Interesting To Watch Burke Towards 2010/11

If you haven’t already read it, get ready, it’s going to be everywhere. You will hear that the NHL salary cap will not go down next season, as for the season after, all bets are off. Remember that the Cap is based on the previous years’ hockey revenue. Given that much of the hockey type revenues for this year are already accounted for, next year’s cap is pretty safe. Next year when sponsorships are expected to shrink, along with ticket sales and luxury suites, the size of the pie to split up for the following season (2010/11) is going to shrink dramatically. So while Cliff did a nice job hacking and cutting the payroll and salary commitments for both now and tomorrow, the pressure is really going to be on Burke to act accordingly so that his team isn’t prevented from doing the things he wants at the time this franchise should be righted. In simple terms, you don’t Burke’s hands to be tied be salaries and contracts that aren’t movable nor desirable internally. Assuming Sundin signs elsewhere this season, we could be looking at multiple seasons where the Buds are significantly below the ceiling. Also Burke’s ability to pedal players this year and next off-season could be dramatically hindered by the almight dollar and teams’ need for cap precious cap space.

Going into 2010-2011, as the leafs sit right now , they are in pretty good shape. 5 committed contracts carrying a cap hit in total of $18,725,000. Jason Blake($4,000,000) and Niklas Hagman($3,000,000) are the only 2 forwards with contracts in that season. On the blueline, Tomas Kaberle($4,250,000), Jeff Finger($3,500,000) and Luke Schenn(2,975,000) are the only players with contracts. The Buds will still be on the hook for Darcy Tuker’s salary at the time, taking a cap hit of $1,000,000. Of all those players (Tucker excluded) I am only comfortable that Schenn will still be here. Hagman’s no trade clause expires after this year and there is no guarantee that come next deadline he couldn’t be a valuable trading asset. Despite a few good games, I am not convinced that Jason Blake will be here by then. Be it the minor’s or re-callable waivers, I am comfortable that he won’t be here. On D, I don’t have to get into Tomas Kaberle as his story has been well documented this past week. The jury is out on Finger. I wouldn’t be stunned if her was still around in 10/11, nor would I be stunned if he were elsewhere.

So, as the NBA sits back and waits on 2010 does the NHL too? How much does this effect what Burke wants to do. At some point down the road, Mats Sundin needs to be replaced. A franchise player is going to have to be acquired. Ideally this will happen in the draft. More likely, this player will come via trade/free agency. As the calendar progresses from year to year the age limits on free agency seems to get lower and lower, which should have resulted in more and more free agents. Instead, thankfully, I think for the leafs, teams have been locking up their younger players to long term deals at big money. How is that to the Leafs advantage? Well, if the cap goes down, teams are going to have to look to trim payroll. The value of cap space at that time will be at an all time premium. The less payroll a team has tied up, the more flexibility they will have. It really is that simple.

Tampa Bay, for example has 34,502,273 already tied up in salary in that year in 9 guys. The New York Ranger’s have 34,782,143 tied up in 7 guys…ouch! The Ottawa Senators have 30,526,496 tied up in 7 players and 1 buyout (emerson). The Flyers have 42,145,833 tied up in 10 guys. Burke is in good shape compared to some of his compadres. Does this guarantee success? Of course not. What it should mean is that if Burke is smart at the time he wants to add those extra pieces to get to or over the top, the could very well be pretty affordable.

These are interesting times indeed. I am interested to see how this plays out. I doubt that the Jeff Finger’s of the world will realize the huge dollars that they saw this past summer when free agency opens up this summer. That is not to say there won’t be a lot of movement. I think the top guys will get their money. Maybe not at the pace as in years past, but the big dogs will eat.

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December 11, 2008 10:47 am

Surprising how he can write in the abstract while we all know what he would say if Burke actually did what he (Cox) suggested.

December 10, 2008 4:47 pm
Reply to  Chemmy

Thanks Tex. I didn’t get a chance to comment yet but I found Cox’s article this morning soooo interesting. Here is calling on Burke to pick up Vets (to acquire draft picks). I am pretty sure that is the sucking and blowing he referred to about Cliff. I will try to post tonight on it.

December 10, 2008 4:34 pm

I think its a really interesting issue, TSM. I was going to do a whole post on it myself over at The Passion, but then I read yours – so I’ll just comment here.

I think the Pens (among others) are prime candidates to get screwed. They have some young guns coming up for extension in the next 2 years, and if those guys sign big, long-term deals (like sid, richards, ovie, vinny, etc), and the cap goes down… teams like the Leafs (assuming we accumulate picks and don’t go wild trading and signing guys in the next year) could be in the perfect position to swoop in and make a deal for certain players that those teams no longer have space for under the cap.

It would require discipline over the next few years – as well as a TON of good fortune – but it could happen.

The Meatriarchy
December 10, 2008 1:48 pm

One thing I think we forget about the cap is that if you don’t spend to the cap it doesn’t carry over.

If you are 10 million under this year you don’t have an extra 10 mill to spend next year. You either use it or lose it.

So ultimately all that staying under the cap does is save the owners money. You could make a case for being close to the cap every year as long as you are not locked into long term/unmovable contracts

I would bet Burke will leverage this with some teams who have cap trouble and will grab some assets on short term contracts if he can.

The Meatriarchy
December 11, 2008 8:22 am

Cox should stop reading my comments and then stretching them into bogus columns.

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