With capgeek gone (RIP Matt Wuest) we wanted to give a nice layout of the Pittsburgh Penguins salary cap situation going forward. NHLnumbers.com is about the best place now to find a lot of this information.
The Penguins have a lot of money tied to forwards for next season- with 8 NHL caliber players signed for next season for $39.3 million dollars. Luckily, at least, these 8 forwards all slot in to be "top 9" players for next season. The health status of Pascal Dupuis will linger, with the team hoping and expecting that he can continue his playing career after he stops taking blood thinner medication.
This will be another season of change for the Penguins, with 2 more veterans in Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff most likely both leaving the team via free agency.
Pittsburgh may elect to buyout Rob Scuderi here, which would leave 4 defensemen under contract, 2 of which ( Olli Maatta and Kris Letang ) have been injured. Ian Cole and Brian Dumoulin will both be back under team-friendly contracts, but if the Pens don't further dip into their prospect pool they might need to look for a free agent or trade to bring in a top-4 caliber defenseman who will provide some cover for the young players.
The Fleury extension looks pretty good now for the Pens, and Matt Murray has been the best goalie in the AHL. It will be interesting to see what the Pens do for their backup goalie spot next season. Will the 21 year old Murray be best served in the AHL where he can play more? Or will he make the jump to the NHL? Or shuttle back and forth? Personally, we'd like to see the last- let Murray get some games in Pittsburgh but then let him get some time in the AHL for those stretches where Fleury will play more.
Possibly the key to it all, as several young players on this list will be called on to fill out the NHL roster for next season.
The Penguins are in decent shape, salary cap wise. Build a very early roster framework of:
David Perron - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Beau Bennett
?????????? - Brandon Sutter - Kasperi Kapanen
Nick Spaling - Oskar Sundqvist - Scott Wilson
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Derrick Pouliot - Ian Cole
Brian Dumoulin - Ben Lovejoy
This lineup would result in a total cap hit of $63.9 million (This includes a $1.29 million cap hit penalty in 2015-16 for a Scuderi buyout). We assumed that Bennett would get a contract of $1.1 million, Cole $1.4 million, Dumoulin $775k and Chorney $650k. There is still one hole on the 3rd line left wing, which could be filled by someone like Blake Comeau , Daniel Winnik or another free agent. There's also the chance that Dupuis could fill this spot - we left him off the roster but included his salary, just because of lingering health concerns. So anything he brings will be a bonus, and the team could also look to LTIR him if his salary helps them exceed the cap.
Speaking of the cap, the most recent projection from Gary Bettman was $71.5 million which he talked about earlier this week.
If that holds, the Pens are looking at about $7.6 million in cap space - and that's even before a potential move of someone like Spaling that could clear up even more room, should the team elect to do so.
There probably will be a lot more external changes to the lineup then what you see above, but the Penguins have a pretty good framework setup, now it's just a matter of where they slot which pieces and if they can make any upgrades to bring in more skill or add a quality defenseman to help that unit's depth.