013, 11:26PM
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@JCDavies

But Datsyuk and Zetterberg also didn't reach the free agent market.

If they had, they likely would have received offers of more money.

And Zetterberg's contract was also signed 4 years ago when the cap was significantly lower.

Unless the term is longer than 3 years, don't count on a cap hit under $7 million if they're extended this summer.

Personally I don't see the rush.

The Canucks control the Sedins' rights for another year.

I'd rather they wait until next summer to determine if the right move for the organization is keeping the Sedins.

Though my opinion is clouded by the fact that I believe letting the Sedins walk, buying out Luongo and firing management may very well be the right move for the organization next offseason.

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#26 JFR
August 13 2013, 11:40PM
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NM00 wrote:

Bettman works for the owners.

Not delusional Canuck fans.

Sorry but quite a few of the owners that actually make money were very very upset at the lock out. From now on Fla Panthers fans should stick to the Miami Heat blogs.

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#27 JCDavies
August 14 2013, 03:15PM
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@NM00

"But Datsyuk and Zetterberg also didn't reach the free agent market."

Of course not, why would Ken Holland let that happen? The GM, the players and the agents could all see what the market would look like - Holland had extra incentive to get a deal completed early.

The main difference between the two situations is that if both Datsyuk and Zetterberg both hit the market in the same off-season, teams wouldn't be expected to sign both.

It would probably be difficult for most teams to find the $14+ million cap space required to get the Sedins out of Vancouver. Most likely, the Sedins would only have a couple options to choose from.

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#28 NM00
August 14 2013, 03:55PM
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@JCDavies

"It would probably be difficult for most teams to find the $14+ million cap space required to get the Sedins out of Vancouver. Most likely, the Sedins would only have a couple options to choose from."

How many teams were after Suter & Parise and were trying to move heaven and earth to acquire both?

The 2 for 1 factor is why I'd peg the Sedins around $7 million a piece on a "discounted" extension.

If they were seperate entities it would be more like $8 million.

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#29 JCDavies
August 14 2013, 04:34PM
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@NM00

An $8 million cap hit would have them as the 8th-highest cap hits in the NHL. A little high, I think.

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#30 NM00
August 14 2013, 05:58PM
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@JCDavies

But where would that rank in terms of actual salaries?

Players get paid in real dollars not cap hits.

Cap hits are going to be higher now that there are provisions in the new CBA to prevent cap circumventing contracts.

Take a look at the 3 biggest contracts handed out last summer with a $70 million cap:

Weber's contract is really for 10 years and $104 million through his age 36 season before the money tapers off.

Both Suter and Parises's contracts are really for 10 years and $94 million through his age 37 season before the money tapers off.

A lot of people are fixated on Malkin having a higher cap hit on his new contract than Crosby.

But in real dollars Crosby is making over $10 million/year during the big money years of the contract.

And that's what matters to players.

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#31 JCDavies
August 14 2013, 06:13PM
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@NM00

The cap hit is the number the league uses to determine cap compliance. To the players, the real salaries are what's important but to the league, it's the cap hit.

FWIW $8 million in actual salaries would put the Sedins 14th in the league. Still a little high IMO.

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#32 NM00
August 14 2013, 06:40PM
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JCDavies wrote:

The cap hit is the number the league uses to determine cap compliance. To the players, the real salaries are what's important but to the league, it's the cap hit.

FWIW $8 million in actual salaries would put the Sedins 14th in the league. Still a little high IMO.

That's my point. Cap hits are going to be higher now with the elimination of backdiving contracts.

As I said, $8 million is if they were separate entities.

$7 million minimum is what I expect the 2 for 1 discount to be.

And that includes a "hometown" discount.

That's not at all high if the cap goes up to $70 million.

And the 14th in the league stuff is misleading.

Many of the top 30-50 highest contracts, for example, were signed when the salary cap was lower.

And, without looking it up, some of the top 30-50 highest contracts include RFA years.

It's not an apples to apples comparison since we are talking about UFA years for the Sedins.

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