Trade deadline day has come and gone, and we are all left wanting just a little bit more. However, as a fan of the Leafs and the Predators, I was content with the “Less is More” mantra that seemed to be followed by both teams. The Maple Leafs pulled off only one deal, for Tomas Plekanec to come in as their fourth line centre the day before the deadline. They paid a premium (a second-round pick) because Montreal is retaining half of his salary – such is life in the cap world. Nashville on the other hand, picked up young forward Ryan Hartman, signed Mike Fisher out of retirement, and moved around some AHL depth. The Predators paid a premium of futures for Hartman, the former Blackhawk, as he is under team control until his age-27 season (he is currently 23). The getting players with multiple years of control is a big focus of GM David Poile, and it is paying off both now and with the future outlook.
Anyways, I could ramble on about those two teams all day. Unfortunately, we only have an article, so let’s get to the other moves.
The Penguins Re-Sign Patrick Hornqvist
Steve Laidlaw did a great job of summing up his thoughts on the Hornqvist signing in Tuesday’s ramblings. I agreed with just about all he had to say, but there are a few key points to really drive home for Hornqvist owners (or shoppers). At the age of 31, Hornqvist’s best years are behind him, but his largest price tag is upon us. The contract prediction model had the Pittsburgh winger projected for five years with an AAV of $4.8 million. This shows that the term and price were necessary evils for the Penguins if they wanted to keep him around. However, just because they paid market value, doesn’t mean they are getting contract value.
Verdict: Solid contract for another season or two, becoming an anchor in years three through five.
The Olympians Make Some Dough
A few recent Olympian competitors signed one-year deals with NHL teams after good showings in Peyongchang.
Chris Kelly – $1,250,000
Cody Goloubef – $650,000
Brian Gionta – $700,000
None of these players are breaking the bank, and none will likely be fantasy relevant. Really these are just depth injury replacements for playoff-bound teams. I won’t recommend any of these players for your standard fantasy squad, but the new Bruin, Brian Gionta, is likely the one with the most upside here. This is looking even more possible with Boston’s first line centre, Patrice Bergeron, currently out for a minimum of two weeks with a broken bone in his foot. The Bruins’ second line centre, David Krejci, also seems to see more than his fair share of injuries.
Verdict: Irrelevant fantasy-wise, but a feel-good story nonetheless.
The Price of Cap Space
Some of the bigger names this deadline season were moved to teams who couldn’t take on the full salary. Retained salary transactions are becoming more of the norm, as teams try to add bigger pieces than they would otherwise be able to fit. Looking at trades from this year, involving Rick Nash, Tomas Plekanec, Paul Stastny and Derick Brassard, the going rate of retaining half of a player’s salary seems to be about a second-round pick. As mentioned above, this is why the Leafs gave up their second-round pick for Plekanec, and why St. Louis received Erik Foley and a fourth-round pick on top of a first for Stastny.
Knowing how much your cap space is worth is a large part in successfully wheeling and dealing in a salary cap league. All too often, managers are taken advantage of simply because they don’t understand how to balance player value and cap space. As a result, the trades end up being one of two things: a cap dump, or an even player value trade with neutral cap hits going both ways. Knowing how to put those two elements together is the difference between contending year-after-year, and being a fringe team in salary cap leagues. The best way to break these kinds of things down is to evaluate a trade in little pieces. If all of the little pieces add up, great. If not, then it’s time to re-jig the deal.
For example, let’s walk through Vegas’ role in the three-team trade from last Friday with Ottawa and Pittsburgh.
2018 4th round pick
40% of Brassard’s salary ($3,000,000) for this year and next.
Vegas really didn’t give up much here. Tobias Lindberg has been moved around in a handful of trades over the last few years, always as a bit of a throw in. His value is negligible relative to the other pieces we are discussing in this case.
Coming in, Brassard’s $3 million price tag is balanced by Ryan Reaves and a fourth-round pick. If we assume the 2nd round pick price tag being consistent here for retaining Brassard’s salary, then your evaluation of whether Vegas did well or poorly in this trade comes down to whether or not Reaves covers the difference between a second-round pick and a fourth. We’ll leave that up for debate in the comments.
In general, it seems as though it is close to a fair deal for Vegas. However, if they meet Pittsburgh in the finals, maybe Brassard will be saying otherwise.
Verdict: The Knights were creative in using up cap space that was sitting dead anyways, so we’ll call it a win for them even though they didn’t necessarily get full value for it.
That caps off another Thursday. Let me know if there are any other topics you would like to see covered before the regular season wraps up next month.
If you can’t get your fill on Thursdays, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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