Thursday, March 05, 2009

Calling Shenanigans

The NHL Trade Deadline was yesterday, with a bit of activity occurring. The most confusing trade of the day occurred when the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Richard Petiot to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Olaf Kolzig, Jamie Heward, Andy Rogers and a fourth round draft pick.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal. But Petiot is toiling in the AHL, and is not considered to be an impact prospect. So why is he worth a 4th round pick, let alone the additional players that were included? Money.

The trade moves the Lightning under the salary midpoint, which gives them access to more revenue sharing funds. So the Leafs end up with a fourth round pick in exchange for being an enabler of the Lightning's plan.

Both James Mirtle and Tyler Dellow are on the case, but I think both are missing the key story of the trade.

It's not that Brian Burke has taken on $400,000-$600,000 in extra salary in order to get a fourth round draft pick. This has happened in the NHL before (the Upshall/Carcillo deal, for example. The New Jersey Malakhov deal for another.) The NBA sees these sorts of deals, in an even more obvious manner.

The key is that these deals are normally done because one team is either over the salary cap, or so close to the salary cap that they would not be able to make any other moves. It's a strategic move, where a team has no leverage, but tries to create some flexibility. In this case though, the Lightning are trying to get under the salary midpoint so they can take more money from the league. It's not a strategic move which could lead to an improvement to the team. That's what the league needs to be looking at, not just the practice of moving players to clear cap space.

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