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Just Make a Trade? Penguins Among Many OVER the Cap

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NHL trade, Pittsburgh Penguins, Marcus Pettersson

Sure, the theory is sound, and it used to be a lot easier. When teams got too close to the salary cap or even went over in the offseason, there were always a few bottom feeders willing to take on a salary for a solid player, or accept a reasonable asset with the high-salary player. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Now, the NHL trade market is clogged, and for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a gaggle of other teams, it’s just not that easy anymore.

While NHL trade rumors run wild, let’s set the true stage.

The Penguins are one of 12 teams that are over the NHL salary cap or don’t have enough cap space to sign a minimum wage player.

Another five teams have less than $2 million in cap space. Another five teams have below $10 million in cap space, and only 18-20 players signed, meaning they need to add three to five more players with less than $10 million.

The combination of cap-strapped and cap-overage teams equals at least 22, which is two-thirds of the league.

So, just make a trade?

The National Hockey Now family is chasing a rumor that Nazem Kadri is waiting on a team, but that team cannot currently afford the expected price. The team is quietly trying to move a few salaries to make it all work. Naturally, all sides are super hush-hush because should word leak, that could kill the whole deal. We apologize in advance to that fanbase if we do break the story.

The teams with salary cap space know just how valuable it is. It’s not just $5 million. It’s Stanley Cup hopes for one team. It’s making the leap to contender status for another.

Those cap-flush teams aren’t selling their salary cap space. They are selling hope and ambition, which are far more valuable.

When he was asked in June what his team needed this summer, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall joked, “more cap space.”

It was funny because it’s true.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are more than $7 million over the cap.

The Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, and Edmonton Oilers are about $3 million over the cap.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, and Penguins are about $1.5 million over the cap.

(The Washington Capitals are more than $6 million over the cap, but Nick Backstrom and Tom Wilson will be placed on LTIR after offseason surgeries).

Unlike any offseason in recent memory, GMs are banking on finding a trade partner. More teams reside over the cap than any other summer, and when the music stops, a few teams may be left without a chair.

Yes, the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres are still millions under the salary cap floor and need to add players. Their cap space will be in high demand. Both Buffalo and Anaheim will be able to demand a ransom for any transaction. Their cap space is a rare and sought-after commodity, like water and gasoline on Fury Road, cigarettes in prison, or intelligence in politics.

From the cap floor, those teams can drive much harder bargains. They can pit teams against each other in a bidding war. Defenseman Marcus Pettersson is oft mentioned Penguins trade candidate. A team with cap space to burn can compare Pettersson to another available defenseman, then ask for additional assets.

The team most willing to part with an additional asset wins.

In days gone by, it was a second or third-round pick that would be attached to a player. Then it became a first-rounder.

Now?

The Carolina Hurricanes were able to snag Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for nothing. Carolina actually acquired a fairly paid, high-level top-line center for nothing because the Vegas Golden Knights were in a cap crunch.

Literally, Vegas couldn’t get a better offer for very good players than NOTHING.

Even noted horse trader Jim Rutherford and his protege Patrik Allvin are having a rough go in Vancouver. On the Bob McCown podcast, Rutherford said attempted wheeling and dealing on the NHL trade market have thus far fallen through.

So, what is a player like Jason Zucker or Pettersson worth? What is 35-year-old Florida Panthers fourth-liner Patric Hornqvist with a $5.3 million salary worth? Average 32-year-old Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyle Myers, who has a $6 million salary for a couple more years?

A better question is how much more would a team need to attach to those players? Or will the bottom teams simply demand better players to the exclusion of being paid to accept expendable players — like the league, and Carolina did to Vegas.

The resources across the league are scarce, but the difference in the summer of 2022 is the increased competition for those resources.

Just make a trade?

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 days ago

Wow, this article brings more into perspective. A buyout of bad contracts may be the only way out for some teams

The Cyclist
The Cyclist
9 days ago

Just sign some random injured player to be LTIRed and BOOM cap compliant.

Frank
Frank
9 days ago

All of that was right on target. Hextall may have to settle for restaurant coupons and a free car washes in exchange for players. So will a dozen other GM’s. I am crossing my fingers he has an ingenious plan for this. Otherwise a player will essentially be put on his front lawn with a sign that says “free to a good home.”

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
9 days ago

Makes the cave in for a 4th year for 71 look really stupid.

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

I hope Malkin proves all the haters wrong.

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
9 days ago

I hope he plays at least 50 games. I hope he learns to play defense. I hope he isnt -20 (He was -10 playing half a season).

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

He was recovering from MAJOR knee surgery. Give him a break. It took Crosby several seasons to recover from his neck surgery.

