CBA Brings Changes to Trade Deadline/UFA....Blues Contract Decisions Looming
We may only be 20 games into the season but the NHL trade deadline is just over a month away.
April third will be here before you know it and the speculation, along with some activity, will be swirling.
With a new CBA brings some changes.
With the NHL salary cap going down next season several teams will need to re-shuffle the deck to make sure they comply with league rules.
Tagging Rule in Effect March First….
Beginning March 1st NHL teams will be allowed to spend up to 10% above next year’s $64.3 million cap ceiling. Typically the tagging rule doesn’t come into play until after the NHL season which means we could see a few changes as a result.
In the past this prevented “Cap Teams” from signing players to contract extensions until the tagging period opened up after the season. Teams will now be in position to go 10% above next year’s ceiling at an earlier date. Obviously they’ll have to eventually come down and get their payroll in order before the beginning of next year.
This will help a number of teams including Chicago, Rangers, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, San Jose, Philadelphia, Vancouver, and Calgary.
For those who get exhausted watching the July 1st free agency coverage things will be even more chaotic this summer. Beginning with the new CBA, NHL teams are permitted to wine, dine, and entertain unrestricted free agents no less than five days, and no more than a week before the unrestricted free agency period begins.
Because of the lockout the NHL UFA doesn’t begin until July 5th but the negotiation period will have already started.
The summer of 2014 we move back to our usual July 1st date with the talking period beginning after the NHL entry draft.
In the past any talks before July 1st would have been considered tampering so this certainly changes things. This should improve free agency and eliminate one or two players from holding up or freezing the market. We saw this last year with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter who didn’t sign until July 4th. Now there should be plenty of time for players and teams to agree on a contract so that they’re ready to sign once the free agency period begins.
Let’s not act like teams weren’t talking to agents and/or players before July first in the past.
If you have $100 million sitting on the table to sign a specific player it’s hard to conduct other business. How do you move on and spend money elsewhere when player A still hasn’t signed?
This will be different and certainly more exciting for fans. We see this in other sports with guys like Lebron James and Peyton Manning taking their free agency tours.
Now Corey Perry and/or Ryan Getzlaf can have their moment in the sun, at least in Canada.
I’ve never thought it was a good idea to have NHL free agency overlap with one of the biggest American holidays on the calendar. Once we get to July 4th NHL fans focus their attention away from NHL free agents.
In Canada July 1st seems to be celebrated more than Christmas. I know July 1st is a Canadian holiday but NHL free agency takes precedence.
Some NHL Execs have suggested free agency be moved back until after the MLB All-Star break.
Speaking of Perry and Getzlaf…
It won’t be easy for Anaheim to move either of these players if they believe they’re in position to compete for a Stanley Cup.
Last year the 8th seed went all the way so anyone should feel confident they can go on a run.
You’re not going to get the same value at the NHL draft. High priced free agents are unlikely to sign this close to free agency.
Take Back Money…
Right now you can look at teams like Washington, Florida, Columbus, and Winnipeg as defined sellers.
Winnipeg can probably still move a Ron Hainsey, Kyle Wellwood, or a Nik Antropov without really hurting their chances.
With teams allowed to take back a maximum of 50% of a player’s salary it will allow them to beat the cap. This is especially the case for bigger teams who have players signed to frontloaded deals.
A budget team may be more interested in a big contract if the frontloaded years have already been paid. This allows the team to take on the cap hit if they need help getting to the floor, but accept less in actual salary.
This 50% is a fixed rate on the balance remaining on the deal. This will also help those teams with tagging issues add a player at the deadline.
The Blues have a number of high profile free agents after this season. I’ve already reported Patrik Berglund and the team will likely wait until after the season to negotiate an extension.
The same can probably be said for Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattnekirk. The Blues also have Chris Stewart, Kris Russell, Andy McDonald, and Matt D’Agostini among others whose deals expire after this year. The Blues might open up some talks with one or two of these guys before the deadline to get an idea of what number it might take to get them re-signed. This would include guys like Stewart, McDonald and D’Agostini. This could impact whether or not the team decides to move them at the deadline. Then again, as I mentioned above with Anaheim, the Blues fully believe they have a chance to compete for a Cup and they’ll want to enter the playoffs fully loaded.
Whenever you have this many contracts expiring there’s always the danger of it becoming a distraction if the team elects to sign one or two of them during the season. You don’t want others looking around the dressing room asking “what about me?”
The best option might just be to wait until after the season and allow the players to focus on playing hockey.
Pronger Visits Blues...
Future Hall of Famer stopped by the Blues practice facility on Monday to help promote a charity he's involved with. Pronger is still dealing with concussion related symptoms and is unlikely to play this season. In the meantime he's living in St. Louis where's he and his wife Lauren are raising their three kids.
One can only hope the Blues eventually retire his jersey and put a statue of the big boy outside of the Scottrade Center next to the other Hall of Famers. He's the only player in Blues history to win the Norris and the Hart trophy in the same year. He's arguably the most dominating D-man of his era and spent the majority of his career in a Blues uniform.
More to come,
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