Ask any GM what the biggest obstacle to trading a player is these days and he’ll invariably talk about economics. In the salary-capped NHL, it’s almost impossible to trade big money contracts.
Which is another way of saying Martin Gerber might want to start scoping out the best places to eat in Binghamton because he’ll probably be there until the spring.
(Of course, this is the Ottawa Senators we’re talking about. The way things are going there, Brian Elliott is probably one bad goal away from a ticket back there himself.)
With Gerber’s current cap hit at $3.7 million, he is virtually untradeable for the Senators. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the Senators could find a team looking for some goaltending depth for the last two months of the season. Any team wanting to trade for Gerber would owe him $1.4 million for the remainder of the season if it made a deal Feb. 1.
And there’s absolutely no way any team is going to commit that kind of cap space to Gerber. But what if the Senators were willing to pick up half - or more - of the remainder of the contract? Then Gerber might be a more viable option.
The only problem is that isn’t allowed under this collective bargaining agreement. GMs have long lobbied for this provision to be changed, but haven’t had any success. The NHL doesn’t want to have what is known as a lot of “dead money” floating around.
Which is a little puzzling. The purpose of a salary cap is to keep costs fixed and prevent teams from overspending, right? Well, trade money would go against the team’s salary cap, so what’s the difference? The player is still being paid and teams are no longer restricted by onerous contracts.
Allowing teams to pick up portions of a player’s contract in trades would undoubtedly stimulate what has become a rather stagnant trade market. Trades are fun and interesting and keep people engaged. Why wouldn’t the league want to capitalize on that?
SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALL RIGHT FOR NOTHING
The Toronto Maple Leafs at home on Saturday night – they go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga dong, or at the very least shoo-bop sha wada wada yippety boom de boom.
But not this season, or at least not lately. From Dec. 13 through Feb. 7, the Maple Leafs will have gone through a stretch of playing just two Saturday night games at home in nine weeks. Four of those nights, they don’t play on the road either.
In fact, of 27 Saturday nights this season, the Leafs play at home for only 16 of them. They’ll probably get jobbed out of the Saturday night playoff dates too, on account of they won’t be in the playoffs.
The first night of games in the Ontario League after the new fighting rules were introduced - a game misconduct and suspension for removing helmets - took place Thursday. There were two fights in the Sudbury-Barrie game and no players were penalized for removing helmets.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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