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Examining The Correlation Between Goalie Salary Cap Allotment And Winning The Stanley Cup

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury. Robin Lehner. Winning the Stanley Cup (or even getting there).

Salary cap history says the Golden Knights can only select two, not all three.

Since 2009, there have been 11 Stanley Cup Champions. None of them have had a salary cap allotment of goaltenders reach higher than 11.31%. 22 teams have reached the final, the highest allotment was 12.26%. The average of all Stanley Cup Final participants since 2009, 8.83%.

Fleury is set to make $7 million next season. That’s 8.81% of the salary cap for him alone.

 AverageLowestHighest
Cup Winners8.83%4.74%11.31%
Final Participants8.55%4.67%12.26%
Conference Final Losers9.27%2.86%21.83%

In other words, Fleury alone puts the Golden Knights above the average. Figuring Lehner in sends the Golden Knights into a group that makes them an outlier even among conference final participants.

 Cap Hit% of Cap
$3m + Min Salary$3,700,0004.54%
$3m + $1.5m$4,500,0005.52%
$4m + Min Salary$4,700,0005.77%
$4m + $1.5m$5,500,0006.75%
$5m + Min Salary$5,700,0006.99%
$5m + $1.5m$6,500,0007.98%
$6m + Min Salary$6,700,0008.22%
$6m + $1.5m$7,500,0009.20%
Fleury + Min Salary$7,700,0009.45%
Fleury + $1.5m$8,500,00010.43%
Fleury + $3m$10,000,00012.27%
Fleury + $4m$11,000,00013.50%
Fleury + $5m$12,000,00014.72%
Fleury + $6m$13,000,00015.95%
Fleury + $7m$14,000,00017.18%

Here’s the cap allocation for every team to make hockey’s final four since 2009.

** – Stanley Cup Winner
* – Cup Finalist

Year% of CapTeamGoalies
2008-0921.83%CHIKhabibulin/Huet
2014-1514.42%NYRLundqvist/Talbot
2013-1412.29%MTLPrice/Budaj
2018-19*12.26%BOSRask/Halak
2011-1212.05%NYRLundqvist/Biron
2012-1311.67%PITFleury/Vokoun
2013-14*11.57%NYRLundqvist/Talbot
2009-1011.53%SJSNabokov/Greiss
2009-10**11.31%CHINiemi/Huet
2010-1111.28%TBLRoloson/Smith/Ellis
2008-09**10.76%PITFleury/Garon
2016-17*10.54%NSHRinne/Saros
2010-11**10.52%BOSThomas/Rask
2010-11*10.49%VANLuongo/Schneider
2017-18**10.13%WSHHoltby/Grubauer
2011-12*10.03%NJDBrodeur/Hedberg
2017-1810.00%WPGHellebuyck/Mason/Hutchinson
2013-14**9.88%LAKQuick/Jones
2015-169.63%TBLBishop/Vasilevskiy
2018-199.62%SJSJones/Dell
2014-15**9.52%CHICrawford/Darling
2015-16**8.93%PITMurray/Fleury
2016-178.84%ANAGibson/Bernier
2016-17**8.74%PITMurray/Fleury
2017-18*8.53%VGKFleury/Subban
2013-148.23%CHICrawford/Raanta/Khabibulin
2018-198.18%CARMrazek/McElhinney/Darling
2014-158.02%ANAAndersen/Gibson/LaBarbera/Bryzgalov
2017-187.43%TBLVasilevskiy/Domingue/Budaj
2015-16*7.42%SJSJones/Reimer
2012-13*7.29%BOSRask/Khudobin
2015-166.79%STLAllen/Elliott
2010-116.73%SJSNiemi/Niittymaki
2016-176.54%OTTAnderson/Condon
2012-13**6.35%CHICrawford/Emery
2018-19**6.29%STLBinnington/Allen
2008-095.76%CARWard/Leighton
2009-10*5.33%PHILeighton/Emery
2012-135.08%LAKQuick/Bernier
2011-125.05%ARISmith/LaBarbera
2008-09*4.79%DETOsgood/Conklin
2011-12**4.74%LAKQuick/Bernier
2014-15*4.67%TBLBishop/Vasilevskiy
2009-102.86%MTLHalak/Price

Just 15 of the 44 teams came in at over 10% and 23 were less than Fleury’s 8.81%.

The highest allotment of any team to reach the Conference Final was the 2008-09 Chicago Blackhawks with Nikolai Khabibulin ($6.75M) and Cristobal Huet ($5.65M). They spent an absurd 21.83% of the cap on the goaltender position and went on to receive a .899 save percentage and 2.97 goals against average in the playoffs. That team was paying Jonathan Toews $850k, Patrick Kane $875k, and Duncan Keith $1.475M. The very next year, monster contracts kicked in for their skaters, they got rid of  Khabibulin and went on to win the Cup with an allotment of 11.31%. (They also won two more Cups and reached another conference final over the next five years without an allotment over 10%.)

Quite simply, having multiple high-paid goalies is not a method for success in the playoffs. In the regular season, both goalies see plenty of action and there’s no question a solid tandem helps teams reach the postseason, but once there, one of the goalies, and his contract, is forced to sit on the bench and the skaters pay the price for it.

The Golden Knights enter this postseason with an allotment of 10.18% with Fleury at $7M and Lehner at $1.3M. If they were to win the Cup, they’d rank 4th of the previous 12 winners. Reaching the Final would put them in 7th of 23, and making the conference final would mean 15th of 45.

