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Admiring the salary cap floor for Avalanche, Islanders

The Colorado Avalanche handed restricted free-agent forward T.J. Galiardi(notes) a new contract on Tuesday for 1 year and $700,000. It's actually a pay cut according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, as Galiardi took less in exchange for a one-way NHL contract rather than the two-way deal he had last season.

This signing leaves the Avalanche with one unsigned restricted free agent: Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey(notes), who made $675,000 last.

This signing also leaves the Colorado Avalanche $3,095,833 short of the salary cap floor according to Cap Geek — but they're not alone.

Admiring the salary cap floor for Avalanche, Islanders

The Avalanche, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes are all currently below the $48.3 million salary cap floor.

(Please recall that the salary cap ceiling was $39 million after the 2005 lockout. The NHL will call this an indication of incredible venue growth. We still call it a season lost in the name of alleged fiscal sanity.)

For some teams, the path to the floor is a bit more obvious than for others.

The Hurricanes will obviously get over the floor when they sign restricted free agent Brandon Sutter(notes), with GM Jim Rutherford having previously discussed a long-term deal with him.

The Jets have restricted free agents in Blake Wheeler(notes) (who filed for arbitration) and Zach Bogosian(notes), who will both earn raises. Wheeler alone would get them over the floor if (when?) he signs.

The NHL's Coyotes have Kyle Turris(notes), Mikkel Boedker(notes) and Lauri Kopikowski all unsigned as restricted free agents. With 11 forwards currently under contract, they'll be over the floor as well.

The Predators are have 20 players under contract and one significant name unsigned: Defenseman Shea Weber(notes), whose salary cap hit should be north of $6 million per season, especially if the term is shorter than previously anticipated. That'll eat up most of the "floor space," with the addition of another defenseman (even if it's rookie Ryan Ellis(notes)) potentially bringing them to the floor.

The Avalanche and the Islanders, however, have less obvious paths to the floor.

Colorado has 23 players under contract right now, with Cumiskey unsigned. That's a jam-packed roster, but Dater believes there's one more addition that would get the team over the floor (written before Galiardi's signing):

The easiest way the Avs will get to the cap floor, though, is with rookie Gabriel Landeskog. While he can only receive a max salary of $925,000 as a rookie, Landeskog likely will have a cap hit of about $3 million because of bonuses that can be added in to the team cap number. Once you add Landeskog's likely $3 million hit to probably a combined $2 million hit for Galiardi and Cumiskey, the Avs get over the floor.

Keep in mind the Avalanche didn't creep over the floor last season until October. Also keep in mind that the talk of the team trading Paul Stastny(notes) and his $6.6 million cap hit is positively daft considering their cap situation; unless, like, a Wade Redden(notes)-like cap albatross is coming back the other way.

(One other Avs note: They have SEVEN players under contract for 2012-13. Are these the next Florida Panthers of free-agency next summer?)

The Islanders need to add $10.4 million in salary to reach the floor, but have only 18 players under contract. Blake Comeau(notes) is the biggest RFA name, but Josh Bailey(notes) and Ty Wishart(notes) are also restricted free agents.

They've got a lot of ground to make up. Having Nino Niederreiter(notes) and his $2.795 million cap hit added to the group of forwards is a start. But the Islanders, one expects, will inevitably become a home for wayward unrestricted free agents right up until camp ... unless Garth Show decided to (finally) get aggressive and add salary through trades.

Which is to say that Islanders fans are still waiting for their Jeff Carter(notes)-to-Columbus deal.

Scott Lewis of Houses of the Hockey has more on the Islanders and the cap floor. None of this would have happened if they just held on to Yashin. Or if Mike Milbury were still general manager.

UPDATE: Reader Sue Natan writes in with an interesting take on the Isles:

LA was in this position a few years ago, it looked like they wouldn't hit the floor.  People were asking what the penalty would be, fines, forfeiture of games, etc., and all that's in the CBA is that they would be ineligible for revenue sharing.  Well, the LA — and the Isles — are ineligible for revenue sharing because of the markets they play in.  No team that plays in the 4 largest media markets can be eligible for revenue sharing.  For teams like the Isles, it's a penalty without any meaning.

Now, perhaps it would mean that the NHL would be very unhappy with them and they would find that they would get no cooperation from HQ, but they are already treated differently — worse, differently — in things like discipline, so it really doesn't matter.  I'd love to see them have to take Rolston off NJ's hands to hit the floor but the truth is, there's not much the NHL can do if they decide not to take on contracts that would get them there.

As a Devils fan, I'd have no problem if the Islanders took Rolston off their hands. None whatsoever.

UPDATE 2: Heard from the NHL on this theory above. They said it's not accurate: "Teams simply are not permitted to play games unless their roster fits within the floor-to-ceiling range."

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