Just a brief look at the numbers will show that the Preds have around $4 million in cap space but that doesn’t really paint the whole picture. Things may look one way now, but after salaries change over next year and injuries end, we could be looking at a completely different cap situation
The first thing to look at is that in the 2018-2019 NHL Season the Preds lead the league in money given to forwards with $51 mill, or just over 64% of the cap. That number is mainly big due to the fact that in the past two seasons, we have seen big name players such as Forsberg, Arvidsson, and Johansen all given decent pay raises. After all, adding that along with mid-level contract players such as Turris, and Granlund and its easy to see why Nashville has invested so much into forwards. Next, the Preds rank in the late teens in the league on money given to defensemen. Granted, that does not factor in Ellis’ extension which will add $4 mill to his cap hit. Lastly the Preds pay roughly 10% of the cap to Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros for their services but there’s not much else to expand on
Now that the general overview is the Preds have ten expiring contacts this year. Four of them are non-roster players such as Di Giuseppe, Kirkland, Schneider and Gaudet. Of those four I would expect Di Giuseppe and Kirkland to be retained but if not both of them, then Kirkland for sure. For the six players who are on roster, you can expect Zac Rinaldo, Cody McLeod and Wayne Simmonds to not return as those players were acquired for a very specific purpose.
With the gained cap from letting those players walk, which isn’t much since Simmonds is the only one of those players who makes above $750,000, the Preds will have to give extensions to younger role players Colton Sissons and Rocco Grimaldi. While Grimaldi won’t receive a big raise or anything and will stay around his league minimum deal, I’d expect Sissons to look for a deal that’s similar to Calle Járnkrok, as he has performed in a role much like Járnkrok did before receiving his contract. I wouldn’t expect the term to be the same, but I could see the Preds offering Sissons a three-year deal worth $2-3 million. Things get a little hazy with Brian Boyle as it would not be surprising to either see him walk into free agency or be retained to lock down that forth line center. But that’s something to keep an eye on when it comes time for Nashville to actually lock up Sissons.
Now for the fun stuff, the changes that will happen next season. Starting off on a good note, the 2018-2019 season is the last season where Nashville will be paying Viktor Stalberg to not play for them. That alone will add one million dollars to the cap space. In addition to that, it will help offset the increase in Ellis’ cap hit. That cap hit by the way, jumps from the “very team friendly” price of $2.5 mil a year, to the “not as team friendly but still sort of team friendly” price of $6.25 mil a year. That may seem like a lot, but honestly, Ellis and his magnificent facial hair could’ve seen up to $8 mil a year on the open market, so it hurts, but at least it’s not, more right? Ellis’ cap hit is really the only one that goes up. He is actually only one of two players whose cap hit changes. The other one is Pekka Rinne who will go from a $7 mil a year down to a $5 mil a year player, which is by definition a steal. Regardless of how his…. slump is looking, can you find me a better option at that price, Because I’ll wait.
Overall, there is absolutely no reason to panic at the moment when talking about Nashville’s cap hit. So, we as fans can hold off on the panic button until next year when the Preds have to sign Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, Austin Watson, Rem Petlick, Frederick Gaudreau, Roman Josi, Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Yakov Trenin, and Alexandre Carrier. They will have to accomplish this with an estimated $23 mil in space, so keep that panic button close by.