How far does a dollar go in the new NHL?

When you can spend to the upper limit of the salary cap, you can push the envelope.

That's what I did in putting together my $44 million team in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine. I was able to get Ducky with my defense, choosing Anaheim blue-line aces Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Those two earn a combined salary of $13 million. That's nearly 30 percent of my entire payroll on two players. Just like Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, I believe those players were well worth it.

The good folks at ESPN.com wanted to see what I would do with a little less cash. With the top half of the salary cap set to rise to around that $44 million mark, the minimum will increase to about $28 million and the mid-range level will be approximately $36 million. So, I put together two more 22-man rosters. For one team, I could spend $36 million; the last team, $28.5 million.

With fewer dollars, I had to make some serious choices. There were some players that I could afford to have on all three teams, but I had to forget about having that Niedermayer-Pronger duo on my blue line. With less cash, I had to look for value in my selections.

I still think I have two pretty competitive teams. You be the judge.