As mentioned in my last article on the O'Reilly situation, the summer of 2014 could prove to be a tricky one for the Avalanche. Many of our big-name players are due for renewals prior to July 1st, so any contract longer than 2 years that we put on the books now, including O'Reilly's, needs to be mindful of this fact.
This is still a very young team, and there's a lot that can happen within 2 years that will change what these contracts look like. Sherman's affinity for trades will probably come into play as well, so the makeup of the club itself could change radically between now and then. Trying to guess cap hits now is next to impossible and up for interpretation, but assuming everyone's development stays on track and there aren't too many trades, here's what the team could be up against in two years:
|Name||Age||Current Cap Hit (mil)||Possible Cap Hit (mil)||Raise|
*Committed: Jones ($4 mil), Parenteau ($4 mil), Johnson ($3.75 mil), Hejda ($3.25 mil), Wilson ($2.25 mil), O'Brien ($2 mil), McLeod ($1.15 mil), Pickard/Attiokallio ($0.9 mil), Sgarbossa ($0.54 mil)
**Remaining: Assumes $68 million Cap & 23-man roster
Something else to keep in mind is that O'Byrne, Hejduk, Gaunce, Kobasew, and Bordeleau are due for contracts in 2013 and Elliott, Hishon, Zanon, Hunwick, and Giguere are due in 2014. I didn't count these players in the analysis, but some of them could certainly fill the remaining spots.
If Ryan O`Reilly receives around $4 million a year, that leaves around $6 million for 5 players, which is doable. Unfortunately, unless Barrie, Elliott, Gaunce, or Siemens proves to be the real deal in the next two seasons, we are still without a #2 defenseman. Elite blueliners don't exactly come cheap, especially since the Avs should be entering into the "Contending" lifecycle phase by 2014-15. Even though a $4 or $5 million cap hit for Radar won't destroy the team's finances, it will mean some tough decisions elsewhere on the roster in order to make room for said defenseman, let alone any upgrades to forwards we might wish to do.
Again, these numbers are a ballpark guess (and I'm sure there will be disagreement about them in the comments), but unless something drastic changes between now and the Summer of 2014, we will find ourselves flirting with the cap. Decisions we make now could snowball and drastically affect the team down the line.
Salary management in the Cap era is all about priorities and sacrifices. How much of a priority is O'Reilly, and what are the Avs willing to potentially sacrifice to sign him?