It comes as no surprise that there is a goaltending controversy with the Washington Capitals when you look at the numbers. Jose Theodore, Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth are 3 winning goaltenders, with 3 similar save percentages and roughly similar goals against averages. The only thing that isn’t really similar is the cost. Theo currently is signed to a $4.5M contract, while both Varlamov and Neuvirth are signed through next year at $0.82M each. When you look at it as purchasing a product, which is essentially what this business is, the Theodore deal seems incredibly expensive- you have essentially paid 3 times as much for 1 guy as you have for 2 guys. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers, and play GM after the jump.
GP = 39, GS = 36 / 25-7-6
GP = 20, GS = 18 / 13-3-3
GP = 17, GS = 16 / 9-4-0
Obviously extremely lucrative contracts are not unheard of in the NHL, or even on the Caps, especially when you consider OV’s salary at $9.5M (approximately 6x both Neuvi and Varly). It does, however, present an issue in the new NHL market under a salary cap. The biggest issue a GM can take out of this, however, when considering Theo’s contract is the lack of a clear distinction between the numbers. For all intents and purposes, by the books the three goalies are performing through the course of the season at the same level. That’s taking all the good and the bad, shaking it up and seeing where it falls.
At this very moment, heading into the playoffs it’s hard to not make a case for Theo as the Caps # 1 goaltender, and I’m not going to dispute that. I have a great deal of respect for the man, especially after losing his son this summer, then coming out this season and playing some of his best hockey in years. I think it’s incredible, and it’s something to admire. I will even go as far as to say that I like Theo and, business not withstanding, would like to see him in Washington for a while. Unfortunately, hockey is a business and while liking a player factors into team chemistry the price still has to be right.
Let’s take a look at the whole team picture when we consider his price. We currently have Varly and Neuvi signed for $1.6M total through next year, or roughly 33% of what Theo costs. They are a small part of the current committed cap space for the Caps, who have about $36.569M committed against a cap of $56.8M. That’s slightly more than $20M open. Let’s take a look at the Caps who are UFA & RFA and not signed through next season to better see how this team can be kept together.
The forwards who are not signed for next season are:
* Backstrom (RFA - estimated to make $6M)
* Walker (UFA - $2.5M)
* Belanger (UFA - $1.75M)
* B.Morrison (UFA - $1.5M)
* Fehr (RFA – estimated to make $1.2M)
* Fleischmann (RFA - estimated to make $1.5M)
$14.45M Estimated Total
The defense who are not signed for next season are:
* Corvo (UFA - $2.625M)
* S.Morrisonn (UFA - $1.975M)
* Jurcina (UFA - $1.375M)
* Schultz (RFA - estimated to make $1.975M)
$7.95M Estimated Total
So if we sign everybody above for what are my estimations (which are based on other players, rumors, and speculations… so definitely not science) we would be spending $22.4M to keep the team together. Now that you know who we don’t currently have, let’s look at who we do out of the number of roster spots.
Forwards (6 of 12):
* Ovechkin ($9.54M)
* Semin ($6M)
* Knuble ($2.8M)
* Laich ($2.06M)
* Chimera ($1.875M)
* Steckel ($1.1M)
* Bradley ($1M)
Defense (6 of 6):
* Green ($5.25M);
* Poti ($3.5M);
* Erskine ($1.25M);
* Carlson ($846K);
* Sloan ($700K)
* Alzner ($1.675M)
Goalies (2 of 2):
* Varlamov ($822K)
* Neuvirth ($822K)
If we take those numbers we have roughly $17.6M left over, which would mean we would need to shave $4.8M from our potential signings before we got the players signed. That’s 2-4 guys not coming back as Caps next season. Did you notice that Theo was not in those numbers? Add in that $4.5M and you are looking at a lot more players not coming back as Caps… between 6-8 players. A huge difference.
This doesn’t even take into consideration the free agent market which looks to be incredibly lucrative this summer with players like Nik Lidstrom, Scott Neidermayer, Patrick Marleau, Pavel Kubina, Tomas Plekanec, and Tomas Holmstrom on the market.
So you’re the GM… who do you resign? Presuming that the Caps don’t want to make any moves in the free agent market place, which would be a surprise, I would wager the easiest decisions to make would be:
* Scott Walker and Brendan Morrison are not resigned saving you $4M, but inking Belanger, Backstrom, Fehr and Fleischmann keep a solid corps together up front.
* Shaone Morrisonn is not resigned saving you $1.975M and giving you a little bit of breathing room for call ups on the Salary Cap. I'm also interested in bringing back Corvo and Schultz.
The Capitals have a lot of options this off season, and they are a lot of GOOD options. However, I feel signing Theo again would be a pretty big mistake considering the impact it would have on their Cap, even if he took a substantial pay cut.