Rabid Habs

2015-16 Habs Roster: Looking Ahead

The value of hindsight is that it paints a clear picture, providing an understanding and rationale of an event or series of events. With respect to the moves General Manager Marc Bergevin made in jettisoning the legacy costs of Travis Moen and Rene Bourque, the value can’t be overstated. As the likelihood of significant salary cap expansion decreases, these moves might yet become key components in the assembly of the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens roster.

Looking ahead, it is very likely that quality players end up going to market, as their organization is unable to fit them into league’s salary cap. Therefore, as other organizations are forced to move these key pieces, Bergevin will have the ability to take on salary.

Before we proceed further, allow me to offer a disclaimer. I am not an economist. My understanding of Hockey Related Revenue and the correlation between the impact of a softening Canadian dollar and future salary cap is fleeting, at best. That said I feel that two major obstacles are working to impede the financial growth of the game.

Firstly, so much as it pains me to say this, there is simply no denying the revenue generated by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have become the modern day General Electric, an organization under Jack Welch that became a financial bellwether, continually beating analyst’s financial expectations. However, the Leafs on-ice struggles in conjunction with their off-ice issues, might temporarily deflate Mr. Bettman’s golden goose. The ACC has not consistently reached capacity, an unlikely but real scenario in the self-appointed center of hockey.

Secondly, the league drew revenue from two outdoor games this season, down from what seemed to be ten events last year. These factors, in conjunction with the Canadian dollar trading at .78 cents in relation to the American greenback place the league in the most unusual of situations as it relates to the salary cap – little to no growth. I am sure this is also a major factor in the push to advance expansion, as the league is desperate to introduce a new revenue source in the form of expansion fees.

Leaving this secondary issue aside, let’s take a deeper dive into the future and look at how the Montreal Canadiens might line up in 2015-2016; The Habs currently have 17 players under contract for next season. The lineup below is meant to illustrate the pending salary cap commitments (financial figures derived from multiple sources) and not on-ice chemistry:

Max Pacioretty ($4.5M) David Desharnais ($3.5M) Brendan Gallagher ($3.75M)
Alex Galchenyuk (RFA) Tomas Plekanec ($5M) PA Parenteau ($4M)
Christian Thomas (RFA) Lars Eller ($3.5M) Devante Smith-Pelly ($800K)
Brandon Prust ($2.5M) Jacob de la Rose ($925K) Dale Weise ($1.025M)

 

Andrei Markov ($5.75M) PK Subban ($9M)
Nathan Beaulieu (RFA) Tom Gilbert ($2.8M)
Alexei Emelin ($4.1M) Greg Pateryn ($562.5K)

 

Carey Price ($6.5M) Dustin Tokarski ($562.5K)

 
The cumulative salaries of the players listed above represent just under $59 million in salary cap commitments. In addition to the pay raises for pending restricted free agent’s Galchenyuk, Thomas and Beaulieu, the Canadiens will need to complete their 23 man roster with three additional players. As a result, once again assuming that the salary cap remains unchanged, the Habs will have approximately $10 million dollars with which to sign 6 players.

Diving deeper, it might not be a stretch to assume that Galchenyuk commands a salary north of $5 million annually. Beaulieu could be signed on a short term deal (not dissimilar to the one Tory Krug signed with Boston last year), while Thomas, Bournival and Tinordi are likely to be retained for less than $1 million each.

Looking closer at the existing lineup, but more specifically at the salary cap commitments, players such as Parenteau and Emelin become hinges with which the salary structure door opens and closes. If either, both or a combination of other players leave, it will open the door to further salary onboarding.

Additionally, the steady play of Greg Pateryn is an essential component in the effort to stabilize salary on defence. Montreal ices one of the most expensive defensive lineups in the NHL. Finding payroll balance on the blue line will help promote financial flexibility throughout the lineup.

All this is to say that the Montreal Canadiens are in excellent position to fit their existing personnel within the structure of the current salary cap. Any league wide salary cap movement will only further benefit the organization, allowing for the potential signing of pending free agents.

In closing, the structure of a team is not limited to salary exclusively. Looking at the current roster, in addition to casting an eye on a potential future lineup, I am immediately reflecting upon the transition this organization has undergone. Last year the Habs opened the season with an average roster player age very near the top of the league. The addition of Mike Weaver and the subtraction of Jarred Tinordi only pushed the average age higher. Now, less than 10 months removed from their final game last season, the Canadiens sport a much younger roster. In fact, the average age of the Montreal Canadiens lineup that faced the Ottawa Senators was 24.45 years, among the youngest in the entire NHL. Not only has the team continued to rise in the standings, fit within the existing and projected future salary cap range, but it is doing so with a much younger lineup. All this is to say that the organization is in very capable hand and trending towards blue chip status. Jack would be proud.

2 Comments

  1. André Leclerc

    March 15, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Just testing out comments section… Oh! and great read John 🙂

  2. Rob Ansell

    September 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Montrea mustl address its need,.for a top 2 center. 6″2′ +, preferably P. KANE if Marc Bergervin has nerve to hear Chicago out!