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After a pair of days where new GM Marc Bergevin spent some serious money to shore up the Habs' depth and re-sign franchise goalie Carey Price, one question remains. Does Montreal have enough money to spend on a top six forward? Although right now the club is well under the cap, they may not have as much money left as you think.
As most of you know by now, the salary cap for 2012-13 is currently $70.2 million. Of course that's not a hard figure as the new CBA will dictate what the actual cap is before the puck drops. The common consensus is that it will wind up dropping; if the owners were content with the cap structure that presently exists, they would have exercised their option to extend the CBA. (This is why union leader Don Fehr keeps saying next year could start without a CBA, they know that it's not their end that is unhappy with where the cap and floor are, call it calculated early posturing.) So as much as a team can spend up to $70.2 million, they're going to want to leave themselves a bit of wiggle room for when it goes down and if there isn't a rollback like there was before.
As it stands, Montreal has just over $62.7 million in committed cap hit for the upcoming season. Here is a look at who is already signed (and yes, Gomez appears here as the buyout window has expired and we can't say definitively that his contract will be buried in the AHL).
Max Pacioretty ($1.625 M) -
David Desharnais ($0.85M) - Erik Cole ($4.5 M)
Total Forwards: $35.60 M (rounded)
Total Defencemen: $19.475 M
Carey Price ($6.5 M) - Peter Budaj ($1.15 M)
Total Goaltenders: $7.65 M
This gives the Habs a committed cap hit of roughly $62.75 million.
Restricted Free Agents
All but one surefire Hab has been re-signed. The lone remaining RFA is P.K. Subban, whose contract is somewhat challenging to predict as the amount of years will significantly affect the cap hit. I'm going to go with a bit of an in-between estimate for him and place him at $3.75 M which should put the Habs somewhere in the realm of a 3 year deal.
With Subban, the now 23-man roster sits at $66.5 million, just $3.7 million under the cap which most expect will go down in the new CBA.
As we know all too well from last year, injuries can and will strike. A wise team will leave some money aside to help combat the less significant injuries that wouldn't be eligible for LTIR (if that's still around in the new CBA). This is where the other remaining RFA, Blake Geoffrion also comes into play. There is also the potential for 3rd overall pick Alex Galchenyuk to make the team. Although he's unsigned, it's safe to predict his cap hit will be over $3 million including bonuses. (For comparison sake, the past three 3rd overall picks have had cap hits of $3.25 M, $3.2 M, and $3.2 M). As for those under contract, here are some of the players who may spend some time with Montreal.
|Nathan Beaulieu||$1.275 M|
|Louis Leblanc||$1.17 M|
|Jarred Tinordi||$1.083 M|
|Brendan Gallagher||$0.87 M|
|Michael Bournival||$0.87 M|
|Cedrick Desjardins||$0.6 M|
|Aaron Palushaj||$0.6 M|
Suffice it to say, a good chunk of the $3+ million left easily could be taken care of by callups. The present situation also suggests that Galchenyuk may be in tough to make the team as his cap hit alone (including bonuses) would take the team nearly right to the upper limit. So, is there enough space for another top-6 forward? As the situation stands now, I'd have to say there isn't. If the RFA's sign shorter term deals, there may be a bit of money freed up but barring a trade in the weeks ahead, this will probably be the majority of the roster heading into training camp in September...if there is one.