The easy way out of cap trouble may not be the best

The Pittsburgh Penguins, at least for the time being, have over $82.5 million in the NHL’s pay for the coming season.

Of course how much depends on how one configures their major-league roster for the start of the regular season, but estimates of their breaches range from $780,176 for a 23-man group on to $780,176 on Runs up to $1,480,475 for 24 players, which is a limit over which clubs are allowed to carry.

And while Ron Hextall is expected to attempt to address the overage by attempting to trade a defenseman or two—the Penguins currently have nine NHL-calibers on the payroll—there’s no guarantee that He will be able to do a favorable job.

or acceptable.

After all, almost half of the league’s 32 clubs are above the ceiling or in serious flirtation with it, so it will be a buyer’s market as teams move to come into compliance by the end of the preseason.

Furthermore, Hextall does not assess significant leverage in any trade negotiations, noting that rival GMs can also read depth charts, and certainly feel that if Hextall does not deal with a defender. , then he will have no option but to disclose. At least one for a discount, and risk the real possibility of losing that asset to nothing.

Of the nine defensemen coming into the mix for spots on the NHL roster, ty smith Only one is still exempt from rebate. He is also the only one with a two-way contract; His entry-level deal last season cost $832,500, but only $70,000 when Smith played in the American Hockey League.

(Smith’s pay-cap hit is actually $863,333 because the $92,500 signing bonus was paid in full during his rookie season.)

His contract and exemption status could see Smith acquired from New Jersey. john marino On a fast track to business, Wilkes-Barre, if he has a weak training camp.

That would make it easier for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office, but it would also frustrate — and perhaps surprise — the decision-makers there. Smith, with only two professional seasons on his resume, looks far from a finished product, but some in the organization believe he has top four abilities.

Promise doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity, but Smith is likely to get every opportunity to prove that he can contribute to the parent club immediately.

whether further Drew O’Connor What will be borne is unclear. He’s a candidate to fill a bottom six role and is working on a one-year deal that pays $750,000 whether he’s in the NHL or a minor but, like Smith, it’s a waiver to go to Wilkes. Will not have to through – Barre.

That would be a huge — and obvious — tiebreaker, should O’Connor end up in a coin-toss fight with someone else for position with the Penguins.

However, this is the only situation in which a player should be exempted from the waiver, which should be a significant factor in deciding whether to be taken off the major-league roster because of a misconceived roster move – his intention Whatever it is – could have an impact on the standings.

And it may determine that, when the regular season ends in mid-April, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ streak of consistent playoff appearances, currently at 16, is alive.

The top three clubs in each division qualify for berths in the postseason, as do seventh and eighth finishers in both conferences. It would be foolish for the Penguins, even with what appears to be a somewhat advanced depth chart, to assume that they would be one of eight to make it to the Eastern Conference.

They had the former’s seventh-best record in 2021–22, and none of the clubs that finished ahead of them had the figures to know this winter. And many who were behind them – Ottawa and Detroit immediately come to mind – look much better.

That doesn’t mean the penguins seem to be in immediate danger of falling into the draft-lottery zone. With a little over a week left for training camp to begin, they’ll be heading closer to the top of the Metropolitan Division than to the bottom of it.

However, it assumes a few things: 1) that their key players remain reasonably healthy, which has been a recurring issue in recent seasons, and 2) that they consistently deploy the strongest possible lineup, even though How much a player earns, or whether he is exempt from rebates.

Taking the necessary steps to clear a roster spot for Smith and/or O’Connor, if they prove to be worthy of one, may not be easy. Hextall could be forced to do business with someone he would prefer to keep, or risk losing a capable role player at a discount.

The Penguins understand how difficult it is to win the Stanley Cup, especially after being jailed for four consecutive years post-season in Round 1. No doubt they also realize that if you don’t qualify for the playoffs it is infinitely difficult – that is, impossible.

And every point earned or lost due to personnel decisions could make all the difference in whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins give themselves a chance to compete for another championship next spring.

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