Peter and I talked on the latest RMNB podcast about the fact that the TJ Oshie signing leaves the Caps with limited cap space to fill out a roster that has some obvious weaknesses. Given this, the Caps are going to have to squeeze every last dollar of cap space, getting creative where they can to save money.
Here’s a look at three different things the Caps can do to try to find the cap space needed to address the holes on the roster.
Trade Philipp Grubauer
The Caps were spoiled last season with Grubauer as the full time backup for Braden Holtby. Fans could rest easy when Holtby was given the night off, knowing Grubauer was more than capable of providing above average NHL goaltending. The Caps can’t allow themselves to be so spoiled this season.
Grubauer is estimated to make $2.15 million next season. This is far too much for a cash-strapped team to pay a backup goalie. The Caps would be much better served to deal Grubauer away and re-sign someone like Pheonix Copley, who is projected to earn about $831,000 next season, resulting in a projected cap savings of $1.31 million. Many people have been clamoring to deal Grubauer for valuable assets, and this may still happen. But given that so few teams will be in the market for a goalie, the most valuable asset the Caps may get for Grubauer is cap space.
Send Brooks Orpik to the minors
This really isn’t a viable option given the little amount of cap space this would save combined with the Caps lack of depth on the blue line. But, if the Caps really got in a crunch, they could do it.
This wouldn’t take Orpik’s entire $5.5 million cap hit off the books. When a player on a one-way contract is sent to the minors, the team receives cap relief of the minimum NHL salary plus $375,000. Next season, that will total $1.025 million.
But it’s not as simple as the Caps simply gaining $1.025 million in cap space by burying Orpik’s contract. The Caps would then have to replace Orpik on the roster. For example, a player like Christian Djoos could grab that roster spot. Djoos’ salary next season is $650,000, so the Caps would save $375,00 by having Djoos on the roster and Orpik in the AHL next season.
Again, I think there’s almost no chance this happens, but it’s an option.
Use the cheaper options available for the extra players
Last season we saw Zach Sanford grab the last roster spot out of camp because he earned it. The Caps can’t afford to give out the last roster spots (13th and 14th forward (if they carry 2 extra), 7th D) to anyone but the cheapest options available this season. If someone like Taylor Chorney is penciled in as the 7th D once the dust settles on this offseason, but a player like Tyler Lewington could fill in the role just as well, the Caps should take advantage of the $135,000 in cap savings this could generate.
At forward, perhaps this means a guy like Riley Barber and his $692,000 cap hit earns a roster spot over a guy like Travis Boyd, who will be getting a raise this summer from his $705,000 cap hit last season.
The Caps need to get creative to fill in some of the holes on their roster. Most importantly, they need to find a way to address their second defensive pairing. Filling out the roster can be made a little easier with every dollar of cap space the team is able to generate.
Headline image: Amanda Bowen
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