Building the Ultimate NHL Roster


We’ve reached that point in summer when most general managers have completed the bulk of their summer activities and are just waiting for training camp to begin.  Sure, there could be a minor tweak here or there, but as July comes to a close, what you see is what you get.  Since it’s clear that general managers have a relatively easy job (August off?!?  Where do I sign up for that job?), we thought it’d be fun to take a crack at building the ultimate NHL roster.  Hey, if Mike Milbury and Jim Benning can hold down general manager positions for any period of time, clearly it can’t be that difficult to do, right?

The concept is pretty simple: using the $71,400,000 cap ceiling, build a roster of 20 (12 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies) that on paper, looks like it could win.  This is just a roster for this season and this season only, so no considersation was given to long-term projections.  And to make things more difficult, I did not use anyone still on their entry-level contract (so no Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, etc.) where the cap hits would be low.  So without further delay, the ultimate NHL roster:

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(All cap information is from and in paranthesis)

Forward Lines:

Defense Pairs:


Final payroll for the ultimate NHL roster: $70,437,000 total; $41,775,000 for forwards, $20,712,000 for defense, $7,950,000 in net.  We have just a shade under a million in cap space available to add or re-call a player as the season progresses.

The first thing that jumps out is “damn, that is a lot of fire power up front.”  The top line features the Art Ross Trophy winner (Benn) and the runner-up finisher (Tavares.)  Hossa is one of the game’s better two-way players and can help cover up for any mistakes the two big guns on the line may make in the defensive zone (and he isn’t exactly a slouch on the other side of the ice, picking up 61 points this past season.)  Seguin, who was in contention for the Art Ross before injury forced him out of the lineup for 11 games, anchors the second line.  A Tavares-Seguin one-two punch can rival any other center duo in the league.  Simmonds and Tatar bring affordable scoring on the second line and and force opponents to pick their poison when defending the top-six.

I tried to add a variety of elements on the bottom-six.  Kreider brings tremendous speed and the upside of a 30-goal scorer if he can put all his tools together.  Couturier is developing a reputation as a solid, two-way center, and is only scratching the surface on his offensive ability.  His 15 goals last season were a season-high.  As for Hayes, he is another big, solid, two-way forward with 20 goal potential.  Size-wise, the line averages out to nearly 215 pounds and 6’4″.  Good luck defending that.

The fourth line brings a little bit of nastiness (Kassian), some experience (Chimera), and an elite face-off guy (Gordon.)  In a salary-capped world, I was looking for fourth liners that fill a specific role, and I believe this group does the trick for my ultimate NHL roster.

The blue line is actually evenly split amongst right-handed and left-handed shots.  Seabrook and Hedman met in this past year’s Stanley Cup Finals, and with a combined cap hit of under $10 million, they instantly become the best defensive pairing in the game.  Shattenkirk and Barrie bring solid defensive play along with high-end offensive ability.  Barrie especially can kick-start the offense with his puck-moving capabilities.  The third pair or Alzner and Vatanen could easily play as most team’s second unit.  The defensive-minded Alzner and offensively-gifted Vatanen bring a balanced mix to a blue line that is championship quality on this ultimate NHL roster.

And then there is the man between the pipes: Carey Price.  The man won the Vezina and a Hart Trophy this season, so you can’t ask for anything more from your number one goalie.  He has the talent to carry a team to a title.  Backing him up is a career-backup in Talbot who proved capable of being able to win games as a team’s number one in a pinch.  With a strong defense in front of him, it’s fair to expect Talbot to repeat his 2014/15 season.

So there you have it: the utlimate NHL roster.  It’s so easy, even a low-level NHL blogger can do it.

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