The Colorado Avalanche is in a very nice financial situation, I’m not sure there is anyone who would or could refute that claim even if they wanted to. If the Avs were a cartoon character they would be Scrooge McDuck just swimming around in piles of cash. If this were a retirement portfolio they would be in a great spot. At some point in time though, they will have to spend at least some of their embarrassment of riches. This team as constructed now will be below the cap floor when the league’s financial season begins for next year. Today I want to take some time to analyze in depth the Colorado Avalanche Cap “Problem”. I don’t really want to make any suggestions on what the Avalanche SHOULD do, but rather present what they COULD do.
A few years ago I thought about the concept of a Balanced Cap Roster. I recognize that it is not some amazing concept that I came up with out of thin air, and I’m sure that teams use some variation of this when mapping out the financial side of their organizational game plan. But I do think that this is a nice fan tool that we can use as a baseline for our favorite teams as we Armchair GM them to the Stanley Cup over the next few years. The concept of a Balanced Cap Roster attempts to evenly weight how much money should be allocated to your 23 man roster based on positions and number of players at each position. For the purpose of certainty I am making the assumption that the salary cap will remain at its current level for the entirety of this exercise. The salary cap is currently set at $75 million.
BALANCED CAP ROSTER
Twelve forwards receive 57% of the cap for 52% of the roster = $42,750,000
Six defensemen receive 29% of the cap for 26% of the roster = $21, 750,000
Goalies receive 10% of the cap for 9% of the roster = $7,500,000
Scratches receive 4% of the cap for 13% of the roster = $3,000,000
**all numbers below are to be read as million**
F = 3,562,000 per player
6+6+6 = 18
4.75+4.75+4.75 = 14.25
2.25 + 2.25 + 2.25 = 6.75
1.25 + 1.25 + 1.25 = 3.75
D = 3,625,000 per player
6 + 5.50 = 11.50
4+3.50 = 7.50
1.50 + 1.25 = 2.75
G = 3,750,000 per player
S = 1,000,000 per player
WHERE ARE THE AVS NOW?
Landy (5.57) – MacK (6.30) – Rantanen (0.89) = 12.76
Nieto (1.00) – Soderberg (4.75) – Comeau (2.4) = 8.15
Andrighetto (1.40) – Jost (0.89) – Wilson (3.9) = 6.19
Kerfoot (.925) – Toninato (.925) – Compher (.925) = 2.78
F = 29.88 (12.87 left over)
EJ (6.00) – Barrie (5.50) = 11.50
Zadorov (2.15) – Nemeth (.95) = 3.10
Barberio (.75) – Girard (.73) = 1.48
D = 16.08 (5.67 left over)
Varly = 5.90
Bernier = 2.75
G = 8.65 (1.15 over balance)
Yakupov = 0.88
Bourque = 0.75
Lindholm = 0.72
S = 2.35 (0.65 left over)
NEXT SEASONS OUTLOOK?
UFA’s: Comeau, Bourque, Barberio, & Bernier = 6.65
RFA’s: Nieto, Yakupov, & Nemeth = 2.83
Cap Committed: 47.48
Cap Space: 27.52
Projected Cap Floor: 55.40
Money that must be spent: Roughly 7.92 million
23 Man Roster Spots to potentially fill: 7
Internal Replacement options: Kamenev, Greer, Bigras, New ELC’s
NEXT YEARS ROSTER LAYOUT PRE OFFSEASON MOVES
Landy – MacK – Rantanen
4.75 – Soderberg – 4.75
Andrighetto – Jost – Wilson
Kerfoot – Toninato – Compher
EJ – Barrie
Zadorov – 3.50
1.50 – Girard
NOW LET’S ADD REPLACEMENT OPTIONS INTERNALLY
Landy-MacK-Rantanen = 12.76
4.75 – Soderberg – 4.75 = 14.25
Andrighetto – Jost – Wilson = 6.19
Kerfoot – Toninato – Compher = 2.78
Known Forward Cap: 26.48
Balanced Cap Room for remaining forwards: 16.27
EJ – Barrie = 11.50
Zadorov – 3.50 = 5.65
Lindholm – Girard = 1.45
Known Defense Cap: 15.10
Balanced Cap Room for remaining D-men: 6.65
Varly = 5.90
Known Goalie Cap: 5.90
Balanced Cap Room for Backup G: 1.60
Greer = 0.74
Kamenev = .83
Bigras/ELC = .84
Balanced Cap Room for Scratches: 0.59
Cap Committed = 49.89
Cap Space: 25.11
Projected Cap Floor: 55.40
Money That Must Be Spent: 5.51
23 Man Roster Spots available: 4 (1G, 2 F, & 1D)
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
This is where things get tricky and the debate really starts. Twenty five millions seems like a heck of a lot of cap space, and it is, but the goal of any organization should be long term stability of the franchise. That cap space leaves plenty of room to invest financially in your team if you find the correct pieces that you need to build a Championship caliber squad. And if you just sign 4 more guys then you won’t have any issues reaching the cap floor either. What muddies the waters here is three fold: The looming expansion draft, the lack of UFA’s in the next two years, and the dearth of RFA contracts the Avs will need to navigate after next season.
