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The Senators are Essentially Circumventing the Cap

August 5, 2019, 12:44 AM ET [39 Comments]
Trevor Shackles
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
You can follow me on Twitter @ShackTS

It’s the worst kept secret that the Ottawa Senators are incredibly cheap and will be spending the least amount of money amongst all NHL teams this coming season. They have been spending less and less over the past decade, and that is of course due to Eugene Melnyk’s dwindling financial situation. He cannot be a long-term owner of the team and I think the league knows that. The Senators have become a farce when it comes to spending because fans know that essentially every decision made comes down to money as opposed to talent.

The salary floor for the 2019-20 season is set at $60.2M, with no teams below that mark, meaning everybody will be cap compliant (at least in regards to the floor). The Senators team cap hit sits at $65,859,999, which is well over the floor, and one would think that it is more than Melnyk would want to spend. Well, that’s where you’d be right.

Despite that cap hit, Ottawa is only going to spending $47.5M in 2019-20, over $18M less than it looks like:

There are five players on their roster that have lower salaries than their cap hits, plus Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, and Clarke MacArthur are being used on the injured reserve carrying a cap hit of $15.325M despite only having to pay the three of them $2.525M. Melnyk is able to get away with paying $47.5M this season even though that would be nowhere near the cap floor...the fact that this is allowed under the CBA is asinine because it’s not as if you can argue that the team is spending enough in order to field a competitive team.

Taking the three forwards on the IR off the books would make the Senators just under $10M under the cap floor, so they would be in big trouble. None of Callahan, Gaborik, and MacArthur are going to be playing, plus Melnyk hardly even has to pay them anything, but he gets to use them towards the salary cap because he is taking advantage of the system. There are teams who are spending around $80M on their roster this season, meaning they will be spending over $30M more than the Senators, which is ridiculous to think about.

Now, from Melnyk’s perspective, I can see why he would go this route, because why spend more when he doesn’t have to? In addition, it’s not as if the Senators are the first team to do this with the cap floor. However, it’s frustrating for fans when there is this illusion that the team is spending “enough,” when in reality they are nowhere near the actual salary cap floor, and even reaching the floor would not be good enough. Should the team be spending crazy now that they are in the middle of a rebuild? No, but this team had the chance to keep many good players without breaking the bank and they decided not to, so it’s not as if this decision to not spend is related to their rebuild.

We can hope that in a few years when the team is on the rise that Melnyk will begin to spend on his young players and external acquisitions, but there is literally no reason to believe that will be the case based on history. Ottawa is essentially circumventing the cap right now because the team does not have enough cash flow, and nothing will change until there is new ownership.
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