The Penguins already have made moves this offseason.
After two offseason trades, one NHL free agent signing, and with three restricted free agents still unsigned, how does the Penguins' salary cap situation look after four days into free agency? Let's take a look.
The Penguins' projected cap hit currently sits at $79,907,500. That leaves them with just $1,592,500 in projected cap space.
How is that $79,907,500 being spent? Here's what that includes:
FORWARDS (11 - $48,425,000)
• Evgeni Malkin - $9,500,000
• Sidney Crosby - $8,700,000
• Jake Guentzel - $6,000,000
• Patric Hornqvist - $5,300,000
• Alex Galchenyuk - $4,900,000
• Nick Bjugstad - $4,100,000
• Brandon Tanev - $3,500,000
• Bryan Rust - $3,500,000
• Jared McCann - $1,250,000
• Dominik Kahun - $925,000
• Dominik Simon - $750,000
DEFENSEMEN (8 - $26,350,000)
• Kris Letang - $7,250,000
• Justin Schultz - $5,500,000
• Brian Dumoulin - $4,100,000
• Erik Gudbranson - $4,000,000
• Jack Johnson - $3,250,000
• Juuso Riikola - $850,000
• Zach Trotman - $700,000
• Chad Ruhwedel - $700,000
GOALTENDERS (2 - $5,000,000)
• Matt Murray - $3,750,000
• Casey DeSmith - $1,250,000
Of those players, none is exempt from waivers. Trotman could likely start the season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which would give the Penguins $2,292,500 in cap space. That still isn't enough.
The Penguins currently have three NHL restricted free agents to whom they've extended qualifying offers -- Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese and Marcus Pettersson. Adam Johnson is also a restricted free agent, but with him still being exempt from waivers next season, we're excluding him from this discussion.
The only way those three can be signed under the current cap situation is if Trotman does indeed start the season in Wilkes-Barre, and all three players sign for just about the league minimum salary of $700,000. That won't happen.
The website hockey-graphs.com projects players' future salaries based on their current salary figures, salary figures around the league, and the players' statistics from the previous season. Essentially, a player's data is used to find comparable players around the league, and then given a projected salary based on the current market value for comparable players.
The current market suggests that Blueger could command a two-year deal with an average annual value of $876,263. Aston-Reese could draw somewhere in the two-year range with an average annual value of $1,268,315. Pettersson would draw the highest value, with a likely two-year deal with an average annual value of $1,600,911.
Let's assume those are the actual cap hits. That means that to sign the remaining restricted free agents, it would cost somewhere around $3,745,489. None of those players is exempt from waivers, either. Assuming Trotman starts in Wilkes-Barre, that still leaves $1,452,989 that would not fit into the Penguins' current cap situation.
That means that at least one more move has to be coming.
Who is expendable?
Jack Johnson is a likely answer. His $3.25 million cap hit, if unloaded for picks and prospects and no NHL roster players (or one making around league minimum), would solve the cap problem on its own. That would leave a top six of Letang, Schultz, Dumoulin, Gudbranson, Riikola and Pettersson.
Rust is another option. He has a comparable cap hit at $3.5 million, and is young enough that he could bring more value in the way of picks or prospects. He prefers to play on the right side, as does Hornqvist and new acquisitions Tanev and Kahun. The Penguins have enough right wingers to make Rust the most expendable of the forward group.
Tristan Jarry is still likely to be moved due to his waiver-exempt status expiring. The Penguins could try assigning him to Wilkes-Barre, but they risk losing him for nothing via waivers. That makes him a trade candidate, and he could be a throw-in in any potential moves to sweeten the deal.
On July 1, Jim Rutherford said, "There’s a good chance we’ll have to make another move” to get under the cap ceiling.
Another move is nearly a given. It's just a matter of who and when at this point.
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