The Contrarian – Out of Jail

Thomas Drance


David Clarkson Jail

The Contrarian on the David Clarkson trade.

This week I take a look at the trade that occurred between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs. This deal involved David Clarkson going to Columbus and in return having Nathan Horton shipped to Toronto.


The two teams got something they both wanted. For Columbus, a player who can contribute. For Toronto, salary cap relief. A Win-win situation for both but in two articles we are led to believe that the Leafs have somehow used their mighty market powers to make it happen.


Both the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle (column titled "Mirtle: Clarkson trade a tale of NHL's have and have nots") and TSN's Scott Cullen ("Leafs flex financial muscle in Clarkson trade") make that assertion. Cullen sums it up nicely when he says, "The Toronto Maple Leafs pulled a magic act, though it wasn't quite so mysterious. They used their financial muscle to make a move that made David Clarkson's contract disappear from their salary cap." 


Toronto, within the rules of the NHL salary cap system, can spend more than some other teams, whereas Columbus cannot. That is fact and unlikely to ever change. Again from Cullen's article, "Where this deal works for the Maple Leafs is that they know they can, if necessary, keep Horton on long-term injured reserve for the duration of his contract. He will have to be paid, but the money won’t count against the cap, so Toronto used its owners’ deep pockets to get out from under their salary cap obligation on Clarkson." Mirtle has a similar thought "The Leafs face no such barriers. In fact, the best possible outcome for The Clarkson Problem prior to this deal would have been for Clarkson to end up on LTIR with an injury." He also adds, "This is a get out of jail free card for a horrendous mistake on a horrendous contract."


We are led to believe that it is like that fantasy owner who has no chance of winning so they trade decent, healthy players for injured, better than average ones from owners who have a chance at winning this season.  That is not what occurred here though.