A little more than a week ago, Caps Assistant GM Don Fishman (a.k.a. possessor of perhaps my safest-for-work dream job) sat down with a group of season ticket holders for some "Chalk Talk," a team-hosted Q&A with a member of the organization.
Fishman was surprisingly candid about the team's salary cap situation - the Caps, at that point, were $190,000 below the $56.7 million ceiling. Not $305,000 below or $668,899 below, but $190,000 below.
So what does $190,000 get you in the NHL these days? Well, it'll get you about 55 days (not games, but days) of Chris Bourque or 50 days of Sami Lepisto or or 43 days of Simeon Varlamov or 21 days of Karl Alzner (or three days of Alex Ovechkin).
It'll also get you saving money wherever you can. For example, perusing the AHL transactions page, I noticed this:
A couple of paper transactions and $5,107.53 saved? Perhaps - every penny counts (note, too, that the team wasn't exactly broadcasting their moves either - the October 31 press release on Sloan's demotion noted that "Sloan, 27, returns to Hershey after being recalled by the Caps on Oct. 20."). [Update: see the comments for why the cap probably isn't why this was going on, though the underlying point remains]
So things are tight. Damn tight. And remember, teams have to leave some room for short-term injury replacements (i.e. if another defenseman goes down with a day-to-day injury and the team calls up Lepisto, they do so at $3,763.44 per day against the cap while the guy he's replacing is also still counting against the cap).
In other words, barring some serious salary cap shedding, this is the team the Caps will be going with the rest of the way. That $4 million right wing or blueliner you were hoping for at the deadline for a prospect and a pick? Don't count on it - if the Caps are at $190k below the cap at the deadline, they'll only be able to afford about nine days of a player at that salary.
Which brings us to King Karl. To make it easy, let's assume the Caps stay where they are vis a vis the cap and team health, and that they're going to send down Tyler Sloan to make room for Alzner and that they're willing to bump right up against the cap (which is unrealistic because of injuries, as noted before). The earliest it could possibly happen? March 13, give or take a day.
Like I said, these are your 2008-09 Caps - hope you like 'em.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
If you didn't catch this story on former Caps prospect Robert Mueller yesterday, make sure to now.... At least the Caps made Ryan Getzlaf's day suck a little more back in 2003 (and look - an article about that 2003 Entry Draft that mentions Eric Fehr, though not in the context of "impact players").... Somehow Alex Semin is losing All-Star votes. You can't pin this one on Sarah Palin, elitist liberal media!... A couple of power rankings from yesterday, where the Caps are up two to seventh at CBSSports.com and up three to sixth at The Hockey News (where they refer to Jose Theodore as either an emergency contraceptive pill or a Huey Lewis & The News album - and I'm not sure which is worse).... Wait, I thought it was Ovechkin, not Nicklas Backstrom, who folks thought resembled the Geico caveman.... Thanks to sk8 for passing along this article on John Erskine.... Want to know how Ben Clymer ended up in Minsk? I mean, other than by being a sub-NHL caliber hockey player? He's happy to tell you.... Finally, for the fan who needs all of his (or her) Carrie Milbank pictures in one place, there's this (thanks, Phil, from all of us).