This is a true wild card in the cap game, it won’t make or break anyone’s long term plans, but it is something that the Avs need to have on their radar. The rules are yet to be announced, but let’s assume they are the same as last draft. We need to make sure that we have enough players under contracts to expose in the draft while not losing an integral part of our team and we need to consider our options for who we would be able to protect assuming that careers paths go according to plan. Biggest Impact Expansion could have? Maybe this is the impetus the Avs need to pursue trading a player like Tyson Barrie. That would be a move that will obviously help their cap situation outlook for the future, but they can also afford to hold on to him if they want.
AVS HEADED TO UFA
After the 2018-2019 season the Avs will only be losing two impact players from their roster (Colin Wilson and Semyon Varlamov) which means that any moves they make in the near future need to account for the fact that their roster is going to look pretty similar for the foreseeable future. You’ll have to replace Varly with a similarly valued player so the cap space gained from his departure will be negated by the expected replacement cost for the player. Colin Wilson is a replacement level player playing on an impact player salary, this has little to no effect short term, but I suspect that we gain from his departure from a cap perspective.
AVS WITH RFA RIGHTS
Nikita Zadorov, Mikko Rantanen, JT Compher, Alexander Kerfoot, Sven Andrighetto, Domonic Toninato, AJ Greer, Vladislav Kamenev, & Anton Lindholm are all players who are due for RFA negotiations in the summer of 2019. Tyson Jost and Sam Girard the season after that. Of that group only Nikita Zadorov and Sven Andrighetto earn over $1 million per season currently. That is 9 players who will have a tremendous impact on the 2018-2019 season who will all be due some form of a raise or qualifying offer next summer with the only potential exception being Anton Lindholm. I’ve never been good at predicting how much a player will earn on their next contract and will not try to do so here, but consider these raises to some very key members of your current team when deciding how to fill out the remaining 4 rosters spots you have available this season.
IF THEY SPEND BIG
If the Avalanche spend big I think the Avs need to spend big in two key areas: in goal and in the forward corps. The Avs have the makings of a very special blue line already and any investment made in that area needs to come in the way of a 7th defender who can push for 3rd line duties. The solution there is pretty easy for me, I’m offering Mark Barberio a 2 year deal at a lower AAV to stabilize the back end of the blue line rotation. In goal, Varly’s groin and salary being what they are necessitates that we invest heavily in a capable backup goalie who is capable of starting for long stretches. A perfect solution for me here comes via offering Jonathan Bernier a nominal raise on another 1 year contract. Up front, the Avalanche have a bevy of young talent who are pushing to take the next step forward, but we are in need of a player who can anchor a 2nd scoring line. While someone from our current team may be able to do it, there will be players available this offseason who we know CAN do it. We have the financial stability and positional availability to be attractive to another impact forward.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Do the Avs have to spend big to be a contender? Can the Avs, essentially as currently constructed, compete for a Championship based on individual growth? The cap floor or ceiling will not be an issue in this case, so it is an option to simply stay the course, make sure you can afford your RFA’s and continue to add around the margins. In other words can the Avs continue swimming McDuck style for a while longer?
How much will the cap rise over the next two years? Does that move the needle in either direction?
WHAT IS CLEAR TO ME?
- The Avalanche CAN afford to bring in an impact player, any impact player. Maybe two if they decide that trading Tyson Barrie will make them a better organization.
- The future is most certainly bright.
- I hope like heck that the Avs professional scouting staff is up to snuff to make the correct decisions on player additions and development over the next six months.