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The Caps bought CapFriendly…So Now What?

Y’know I wanted to have a nice Sunday/Monday of waiting for the Firebirds’ opponent so I can get you up to speed on that but I guess I have actual NHL league stuff to talk about now.

Elliote Friedman of SportsNet announced pretty unceremoniously that the long-running NHL Salary Cap database/Armchair GMing tool would be purchased by the Washington Capitals, and that it would be shutting down in July as a result.

CapFriendly came into being in 2015 on the heels of Capgeek; the original Cap tracking website everyone liked, going defunct as result of Matthew Wuest’s tragic and short bout with Colon Cancer. Since it’s founding, CapFriendly has been a nearly ubiquitous part of any National Hockey League analysis, be it professional level or enthusiast. We here at DJLR have used it for plenty of articles in the past; as it’s helped keep the otherwise dizzying world of the NHL roster and how it’s paid for relatively simple and easy to read.

Wait, why did the Caps do that?

No idea. They have not made any public statements to the matter.

Alright, then do you have any theories?

Well, a couple.

One of the things that made CapFriendly so ubiquitous was not just it’s up-to-date database and it’s many fun toys you can use to mess around with a team’s roster, but it’s unofficial adoption by the NHL itself. The Sens, The Leafs and The Hurricanes were early adopters (to the point all three at individual points have been caught actively using it to conduct business) and it’s now known just about every team in the league had access to special functions that CapFriendly provided for them; as such it’s more than likely Seattle used some aspect of it as well.

As such, it’s a level of business-level gamesmanship to deny this service to the other 31 teams. I would imagine this is a temporary level of gamesmanship, as it gives these 31 other teams about a month’s worth of time to take some screenshots and then foist it off to some enterprising coder to set up for their own purposes. I can’t imagine it’ll be at the same quality as CapFriendly, but hey! The teams understand that it’s useful now.

On a significantly less petty level, I have to wonder if the Caps internal management of these kinds of things was lagging behind to the point they were ultimately completely dependent on CapFriendly, and finally someone just asked if they could hire the CapFriendly guy (whose worked in the NHL before) and have them work on it. Given that the Caps are transitioning towards a retool/rebuild, I think anyone who could help them maneuver this delicate time for them financially would be most appreciated.

That said, I expect the first thing to be the real reason this happened. They saw a public utility everyone they compete with was using, they gave a dude life-changing money to stop running it/do it for them and them alone, and now it’s on a timer to disappear.

Thanks, Ted.

Wait, the league doesn’t have something like this internally already!?

Nope! You’d think after several NHL teams got caught using CapFriendly and CapGeek throughout the years that they’d try to actually get on board with that and make it way, way, way easier on themselves by just reporting to a central authority that the league runs, but it appears either SAP, the official data collectors of the NHL, have not yet found a good way to present it to the league, or the NHL still doesn’t see the value in a service like this.

A service that all the teams in the league have used in some capacity.

Some of whom even rely on it, and are rumored to be internally panicking now that it could be gone.

It’s a very silly league.

So are we just SOL now that CapFriendly is gonna go lights-out?

Hardly. Which is why I think my initial theory might be only a temporary advantage.

For one thing, it has been confirmed by both CapFriendly and the Capitals that they will be keeping it open for the NHL Draft and for the first couple of days of Free Agency, so it won’t be a total loss. Further, while their UIs may not be perfect, there are plenty of similarly useful public tools that could, and probably will, take it’s place in the public sphere.

The currently anointed successor from the rest of the hockey universe is, which already has sponsorship and has committed to massively improving the service thanks to a lot of people suddenly becoming interested in what they have, and SpoTrac; a website with a mind-boggling amount of information on every sport’s contract information, not just hockey’s. There could also be a number of folks who’ve been looking for the opportunity to enter this space and never felt the need until now who could set up the next public Salary Cap reference website, and are now hard at work building code as we speak to put it into the universe!

Until then, while we will still reference CapFriendly, we’ll also likely begin to use PuckPedia a lot more. Their UI does take a minute to get used to, but I imagine, given the sheer panicked desperation interest in their work created by this purchase, they’ll try to find a way to make it a little more readable for the layman.

Final Thoughts

Dominik Zrim and Jamie Davis, the fellas who ran CapFriendly, are entirely within their rights to do this. It’s their thing, they can do what they want to it, and if they get “I don’t have to work anymore” money to stop running it or give it over to the Capitals, then good on them. It’s hard running a website of any variety. Doing all of the things CapFriendly did must’ve been a herculean effort, and having it all pay off in the end is the dream of anyone who works at a .com address post-bubble burst.

That said? Screw the Caps for doing this, man.

If it was the league who finally broke down and paid them to do this so they could tie it to their website, then maybe I would be striking a different tone. Instead, they either couldn’t find the right people to run this internally, or thought they could get a leg up on the rest of the league by zapping a public utility that’s keeping General Managers around the league honest, and keeping their performance tracked down to the dollar amount spent. It’s just such a pain that not only do we have to find another way to do such a thing or keep tabs on how the teams spend their money, but that we’ve had to do this with frankly alarming regularity.

You’d better have the best offseason of any team this summer, next summer, and the summer after that if you wanna make this purchase worth it to anyone other than a sensible chuckle at the rest of the league’s expense for a couple of months, Caps.

Anything less, and you blew up a public utility for nothing but pettiness.

A reminder on the Kraken’s Cap situation

For the offseason; with a little help thanks to the bump in Cap Space confirmed by the NHL, the Kraken have $22,526,666 in Cap Space.

They have three RFAs who need contracts: Matty Beniers (kind of a big one), Eeli Tolvanen, and Kailer Yamamoto, and need at least a scoring winger, a scoring center, and at least one depth defenseman or a Top 4 defenseman who can push another roster player down the list.

At least, that’s my estimate on what they need to do. I’ll just have to look through Puckpedia for their contract comparables now.

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