In signing Tobias Rieder to a two-year deal with a cap hit of $2.225 million, the Arizona Coyotes currently have 51 contracts on their books.
They have less than a million dollars in cap space.
The Arizona Coyotes, against the ceiling. The team that the NHL owned all of three years ago. The one that is usually sniffing around the cap floor.
“Yeah, we’re a cap team,” said general manager John Chayka on Tuesday.
Of course, much of that cap space is actually dead space: The contracts for inactive Chris Pronger ($4.941 million), KHL center Pavel Datsyuk ($7.5 million), injured Dave Bolland ($5.5 million) and then buyout money to Mike Ribeiro ($1.44 million) and Antoine Vermette ($1.25 million).
But the fact remains that the Coyotes have $862,162 in cap space, according to General Fanager. They have the fifth highest cap number in the league right now. The Coyotes are, in fact, a cap team this season.
“We’ve got some flexibility. We obviously we have the ability, both the assets and in some cap space, to make moves if need be,” said Chayka.
The only cap concern for the Coyotes is that their players on entry level deals hit too many of their bonuses. “We have some young players with significant bonuses. Good young players,” said Chayka. “Hey, if they break our team, it makes the cap situation a little bit more difficult to navigate, but at the same time, those are good situations to have.”
The Coyotes are a cap team now, but that’ll change quickly when the dead weight is dropped: Datsyuk and Pronger come off the cap after this season, liberating them of over $12 million in space.
But for now, Chayka said being against the ceiling – as unaccustomed as this is for the Coyotes – will help them for down the line, when new contracts for Max Domi, Dylan Strome, Anthony Duclair and others could legitimately push them to the top of the cap.
“As we grow this thing, there’s a day when we foresee ourselves being a cap team. It’s good practice,” said Chayka.
Because being a cap team likely means that Chayka has built a successful one.
“I’m sick and tired of having all the flexibility in the world and not enough players to do anything with it,” he said.
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