Capped: Top-200 free agent salary projections
In Michael Clifford's Ramblings on Wednesday he started to cover some teams and their cap outlooks for the coming seasons. It's a good practice to get into for all cap league managers, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he digs up as that train of thought continues for the next few days. It can be especially useful for RFAs, as the teams with more cap space for their RFAs are less likely to pinch every penny and pull the average annual value (AAV) down. That means that with Sam Reinhart and Ryan Pulock both being projected for a $6.7 million AAV next year, odds are that Pulock's number will come in lower due to being pressured by the Islanders' cap situation.
Below we have Pulock, Reinhart, and 198 other free agents projected for their next salaries. After two iterations of the skater salary projections I have made all the updates necessary, fully reviewed all of the inputs, projections and formulas for the projection output, and now there is just the final list to publish. There have been a few signings thus far such as Jared McCann, Joel Edmundson, and Sean Walker that have been exceptionally close to my numbers. It's great to see, and hopefully the rest of the summer plays out that way as well. Unfortunately, that is never the case, but with every deviation from expected, we can learn from it and adapt for the future. That's my plan anyways.
My overall thoughts on the projections:
Most importantly, these projections aren't perfect – keep that in mind. These projections try to take all of the player biases out of the equation, and it's all based off of numbers. As a result, if you don't agree with something, then it could mean you have some existing biases that are showing through (or that there is something I haven't considered in my work – so please let me know). On the flip side, this also means that a lot of the NHL GM biases can't be taken into account, and what we end up with is partially a projection of a player's value instead of exactly what they will sign for. This means that it can be a useful tool to ballpark a player's value before they sign and to give an approximation on their potential cost. It can then also be used after a contract is signed to compare their value to the contract versus the expectation, easily signaling whether the initial reaction to the contract should be positive or negative.
The list that I put out in February had a few major bugs that were fixed for the July edition. Since then, there have been some further tweaks to accommodate for the flat cap numbers among other minor tweaks. I am very happy with the results now, but as a writer and publisher of numbers I love to hear criticism and comments as they point out the areas for improvement. You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean for any of these comments.
From CapFriendly, there are currently 203 slots open on NHL rosters for next year, with a total of $420 million in cap space. The total of the top 200 free agents I have projected is about $440 million – add in the goalies and it is $490 million for the top 220 free agents. Taking into account the cap space available around the league increasing due to some buyouts, retirements, players getting buried in the minors, and teams not running with the fully available 23 roster slots, and the cap numbers start to add up. The cap crunch for free agents is going to be noticeable on 50th to 25th percentile players (third liners and fourth/fifth defencemen), who might have gotten a salary of a couple million, but now will be forced to take half or even a third of that. That's where I expect my numbers to be off the most – and it will be directly correlated to how many teams don't spend to the salary cap next year.
Some quick hits regarding the list:
-The Islanders and Lightning are in real trouble with the projected cap hits of their key RFAs. Anthony Cirelli just keeps padding his wallet with clutch goals too.
–Max Domi deserves $6 million, but it doesn't sound as though he is going to get it in Montreal. After the Canadiens tried to sign away Sebastian Aho via an offersheet last year, does someone (Minnesota?) try to get Domi for a first and a third-round pick? Montreal may have to let him go for that.
-Andrew Mangiapane is going to be a bargain if he gets his projected $2.7 million.
–Josh Anderson's past few seasons have really killed his projected value. He may need a short-term deal for a season where he stays healthy before he can really cash in. He might be a good buy-low in bangers leagues.
-The minimum salary for next year as per the new CBA is $700,000, going up to $750,000 for the 2021-2022 season. Anyone not showing is also projected to earn the league minimum of $700,000, though most rookies will probably be closer to $900,000.
-If any players are bought out then I'll post their projected new salaries on Twitter. For example, if Kyle Turris gets bought out by the Predators, then his projected salary for next season would be $3.2 million.
|Rank||Name||Age||Pos||Projected Cap Hit|
|82||Michael Del Zotto||30||D||$1,950,060|
|118||Trevor van Riemsdyk||29||D||$1,279,879|
|187||Sebastian Aho (d)||24||F||$700,000|
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