Apr 26, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) stops New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the shootout to end the game at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Salary Cap Bargains and Busts for 2013

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The NHL’s salary cap has a strong hold on many NHL Franchises as the new CBA’s $64 million limit has made it hard to keep stars seeking raises and long-time veterans occupying big dollars in cap space.

So until the cap hopefully soars next year, here’s a look at what teams are sitting pretty with star quality players at a bargain price and which contracts will hurt teams in the long run, all according to CapGeek.com.

Bargains:

1. John Tavares – Despite playing on Long Island, Tavares has made it clear what he can do. An increase in point totals every year since his rookie season. A pure goal scorer who in a lockout shortened season scored at a 50-goal season pace, hasn’t even hit his full potential.  What makes him even more of a stud is his cap hit — $5.5 million through the 2017-18 season.

Players with a similar cap hit: Shawn Horcoff (5.5mill), Mike Ribeiro (5.5 mill), Blake Wheeler (5.6mill). No comparison.

2. Duncan Keith – Chicago has let go important pieces from both of their cup winning squads, but have still found a way to stay relevant and part of that is because Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith are still around and at affordable cap hits. Keith is the backbone of Chicago’s defense. Though he’s making $7.65 million this season, his cap hit is only $5.5 million through the 2022-2023 season. The Blackhawks took advantage of the now illegal cap-circumvented deals.

Players with a similar cap hit: His own teammate Brent Seabrook’s hit is more ($5.8 mill), Matt Carle ($5.5 mill), Tyler Myers ($5.5mill)

3. David Backes – There are a few different players you could probably put above him, but at a cap hit of $4.5 million, the Captain of the St. Louis Blues is coming at quite a discount. A big body, who not only racks up penalty minutes, but wins big draws, plays great defensive hockey and has the ability to score 30+ goals? Bargain.

Players with comparable cap hit: Martin Erat (4.5mill), Ville Leino (4.5mill), Olli Jokinen (4.5mill).

Apr 16, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) looks to pass against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at the Scottrade Center. Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 16, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) looks to pass against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

But perhaps more than a bargain helps a team build dynasties, a bust contract can spell doom for any squad that isn’t careful with their money.

Busts:

1. Chris Pronger – Obviously there are a lot of factors that play into this contract being a bust. Pronger is a legend, and still was a force when they signed his contract, but still can’t deny the burden a $4.9 million cap hit for a guy who hasn’t suited up in almost two years.

2. Jay Bouwmeester — $6.6 million cap hit for a 29-year-old that seems to be a shell of his old self offensively is a lot to bite off. Especially when the next defenseman on the list other than the over paid Jason Garrison at the 40th richest contract in the NHL, doesn’t even crack the Top 50. Can you name 50 players in the NHL you’d draft before Bouwmeester? I can.

3. Paul Stastny – The Colorado Avalanche can’t wait to get his $6.6 million cap hit off the books when they feel he’s the third centerman on their depth charts. One slot above Bouwmeester at the 32nd highest salary, Stastny is occupying too much space. Luckily for the Avalanche, they haven’t been close to the cap ceiling for years.  Stastny has a great skill set, but never really had the chance to live up to the big dollar contract. Somewhere else for considerably less could lead to the 27-year-old’a resurgence.

Who do you think has a contract that’s the best bang for his team’s buck? Tweet me, @arbuckletv or leave your thoughts below.

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Tags: Chris Pronger Duncan Keith John Tavares NHL Salary Cap

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