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Salary Structure and You: The Pacific Division

Join us as our trip around the league's #salarystructure takes us to sunny California! And Alberta, because the hockey gods can't let anyone have nice things.

Bruce Bennett

Today's attention is drawn to my personal favorite division, the Canafornia Division. I like it because it means the Avs don't have to play against it as often as when half of it was the Northwest, and the rest were Western Conference foes that we still saw a lot of. A whole season playing nothing but California teams takes a heavy toll, the Avs can't seem to win in Alberta, and Phoenix Arizona are boring as hell. Putting them in one division gives us lots of entertaining latenight hockey and keeps the Avs from having to play them a lot. Good effort good job, NHL!

13-14 charts use either the $64.3 million cap or what the team spent as 100%, whichever is larger. (Some exceeded the cap due to bonuses.) 14-15 charts now use the announced salary cap for next season, which was set at $69 million, presumably by Jay Baruchel because it's hilarious. As always, you can click each graph to embiggen, and of course, this all may be outdated by the time you read it, depending on how drunk Yzerman gets tonight.

1. Anaheim Ducks (116 points)

I had already started this last night when the Lightning traded Nate Thompson to Anaheim. He adds slightly more than 2% to the 2014-15 Ducks salary.


Perry and Getzlaf makes the Ducks pretty Topheavy at forward. But the rest of the graph really isn't that simple at all. In fact I had a really hard time putting labels to this picture unless the forwards and defensemen receive seperate treatment. Thin Cap Team with Topheavy Forwards is a long and unwieldly title but I think it is the best descriptor we'll get here. No Anaheim defenseman made more than 6.2% of the cap last season, while Perry and Getzlaf took up over 25% just themselves (and no other forward touched 4%).

Even with the recent additions of Ryan Kesler and Nate "Sir Not-appearing-in-this-graph" Thompson Anaheim have a quarter of their cap left to fill out replacements for Selanne, Winnik, and Penner, plus three RFAs still to sign. We know from Perry/Getzlaf that they'll stay at least somewhat Topheavy but for now need to Sign Some Fucking Forwards.

2. San Jose Sharks (111 points)


At first glance San Jose looks like a pure Cap Team. But if you squint at it a little you may be able to see that the pie is dominated by three forwards (Thornton/Marleau/Havlat) and three defensemen (Boyle/Vlasic/Burns). It's not as bad as say Carolina, but the Sharks are a little imbalanced. And they know it too. For 2013-14 we're going to go with Topheavy Cap Team.

So what do you do? You get rid of some of that in the most efficient way possible. The Sharks have been rumored to trade Thornton and Marleau, but obviously the best course of action is to get rid of the least effective big contracts, which is exactly what they did when they bought out Havlat and traded Boyle's rights to the Islanders (hilariously).

So continuing the split-roster theme, San Jose look more like a structured Cap Team in their forwards, but they still need to Sign Some Fucking Players on the backend before we can really assess.

3. Los Angeles Kings (100 points)


This is a Cup Team, and has been twice in the last three years. What lessons can we learn?

For one they pay their defense more each than anyone else so far. 5 LA defenders make 4.5% or more of their cap. They afford this by having a clear structure in their forwards that should (doesn't, but should) translate into their lines: Kopitar, Richards, and Carter make 8+%, Williams, Stoll, and Brown make around 5%, and nobody else is higher than 2%.

Of course part of that is an accident of Gaborik's cap hit being less than 1.2% since he was a trade acquisition, but he will come in at 7% next season, which places him right in the pie where he belongs in the roster. But LA has some weird things going on in next season's pie. For one Dustin Brown gets a raise to 8.5%, which is an un-LA like salary for some #grit. Mitchell remaining unsigned may be an unfortunate reality as the Kings might get Crunched by the new cap trying to resupply their depth pieces.

It takes a lot of cheap parts to make that much money to Doughty and Quick work.

4. Arizona Coyotes (nee Phoenix) (89 points)


You know this doesn't look as much like a Budget Team as I'd really expected. They only left $6.3+ million on the table last season. (The Islanders, for comparison, left 11.6+, and Ottawa 8.) However, most of the money they did spend went to Ribiero and Doan up front, OEL, Yandle, and Michalek in back, and then Mike Smith's own nearly 9%, presumably for his multiple Oscar nominations. The reality here is somewhere on the borderline: Thin Budget-ish Team.

Next season, though, the Budget Team intentions are pretty clear. Several of the roster's key pieces are intact next season--including, apparently, a distinct lack of Ribiero--so they won't have a lot of changes to make and $14.7 million to make them with.

I just noticed I forgot to add Crombeen to the Coyotes when I added Gagner. That's 1.6% more, $1.15 million. God damn Tampa firesale.

5. Vancouver Canucks (83 points)


That's a little strange, isn't it? It looks just like Los Angeles. They've spent over a third of their cap on five defensemen; the issue of course being that those defensemen are by and large noticeably shittier than LA's. In fact, that's a perfect description for everything about this. From Sedin-Sedin-Kesler to Luongo to the blueline, Vancouver's structure is Like Los Angeles Only Shittier.

So you can kind of see where they're coming from in dumping Garrison and bringing in Sbisa, but they still have Tanev to qualify--an RFA who already makes $4.5 million. And losing Kesler's 7.5% frees up some forward space (which the Sedins instantly start pushing into with a small raise). Next year Vancouver will probably look like a Topheavy Cap Team once they've signed all 5 of the RFAs they have and added bits.

Don't worry. It gets better as we keep moving north...

6. Calgary Flames (77 points)


Is it me or does that look exactly like Buffalo's did? Buffalo spent slightly more money, but the last team that looked like this we branded with the label There Aren't Words. David Jones, remember him?, is tied for third highest paid player on this team. Not forward. Player. Cammalleri and Wideman are ahead of him. They used 28 forwards and 12 defensemen. What a mess.

Fortunately for Burke's Pugnacious Flames of Truculence they've hardly got any NHL roster players signed and 47% of the cap to fix it. That doesn't include some of the kids like Baertschi or Grandlund (though it somehow does include Johnny Gaudreau), so the Flames might rely heavily on ELC players and RFAs like our old friend the Teej, especially if management feels it's time to go hard for Connor McDavid. Before we know they'll need to Sign Some Fucking Players.

7. Edmonton Oilers (67 points)


Okay. Wow. Who uses seven goaltenders?

I kind of feel bad for Oilers fans except they keep buying tickets for some reason. Edmonton have every need to Sign Some Fucking Players that Calgary has, but they've only got 29% of the cap to do it with. I mean, 8.7% apiece to Horseface, Eberle, and RNH makes things start to look slightly imbalanced, even though much more cap inflation makes them outstanding deals all in the near future. They also took steps to prevent a crap team having a highly paid core by shipping Sam Gagner southward.

Adding Nikitin is a good start, but at least in terms of Salary, is he going to be your 1D, Edmonton? They still have 3 RFAs to go on defense alone! Edmonton have already been shocking for years. How the front office remains in place is beyond me.

Unfortunately I cannot 100% promise that Conference III goes up for tomorrow morning. I'm going to do my best, guys, it's a lot of data to enter and a huge pain when people like Stevey Goddammit Why keep taking salary dumps into the division I'm working on. We'll see who the Avs compare to.