With NHL Training Camp in full swing, and the Washington Capitals having played through half of their preseason games to this point, there still is a looming question that the Capitals will need to answer and that involves the $1.3 million in salary they need to shed to get under the Salary Cap. So how should the Capitals go about doing this, and what are some trends we are seeing currently around the NHL that could give the Capitals the ability make such moves without having to do a trade or two to make it happen?
So to recap real quick, through arbitration defenseman Christian Djoos was awarded a one year $1.25mil contract, and forward Chandler Stephenson was awarded a one year $1.05mil contract. The two contracts combined put the Capitals $1.3mil over the salary cap going into training camp. However, the Capitals will get minor relief for the first three games of the regular season as suspended forward Evgeny Kuznetsov’s cap hit will come off the books for the duration of his three game suspension. However, that will not help the Capitals in the long term, but a recent trend we have seen these last few days may help give the Capitals that long term solution. Waivers.
In the last few days goalies Louis Domingue (TB), Mike Condon (TB), Garret Sparks (VGK), Oscar Dansk (VGK), Alex Lyon (PHI), and a few other NHL back up caliber goaltenders have been placed on waivers with the purpose of assignment. Some because teams are already in good shape with their goaltending, while others like Tampa Bay are doing it to help with the salary cap.
Domingue is a cap hit of $1.15mil this season and Tampa Bay is still looking to re-sign restricted free agent forward Brayden Point, so the cap pressure is there for them. Sending Domingue down to the minors provides some of that relief.
So what does this mean for the Capitals you are asking. Simple. The Capitals send Pheonix Copley down to Hershey. Now while Copley will need to go through waivers to be sent down to Hershey, and that leads the risk of someone claiming him, but that is not a bad thing because let’s say Copley does clear, and based off of what we have seen thus far all players are clearing at this time, then that means we can have Vitek Vanecek as Braden Holtby’s backup. Plus Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are both waiver exempt this season so if the Capitals chose to they can have them rotate throughout the season so they both would be guaranteed playing time. Also with moving Copley that would free up $1.1mil in cap space for the Capitals.
However that only gives the Capitals a little bit of relief as I would predict at least two more moves will need to be made, and they should come in the form of Chandler Stephenson being placed on waivers and keeping Shane Gersich, who is waiver exempt this season, and also Christian Djoos being placed on waivers and keeping either Tyler Lewington, who is not waiver exempt, or Colby Williams, who is waiver exempt.
So here is a breakdown for those keeping track of the moves we would make.
Placed on Waivers for Assignment:
G – Pheonix Copley — $1.1mil
F – Chandler Stephenson — $1.05mil
D – Christian Djoos — $1.25mil
Total Cap Space Cleared — $3.4mil
Actual Cap Space Available — $2.1mil
Players to Keep on Roster:
G – Vitek Vanecek — $716,667
F – Shane Gersich — $700k
D – Tyler Lewington — $675k
Cap Space Used — $2,091,667
Cap Space Available — $8,333
With this breakdown you can see that it’ll get the Capitals under the cap, but may still need to make another pair of moves to make themselves comfortable under the salary cap. The clock is ticking and only time will tell as to what the Capitals will do.