The New Jersey Devils made a bold move at the 2015 NHL Draft by acquiring Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a pair of draft picks. We all know how that turned out: Kyle became one of our most valuable forwards this season and one of two 30 goal scorers along with Adam Henrique. With the salary cap not projected to increase very much at all, today I take a look at teams who Ray Shero should be looking to call this summer to possibly swing a somewhat similar deal.
The Cap Strapped
If the Devils are to find the "next Kyle Palmieri" so to speak, they will need to target a team that is already close to the salary cap and has a young player or two that will be due for a raise while said team is still strapped for cap space. For the purpose of this article, I used salary numbers courtesy of General Fanager to look at possible poaching targets.
The Chicago Blackhawks were the first team that appears to be in some trouble next season (as they were this past offseason) as they have roughly $8 million to spend, only 28 contracts and Andrew Shaw is a restricted free agent who may be due a raise. Even if Shaw doesn't command much more, the real trouble for Chicago begins 2 years from now when Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen are both due for raises; Chicago will either have to trade one along with a larger cap hit (Marcus Kruger? An aging Marian Hossa?) for some relief or they will probably wind up losing at least one of them to (as uncommon as it is) an offer sheet. If I were Ray Shero I'd be calling Chicago about Teuvo.
The next team that came up as I browsed each team's cap situation was believe it or not the Columbus Blue Jackets; for a team that performed as poorly as Columbus did this season, they have a large amount of money tied up over the next few seasons. Seth Jones will be due a raise, as will Alexander Wennberg; bridge deals and a couple of youngsters filling in the gaps in the lines could make this bearable for Columbus. There's not much of interest on their roster that I would see the Jackets parting with, and as they're a divisional rival now, it's probably best to let them stew in their cap problems, especially if Jones or Wennberg determine they deserve to be paid now.
The Dallas Stars could have some issues in the next couple of years, but it depends on who they determine is a core player versus who isn't; with so many contracts up in the air for their team, it's hard to draw a bead on whether they will need cap relief or not.
The Detroit Red Wings are an interesting case if and only if the Pavel Datsyuk rumors are true (and at this point it seems like they are) about him leaving the NHL after this season; while he is under contract with Detroit for next season, I could see him taking the Ilya Kovalchuk Retirement Route leaving the Wings with some extra cap space. If his contract is off the books, then Detroit has some ability to work; if not, Shero should be calling and seeing if we can take Gustav Nyquist off their hands. He had a bit of a down season, but we need young right wingers badly, and if he's available it's worth at least asking what the price is.
The Los Angeles Kings are going to have some tough decisions to make this offseason, as they have Milan Lucic as an unrestricted free agent, yet very little cap space with which to re-sign him. LA also does not have a backup goalie signed for next season, so there will again need to be some smart money managing, or a trade being made. Tyler Toffoli is definitely an appealing name on the right side, but the Kings more than likely would not part with him; while there may be a deal that the Kings need to make, it may just be with a team other than us.
The Minnesota Wild are a bit low on cap space and are going to have a number of young players hitting restricted free agency over the next two summers; most of those players will be due for a raise. Due to how some things shook out in the summer of 2012, I'm not inclined to help the Wild; Mr. Shero might feel differently, but I'm done here. Next!
Our Hated Rivals are also going to be in a bit of a crunch due to the number of young RFAs that will be due for a raise; again, not inclined to help and Shero should help keep the rivalry alive by not even dialing their GM.
Ray's old team the Pittsburgh Penguins are in a load of trouble; their projected salary for next season is already higher than their salary for this season! Pascal Dupuis will get LTIR'd again, which will allow them to exceed the cap by his salary and probably squeeze Beau Bennett and one of their UFAs in. If they want to keep Justin Schultz however they will need to make a trade. Familiarity may help here, though again New Jersey is weakest on the right side and outside of Bennett, I'm not sure there's a deal to be made.
Lastly, I'll include the Tampa Bay Lightning here because if they res-sign Steven Stamkos to a new contract with a higher cap charge than his older one, they will be in a crunch the next couple of seasons. This may be a team to try and take a player from next summer rather than this one.
Some of the other NHL teams may have some tough decisions to make on who they should and should not sign/re-sign this summer, but these are the ones that to me seemed to be in the most dire of financial constraints that may necessitate a move this summer.
Now I'd like to hear who you think the Devils should be targeting; do you think Shero makes a similar trade as the Palmieri one? If so, with which team? Do you think any of the teams up against the cap will have to sell off multiple players? Is there some other trade you see the Devils making, perhaps with a non-strapped team? Will the team simply stay the course, draft a first round player and sign some free agents? Leave any and all thoughts below and as always thank you for reading!