HabsWorld.net -- 

As the Habs’ offseason tinkering continues, it’s
time to take a look at where they stand.  With the recent re-signing of
Maxim Lapierre, there remains just one restricted free agent to re-sign, the
newly crowned #1 goalie, Carey Price.  How much do the Habs have left to
spend on him and potentially another free agent/trade pickup?  Read on to
find out.

Under Contract

The easiest place to start is with the players
actually under contract that realistically are expected to make the roster. 
For the sake of discussion, I’m including newly acquired Lars Eller in this spot
but if the cap dictates otherwise, he could find himself with the AHL’s Hamilton
Bulldogs.  (Figures are rounded to the nearest dollar.)

Player Cap Hit
Alex Auld $1,000,000
Dustin Boyd 650,000
Mike Cammalleri 6,000,000
Mathieu Darche 500,000
Lars Eller 1,270,833
Hal Gill 2,250,000
Brian Gionta 5,000,000
Scott Gomez 7,357,143
Josh Gorges 1,100,000
Roman Hamrlik 5,500,000
Andrei Kostitsyn 3,250,000
Maxim Lapierre 900,000
Andrei Markov 5,750,000
Travis Moen 1,500,000
Ryan O’Byrne 941,667
Tomas Plekanec 5,000,000
Benoit Pouliot 1,350,000
Tom Pyatt 500,000
Jaroslav Spacek 3,833,333
P.K. Subban 875,000
Subtotal $54,527,976
Georges Laraque buyout 500,000
Total (20 players) $55,027,976

For 2010-11, the salary cap has been increased
to $59.4 million, which is roughly $4.4 million more than the above amount. 
For simplicity’s sake, let’s use an injury/trade cushion of $700,000 (the amount
the Habs should start the season under the cap to give them some wiggle room in
case of injuries or acquisitions later on in the season),
which leaves about $3.7 million (rounded) to spend on free agents, be they restricted
(Price) or
unrestricted after backing out last season’s overage.

Restricted Free Agents

Suffice it to say, the Habs will be quite busy
this offseason simply by renegotiating deals with their own RFA’s.  Though
not all the RFA’s will be on the roster, let’s get the issue of the qualifying
offers out of the way; here was the required offer to retain each player’s

Player 09-10 salary QO
Cedrick Desjardins 500,000 550,000
Carey Price* 765,000 803,250
Ryan Russell 520,000 572,000
Brock Trotter 687,500 721,875

* – For Price, I am assuming he received the
maximum signing bonus on his entry level deal which is $85,000 (10% of his
$850,000 salary).  Qualifying offers back these and other bonuses out. 
The other players will likely have lesser offers as well because of their
signing bonuses, however, those players would not have received max bonuses –
estimates of their bonuses have not been factored in. 

Qualifying offer thresholds:
If the player’s salary is below $660,000, the offer is 110% of his 09-10
If the player’s salary is above $660,000 and below $1,000,000, the offer is 105%
of his 09-10 pay, up to a maximum of $1,000,000.
If the player’s salary exceeds $1,000,000, the offer is 100% of his 09-10 pay;
in other words, what the player received in salary (not cap hit) last season.

Of the above list, only Price is guaranteed to
make the team.  Trotter might because of his waiver situation, but that’s
another story.  It’s hard to pencil a value in for Price as term will
dictate the salary; a 1 year deal will be much cheaper than a 3-year pact. 
Assuming the Habs want to keep as many trade/signing options open, a 1 year deal
makes the most sense right now (which is why he isn’t signed).  A contract
at that term should fall around $2 million (give or take a few hundred thousand)
so to move on, that’s the number we’ll use.  The sides are talking a
long-term deal that likely won’t be finalized until the Habs are sure they’re
done on the market; what’s left after any move(s) (if any) will dictate the term
of Price’s contract.  Here’s what the situation looks like summarized:

Salary Cap $59,400,000
Under contract 55,027,976
RFA estimate 2,000,000
Injury/trade cushion 700,000
09-10 overage 68,751
Left to spend $1,603,273

The roster (with Price) stands at 21 players: 2
goalies, 7 defencemen, and 12 forwards.  The Habs will likely want to carry
at least 1 spare forward, while the Andrei Markov knee injury will likely force
an extra d-man to make the team for a while.  (Note that because the Habs
will be safely under the cap, no LTIR whatsoever will be available to them, so
don’t get your hopes up for that this year…)  Here are the cap
hits/qualifying offers (italicized) for some of the players who could crack the
team from camp: 

Player Cap Hit/QO
Mathieu Carle $660,000
Andreas Engqvist 900,000
Ben Maxwell 850,000
Max Pacioretty 910,000
Brock Trotter* 721,875
Yannick Weber 875,000
Ryan White 850,000

The Habs can also opt to send Eller to Hamilton
and keep an extra one of these players, which would free up a few hundred
thousand in extra cap space.  Even so, the odds of signing an impact UFA
are minimal which means that the next couple of months before training camp will
most likely be quiet, pending any trades of course.