Phil
Phil
9 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

The Cap or trade landscape wont be the same in 4 years. Plus his cap number is not going to hurt the team. He deserves to retire a pen.

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
9 days ago
Reply to  Phil

He would have retired a Pen with 3 year deal. 4th year just stupid. 2nd and 3rd year highly questionable. I would love if he could be + again 5v5.

Phil
Phil
9 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Not if he was asking for a 4 year deal. Than why would he retire in 3?? When not injured he still plays great. He played great in the playoffs. The stats say hes been really good when not injured. And I dont care for plus and minus stats. Its a terribly flawed stat that has nothing to do with player performance! And your entitled to your opinion. But in 4 years it wont matter. The salary cap is going up. The cap hit wont be a big deal and it’s not a big deal now. So it doesn’t matter.… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Phil
Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
8 days ago
Reply to  Phil

Nothing to do with performance? LOL
Yeah when you are on the ice and the other team scores more than your team that is kinda important. Every hockey coach and player knows that.
The cap hit is not a big deal?
Why do you think we have a terrible bottom 6?
I wish 71 could score 100 points. But I live in the real world.

Phil
Phil
8 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Yeah so do I played hockey all my life. Plus minus is a flawed statistic that blames 1 player when 5 are on the ice in most cases doesnt account for how good the defense is or goalie in net. Sorry but again plus minus does not adequately evaluate players performance!!!

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
8 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

6.1 mil for a point per game player isn’t a huge hit at all. Most players who produce like that are making more than 8 mil per season. Unless his production goes way down, the 4 year deal is not going to be an issue. Quit over reacting over things that could possibly happen in the future. Fact is they weren’t going to find a cheaper point per game center via trade or the free agent market.

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
8 days ago
Reply to  Phil

+- has nothing to do with a players performance?
Yes, when you are on the ice and the other team scores more than your team that is a clue and that us why it is tracked by every hockey coach.
The cap is no big deal? It is why our 3rd and 4th lines are sub par.

Phil
Phil
8 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Every teams 3rd and 4th lines are full of subpar players. Young guys or guys that are hustle players. In a salary cap league that’s almost every team! are you serious? That’s the funniest thing I’ve read. Did you not read the article every team has cap issues meaning everyone has depth issues. We have resigned our top 6 at a great value. Everyone is making less than they could have made. Rust 5.1aav Crosby has been making less for years 8.7 aav guentzel 6aav. Malkin 6aav. Rakell 6 aav zucker makes more but he has one year left on… Read more »

Phil
Phil
8 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Sorry hockey players and coaches hate plus minus. It’s an inadequate statistic. Its flawed and doesn’t accurately evaluate players performance. To many variables to base players performance strictly on plus minus. Any goal against should not be blamed on just 1 player is ludicrous statistic. Doesnt mean cause a player is on the bench when a goal goes in he is better than the “players” plural on the ice. Again to many variables to base performance on that horribly flawed statistic.

Last edited 8 days ago by Phil
Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
8 days ago
Reply to  Phil

You are just wrong. Stay minus and slide down the lines until you ride the pine. In 10 game plus minus can be skewed by bad luck. Over a season it tells a much clearer story. If you think coaches dont track it you are just wrong.

Phil
Phil
8 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Am I ? lol I know I’m 100% right. Here’s one of my biggest problems with plus minus. The amount of control an individual player has over their plus minus is tiny. Players make mistakes all the time they can also excel at times. All to often goals are scored and a player had nothing to do with it! So it clear plus minus is variable outside of a players control! Those are facts! It also doesn’t take goalie skill into account. Say a great player was on one of the worst teams in the league. Roman josi was on… Read more »

Paul
Paul
9 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Ding-ding-ding-ding!

Crazyhorse87
Crazyhorse87
9 days ago

That is really tough, it sure sounds like a package would seem like the only route for some teams, which means you may have to give up what you don’t want to in order to get rid what you have to. It’s time to put on your thinking cap to balance out your team to as close as you can on forward & defense. Some teams may have to buyout the way things look bad in the league combined.

jsarnoldlaw@gmail.com
jsarnoldlaw@gmail.com
9 days ago

Rutherford liked Zucker and Petterson soooooo much. Maybe he’ll take them off the Pens’ hands at his new home?

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
9 days ago

The article said the Canucks are also over the cap, so how exactly would taking on 2 more salaries work for them?

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Penguinfan
Penguinfan
8 days ago

I’m not worried too much about the cap situation. They have 2 months. Sure, I hope a trade vs another buy-out happens but we know they’ll figure it out. Waiving a player could work, I’d hope it is the last resort.
Let’s Go Pens

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