VAN’s Keith Ballard is on conventional waivers. Not $100 unconditional waivers, which is necessary for buyout purposes.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2013
With the Canucks deciding not to trade Alex Edler on Sunday before the Swedish blue-liners no-trade clause kicked in, it’s pretty clear that the inglorious Keith Ballard era in Vancouver is at an end. The Canucks placed the talented, frustrating, over-priced seventh defenceman on waivers today; and not the unconditional variety of waivers, which a player must clear before a team can excercise a "compliance buyout" on that players contract…
It would be a Miracle on Ice level upset if Keith Ballard were claimed by an NHL team on waivers for the full price of his deal. After all anyone who visits capgeek.com/canucks and sees that the club has seven players to sign, and a hair more than four million in cap-space, can figure out that one way or another the math doesn’t make sense in Vancouver unless the Canucks can get rid of Ballard’s deal. Or is there a way to make the math make sense?
Read past the jump for more.
Generally speaking teams aren’t lining up to claim an inconsistent player due 8.4 million over two years. Jussi Jokinen, for example, cleared waivers ahead of the trade deadline despite being more useful than Ballard, and due significantly less. While Ballard’s price tag and unsteady performance since 2010 would be enough to make it probable that no team would claim him on waivers, Vancouver’s salary cap situation makes that probability a veritable certainty.
After all, teams know that on Friday they’ll probably be able to negotiate their own more affordable contract with the underachieving Minnesota born defender…
Put simply, Vancouver’s salary cap situation is very nearly unworkable if Keith Ballard remains on the roster at his full hit.
To illustrate this I’ll refer you an excellent post the Canuck Way put together today wherein they listed every player eligible to recieve a qualifying offer from the Canucks by tomorrow, and the amount that each players qualifying offer will have to be.
Well if the team was able to grind down Chris Tanev and all of their other pending RFAs and make them accept their one year qualifying offers (which won’t happen) and were willing to rely on Darren Archibald and Bill Sweatt in the bottom-six (which they probably won’t be), then they could technically fit Kellan Lain, Jordan Schroeder, Archibald, Sweatt, Tanev and Joslin under the upper limit while retaining Keith Ballard (total cap hits of those six players: $3,969,125 million). Of course even that leaves the team a backup goalie short of a twenty-three man roster…
I suppose the Canucks could technically make it work if they found a taker for David Booth (something I’d be amazed by considering Booth’s current injury status and recent injury history), or more likely Jannik Hansen, but that shouldn’t be a realistic option from a pure hockey operations standpoint. Or from a business standpoint either, considering how successful the Canucks organization has been the past decade.
There’s one other option, I suppose, for how the Canucks might proceed. This is a stretch but, it’s possible that Keith Ballard could be loaned to a professional club outside of North America. We might mention that he’d need to clear waivers before doing so (as Christobal Huet did shortly after the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup victory).
Under the new collective bargaining agreement you can’t really bury cap-hits in the same way that you could when the Blackhawks did so with Huet, but there are still some savings to be incurred. Consider Article 50(B)(6) of the 2013 NHL collective bargaining agreement:
For any Player on a One-Way NHL SPC who is Loaned to a club in another professional league, the Averaged Amount of such SPC less the sum of the Minimum Paragraph 1 NHL Salary and $375,000 for that League Year (e.g., $900,000 in 2012-13) for the period during which such Player is Loaned to such professional league; plus.
The league minimum salary next season will be $550,000 so a Ballard loan would net the Canucks an additional $925k in salary cap-space. That additional space (on top of the four million and fifty thousand in space the team currently has available) would allow the Canucks to fill out a twenty-three man roster in a very specific way.
For example they’d have to have Eddie Lack on the roster as a backup instead of the slightly more expensive Joacim Eriksson. The club would then require Joslin, Schroeder, Tanev to accept their one year qualifying offers. Then the Canucks would have enough space to fill out the roster with three league minimum veterans. The team would be undermanned of course, and have no ability to maneuver in midseason short of a timely LTIR injury, but in theory it’s doable.
Doable and realistic are two different concepts though, and the only realistic options for Keith Ballard remain a retained salary transaction or a compliance buyout.
Primary assist to @CamCharron for his CBA help.