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01-18-2012, 01:43 PM
  #17
SERE 24
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I think you're probably over-pricing guys when you think things are going to get too tight to keep most everyone together. Del Zotto will be due for a pretty nice raise this summer, perhaps, but he's an RFA and Sather likes to play hardball/always gets his RFAs to sign good contracts. Del Zotto's cap hit is currently 1.087. If he gets more than 3M as an RFA, I'll be surprised. Prust will not get more than 1.5M (only 700k more than his current cap hit) and I don't see Stralman or Mitchell as must re-signs, but even if they are re-upped, it won't be for much of a raise, if any. Keep in mind, when you're talking about the money coming off the books to re-sign players, you don't only take off the expiring contracts that won't be brought back; you have to take off their previous contracts of the players you're re-signing as well.

Say we re-sign MDZ at 3M, Prust at 1.5M, Bickel at 1M, Stralman at 1.25M and Mitchell at 1M. That's only 3M in total more than they're currently making. Yes, I understand MDZ is a young puck mover who is putting up impressive numbers, but look at the first RFA deal Dubinsky got or the deal AA got. Sather is going to play hardball and get him to sign a reasonable deal for his first RFA contract. He is going to get 2-3 years to prove he will perform this way consistently before cashing in.

So after giving out between 3-4M in total raises this off-season, assuming we bring back all of the mentioned players. We should still be looking at ~6-7Mish cap space the following off-season, assuming things don't change with a new CBA (which is, perhaps, a stupid assumption and this whole conversation could be rendered moot depending on what happens). McDonagh and Stepan will be must re-signs. If AA hasn't been moved, he should be considered a must as well. Hagelin isn't going to be such an important piece that he MUST be re-signed, but he's also never going to be the kind of player that demands a huge salary.

McD is already making 1.3M. He could get a pretty big raise, but as an RFA, I doubt he gets more than Girardi or Staal, which means he gets a 2.5M raise, maximum, and I have a hard time seeing him getting 3.8M just yet as he and Stepan are bound to get the screws put to them like all of our other RFAs. Even so, say Stepan gets 2 years at 3.8 and so does McD. It's 5.4M in total raises. Hagelin makes 875k right now and I doubt he'll be making more than 1.5M on his next contract, as an RFA and AA will likely not get more than 2.5M on his next deal unless he breaks out a big season next year. That's an additional 1.5M in raises.

It would be tight and it could turn out that not everyone can be accommodated, but even with generous numbers for Stepan and McD, it's doable. Sauer is unlikely to get a big raise, but he is the likely odd-man out if someone has to be moved or overlooked. It's highly unlikely, but there is the minute possibility of the cap going up and even though that's probably not going to be the case, the next CBA will almost certainly be forced to restructure things to accommodate the numerous large, guaranteed contracts that already are in place throughout the league. Whether that means allowing teams to protect one or two players who don't count against the cap or having a "cap discount" for homegrown players (players you drafted and developed only count for 75% of their cap hit, etc.) there will likely be some kind of relief mechanism in place in the new CBA.

Either way, I don't think it will be as difficult to keep this core together as you seem to. Sather does excellent with his RFA re-signings and we have a lot of leverage with some of these young players reaching their first ever RFA summer. Additionally, this is a team that is going to be a legit contender and I can see homegrown guys taking discounts, albeit marginal ones, to keep the squad together and chase a cup. I'm not talking about any kind of crazy loyalty discount, but I can see guys sacrificing some change here and there to keep the pieces in place. In the worst case scenario, the new CBA would at least offer amnesty buyouts, in which case, funny as it sounds, I would probably just part ways with Richards' large contract (as he'll only be older by that point) and keep everything else intact.

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