Sports Outside the Beltway

Tweaking the NHL Salary Cap

The owners wanted a cap and after losing an entire season they got it. Included in the new CBA were rules to allow a shorter path to free agency and a two-way waiver system to prevent teams from stockpiling players in the minors. Not all of these moves are for the good, shortly Pittsburgh will be face with having to decide which of its young stars to part with after years in the toilet, they stockpiled talent with high draft picks and now have a small window to utilize it. Now the salary cap has created some so called “parity” in the league but has severely limited the ability of teams to tweak their roster before the trade deadline to make a run at the Stanley Cup. Team who are on the verge of making the playoff are generally spending near the cap limit, which prohibit them from trading prospects and picks for a proven veteran player because they cannot absorb the cap hit. Well than I came across this op-ed that provides a reasonable solution, the trading of cap space:

A better solution would be a floating cap, whereby teams have the flexibility to “trade” salary cap space. A team like the [Florida] Panthers could essentially take on a significant portion of [Todd] Bertuzzi’s salary in order to maximize his trade value, thereby increasing the likelihood that they’d be in a much better position to compete in 2007-08 and beyond. While this system isn’t perfect, as long as the money to pay Bertuzzi actually comes out of the Panthers’ pockets, it’s unlikely to be a scenario they’d repeat season after season.

To prevent the salary system from becoming a complete quagmire, salary cap space — or the absorbing of a player’s salary on behalf of another team — would only be allowed for the current system. So, for example, if the Phoenix Coyotes were to want to trade Ed Jovanovski and his five-year, $32.5 million contract, they could only absorb salary for 2006-07, leaving the Coyotes’ trade partner fully responsible for the remaining four years and $26 million.

It comes across as a completely reasonable idea, it will allow teams who know they are in a rebuilding phase to shed large contracts and older players and in return get picks and prospects to build their team up. It’s a solution that would deserve a shot to be tried out and maybe applied to other sports involving caps if it works (because getting rid of salary caps isn’t going to happen).

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