"At least we made it out before the season started"
(photo courtesy of thehockeywriters.com)
You know how the lockout came and went, stealing all the juicy trades away from us rabid hockey fans? Well I’ve got some good news for you….
The salary cap floor is a massive headache for certain GM’s (like Dale Tallon) who have over paid several players just to get to within striking distance of the cap floor. Now, these GM’s are not only going to be panicking to hit their cap floor target by the season’s first puck drop but they’ll also just be fitting inside the sliding cap scale.
Me: So do you know what this means??
You: Ummm, can you say that in English please Kavi?
What I’m saying is the NHL has been devoid of significant trades since the 2005-06
season, aka the first year in the Salary Cap era. I also believe this year will bring us the return of the frenzy which was once known as the NHL trading deadline.
You see, there are currently 18 of 30 NHL teams that have committed salaries of $58 million or LESS. That’s an extremely high number of teams with loads of moolah to dish out over the remainder of the season. Yes, several players will be signed over the next 2 months, but none of those players are bank-busters. They’re fringe guys who move and shake around the league every season. You know who they are. So in the end it would be more than reasonable to assume that all 18 of the aforementioned teams will have AT LEAST $10 million left to spend in Cap space. The teams who are stuck against the Cap are, in a way, handicapping themselves from adding a big gun of value to their line ups by the deadline. So those 12 higher salary teams must be assuming that a playoff spot is imminent…..but that’s not always the case. Of the 12 teams “pressed up against the cap” there are guaranteed to be a handful that won’t make the playoffs, that’s just how it’s always been. These are the teams that will help even out the flow of money in the NHL.
Now here are some things to watch before the action picks up. Look for higher end, higher salary players to be moved off underachieving hockey teams. These are players that either have a high Cap number, are pending RFA’s, or both. We don’t know who those players are just yet, but once the standings begin to finalize a little bit by February, some of these players will be game for the right taker. But in order to make a deal, you must have some chips to barter with. And this is where the Canucks jump into the picture.
I think it’s safe to say that the Canucks lacked durability, grit, and balanced scoring from their top 6 in their playoff drive from last season. Luckily for us Canuck fans Mike Gillis has stock-piled those chips I mentioned above, with the likes of a crowded group of middle 6 forwards (#s 4 through 9). Guys like Sturm, Higgins, Lapierre, Raymond, Samuelsson, Hansen, and Malhotra. Though they each bring their own skill sets to the table, I don’t think they’ve made this group better than they were last year. For this reason, I believe the Canucks will be on the hunt for a bonafide top 6 forward to play with Ryan Kesler. If you trade with a Cap Pressed team, you need to give them some lower salary guys back. And the longer you wait to make the deal, the cheaper the cost of a player.
I don’t know who’s going to get traded, where they’ll go, and when they’ll move but I have a suspicion that this year, we’ll all be treated to nibble on some tasty deadline nosh again…..finally.