Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Projecting the 2007-08 Thrashers Roster

The off season is the time when every fan gets to play around at being GM. On the various message boards I see people throwing out hypothetical lineups and salaries so today I'll give it a shot.

Soon NHL and NHLPA will discuss what next year's salary cap number will be, but based upon the data that is floating around out there, it looks like next season's cap number will be somewhere around $48 million. Now the huge question is how much will the Thrashers spend? Regardless of what happens to the cap, the ownership group probably will not start out near the cap number and may ask DW to keep losses in check. So let's say for the moment they set $40 million as the starting budget for the team this year. So what sort of team could we expect to see for that much money?

Below I have a chart that shows what a $40 million team might look like. I have each player listed and how much money I think they would earn. Player names in bold are unrestricted free agents and salaries that are in bold are also my guess. (Note that the salaries listed are cap salary number, not the actual salary numbers.) Now my salary estimates for the UFA may be off but I think they are realistic guesses.

I've made a couple of working assumptions that the team will attempt to resign Belanger, Dupuis, Sim and Hnidy and that those players will return but with pay raises. The odds are that not all of these players will be back, but for now I'm going to assume that they return. Also I assume that several rookies make the team including Sterling, Stuart, Oystrick and Popovic. I don't think that this is crazy given the success of the Chicago Wolves, the quality of the players mentioned and the financial realities this team faces.

The key question is who will take the roster spots of Kozlov and Tkachuk. If the team only has $40 to work with I doubt we will see either one return because the money simply is not there. If the team stays under $40 million I would expect to see Sterling replace Kozlov and some cheap center (perhaps Haydar/Krog/Little) replace Tkachuk on that line.

A $40 Cap Thrasher Payroll
Hossa 6.0 Hossa 6.0
Belanger 1.3 Belanger 1.9
Kovlov 2.3 Sterling .6
Kovalchuk 6.4
Kovalchuk 6.4
Thachuk 5.7 Little/Haydar
.5
Sim .6 Sim 1.2
Holik 4.3 Holik 4.3
Larsen .9 Larsen .6
Dupuis .8 Dupuis 1.1
Vigier .5 random checker .5
Slater .9 Slater 1.0
Mellanby 1.2 Boulton
.5
McKenzie .5 McKenzie .5
Zhitnik 3.5 Zhitnik 3.5
Havelid 2.7 Havelid 2.7
De Vreis 2.2 Oystrick .6
Exebly .6 Exelby 1.1
Sutton 1.9 Popovic .5
Hnidy .6 Hnidy .8
McCarthy .8 McCarthy .8
Lehtonen 1.9 Lehtonen 1.9
Hedberg 1.0 Hedberg 1.0
Rucchin 2.1 Rucchin 2.1

48.3
39.9

Now if DW is allowed to spend more than $40 million on the payroll we could see the center spot ungraded from Krog to say a Mike Comrie who might make $2-3 million or even a Nylander or a return by Kozlov. If he is given $45 to work with DW could upgrade to say a Scott Gomez at the pivot sport or take a run a Mathieu Schneider or Scott Hannan at the D position.

As you can see from this exercise the starting budget will make a huge difference in terms of what sort of top forwards we see on next year's team. This is why I was saying before that getting swept out of the playoffs really hurt the organization. If the Thrashers had advanced to the 2nd round the increased playoff revenue (and future season ticket sales) might have led ownership to be willing to spend more out of the gate next year. Based upon what happened last year I'm going to guess that Waddell will probably have a number that starts at $40-42 with an option to add salary later depending upon the team's performance and perhaps ticket sales. I expect that the 2007-08 Thrashers will have to battle hard to get into the playoffs next year unless they get some surprise performances from their rookies.

3 Comments:

  • Nice analysis. Makes me wonder if we will see DW trying to move a player or two to open cap space. I do think that there is a good chance we will see Enstrom (sp) and/or Nikulin next fall.

    By Anonymous Bluto, at 12:45 PM  

  • Do you really think Jon Sim played well enough to double his salary next year? I like his spunk and hope to keep him around, but his penalty minutes and inconsistency make me think doubling his salary is a little much. He seams more a .8 than a 1.2 in my book.

    By Blogger Jennifer, at 2:28 PM  

  • Jennifer: Slater is going to make nearly 1 million and Sim had more points so if I were Sim's agent I would certainly ask for over 1 million.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 6:43 PM  

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