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Dallas Stars Gain Financial Flexibility With Ribeiro's Departure

Ribeiro's departure gives the Stars the ability to be big spenders but also be cautious of the eventual lowering of the cap.
Ribeiro's departure gives the Stars the ability to be big spenders but also be cautious of the eventual lowering of the cap.

The NHL and the NHL Players association have agreed! ...On a new salary cap and floor... That will not, in all likelihood, matter a single bit. The irony of which, given their upcoming disagreements, is not lost on hockey fans who greet that announcement today with resounding indifference.

The new $70.2 million salary cap will last from July 1st all the way to a new CBA and no games will be played under it, or over the new floor of $54.2 million. General managers, however, do have to navigate trades and free agency under it, all while playing a bit of a guessing game on what the final numbers will be when the season commences.

The Dallas Stars eased their potential burden a bit when they traded center Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Cody Eakin and a second round pick. It was a hockey trade, not made for financial reasons, but nevertheless Joe Nieuwendyk picked up $4.36 million in additional cap space in the move, bringing their total official space, according to Cap Geek close to $30.6 million.

The real number is a little more complicated than that, and the real world application of the number is almost moot under threat of a new CBA with an almost assuredly lower ceiling. Let's update the Stars financials following the Ribeiro trade after the jump...

Read More: NHL Free Agency 2012: Lame Duck Salary Cap Increase Provides Stars With Big Challenge

Here is the new list of Dallas Stars' cap hits after Mike Ribeiro's $5 million has been taken away.

All of the RFA's in this list have been included because they have been extended qualifying offers and it's believed they will be on the roster for the foreseeable future.

Player Cap Hit (Millions)
Loui Eriksson 4.25
Brenden Morrow 4.1
Michael Ryder 3.5
Steve Ott 2.95
Vernon Fiddler 1.8
Eric Nystrom 1.4
Coy Eakin 0.6378
Jamie Benn RFA
Tom Wandell RFA
Ryan Garbutt RFA
Tom Vincour 0.8
Alex Goligoski 4.6
Stephane Robidas 3.3
Trevor Daley 3.3
Adam Pardy 2
Mark Fistric RFA
Philip Larsen RFA
Kari Lehtonen 3.55
Richard Bachman RFA

That gives the Stars, in actuality, about $34 million in actual cap space under the current agreement. That's if you don't count Scott Glennie, Brenden Dillon, or Reilly Smith like Capgeek does, and there's really no reason why you should count any of them at the moment.

The Stars have extended qualifying offers to Benn, Larsen, Bachman, Garbutt, Wandell and Fistric on this list, and the sum total of all of that, with Jamie Benn getting the lions share of the bigger money, could come out to anywhere between $10-13 million dollars. We could debate who will get what until we're blue in the face (or green?), but for brevity let's say Benn will get about $5 million (just taking a stab in the dark here) and then fill in the rest from there.

This brings us to somewhere in the neighborhood of $48 million committed to 11 forwards, 6 defensemen, and two goaltenders. From there the Stars would need to add two or three forwards and a defenseman. A good one.

How much do they commit on top of that? How much can their owner afford to commit?

Tom Gaglardi has given no indications of a ceiling thus far on the budget - Only that he wants to improve the roster if it makes sense and betters the team for the future. So let us, for the sake of this argument, assume that the only real limitation is fear of the new CBA and a cap rollback.

Mike Heika has said he believes the Stars think they might be able to take advantage of such a situation by having the room to absorb a sizable contract in need of ditching by another team, if that's the way the negotiations head. That too depends on what happens July 1st. If the Stars should manage to land a big fish or two their payroll will approach $60 million in a hurry, and that's about as far as anyone hedging their bets on a new CBA might be willing to go. In that way the Stars $34 million in cap room is more like $12-13M to play with on July 1st, depending on how cautious they want to be. Again, this is just me guessing here. We just don't know.

It may or may not be worth stating at this point that under the current rules the Stars (or anyone else) can go as high as $77~ million worth cap hits in the summer before needing to trim down to $70.2M (or whatever the new number is) by opening day.

The Mike Ribeiro trade essentially gives the Stars the ability to be big spenders on a piece or maybe even two, if they wish, as well as stay relatively cautious in an unpredictable financial situation with CBA talks beginning this Friday. That's a favorable position, but the hurdle of attracting free agents to Dallas in the first place to take full advantage of that position remains.

For now we're just happy that Sean Avery's cap hit, for the first time in four seasons, is no longer factoring into these calculations.