Thus, currently, they couldn’t possibly be in a better spot with a reasonable allotment and two stellar goalies. But if they want to keep Lehner, they’ll have to do something no other team has done this decade, and that’s win with more than 11.5% of the cap dedicated towards goalies.

No one is saying it’s impossible but improbable is fair.

*All salary cap figures in this article are sourced from CapFriendly.com and Spotrac.com*

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11 Comments

  1. Tim

    Ken your stats are what they are but we aren’t your average team. You say no one has spent that much on Goalies so we should follow suite. Why can’t we think outside the box like what happened in our expansion year. When we started all these hockey guru’s had us picked at the bottom how did that work out? Let’s face it our management team walk to the beat of a different drummer thankfully. Trade Stansty 17 goals 21 assists 38 points not bad but not that great. He’s not getting any younger goodbye Paul hello Robin.

    • See, that’s where you have it all wrong. Year 1, they were an irregular team. They weren’t trying to win and lucked into something. Then, when they did try they screwed it up by adding Tatar. Since the deadline in Feb 2018, they are the definition of an average team. Firing coaches prematurely. Overpaying in free agency. Forcing deadline deals. Refusing to play young players. They are everything McPhee teams have always been.

      • Joannie

        Wow, I bet the players were surprised to find out they weren’t trying to win in year 1.
        I liked Gallant, but was it firing a coach prematurely or bringing in a coach to correct obvious deficiencies?
        Lastly, remember that correlation does not mean causation.

        • They sent Theodore and Tuch to the AHL so they could protect Griffin Reinhart. They claimed a goalie off waivers and said “he’s not ready to play in the NHL,” then made him play a few days later when Fleury got hurt. They lost 3 goalies due to injury and they did nothing while they had a 19-year-old as the backup.

          You can deny it all you want, but the plan the first year was not to win.

          • I agree Ken – the plan was not to win however, no one told the cast-off players and they had a chip on their shoulders and something to prove to themselves if no one else – that unfortunately is not the mind set of the current roaster. All you have to see is the intensity of yr 1 versus now. Maybe not as skilled????? but certainly more engaged. Watching the re-runs shows that so clearly it is scary which brings up the question just how far the current team will go. I hope they can raise the Cup but maybe yr 1 had a better chance when they got as far as they did. Given they lost to a team that had waited years to win they did exceptionally well. I question if big dollars is the answer to superior talent and winning unless you equate it to attitude which is questionable at best.

      • Mike StG

        You sound like a Sabres fan. An average team since Feb 2018? Let’s see, they went to the cup final in June 2018. After losing Nate the first quarter of last season and Stastny for half the year they finished 3rd and would have made it to 2nd round at least if not for ‘you know what’. They finished 1st this year and according to analytics have the best odds of winning the cup. Average? No, that would be FLA, CHI, MIN, NYR. Refused to play youngwe players? How old are Glass & Hague & Whitecloud & Roy? I guess the Stone deadline deal was forced and unwise as well? I respect your opinions Ken, but sometimes you go too far trying to justify unsustainable positions. I suppose the comment by Kelly that they acquired Lehner due to lacking confidence in Subban as a backup in case Fleury went down is also nonsense…

        • How in the world is this an unsustainable position? Look at the data I just presented.

          • Mike StG

            Maybe I said that wrong. You basically made several statements that were unsustainable in your response to Joannie. I understand your presentation of historical numbers, but in using them you’re basically saying Kelly is wrong with respect to the impact a high quality second goalie can make on a team’s cup chances. Teams that overpay for goalies at the expense of their skaters wouldn’t likely benefit much or at all. But Vegas has a very high quality group of Fs and a solid D corps (bound to get better w/prospects in AHL). That along with two #1 goalies by anyone’s estimation gives them a better chance at the cup. I think you undervalue goalies a lot, but they are the X factor in playoffs. For Vegas it’s more about balancing their current window (this year and next) of cup contention against what the team will look like in ‘21-22. If they don’t factor in both they’ll end up like ANA or SJS or CHI.

    • Tim

      Ken I’ve always said the two biggest mistakes were the Tatar deal first, second, and third and not resigning David Perron for 4 million 4 year. Erik B. for Stone good deal, Nick S for Patch good deal. Stephenson for a 5th great deal, Cousin wait and see deal. Alex Martinez I think will work out. Enough said about how well they did in the expansion draft. I think Krebs was a steal, the two Russians were a steal, Cody Glass still very young hope he works out. Jack Dugan and Lucas Evelans may be a steals a lot of the other prospects are iffy but overall I seem to like what they’ve accomplished more then you.

  2. Chris V.

    Wow, I can say this, “The off-season looks to be an interesting one as it relates to the goalie position for our Knights.” to add Fleury/Subban, Murray, Garon, Vokoun and Lehner tandems all average 9.54%(twice with Subban less Lehner) and 9.63% including Lehner. Given the Flowers record based on the data above, it would appear to indicate a 60/40 they win the cup. With two lost attempts at 8.53%(Subban Era) and two cup wins above 8.81% average and one cup win below 8.81% with the one no finals appearance with Vokoun at 11.76%. If you add all the data pulling in Lehner, I believe it to be at 9.63%+/-. Even though it is still above the 8.81% avg. It would not be a stretch to envision the Knights in the finals possibly wrapping up the deal in game 6 or 7 to bring to our great city its first NHL Stanley Cup.

  3. Doktor Hockey

    More of this goalie BS. It’s endless. Come ON!!!

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