The Value Of Cap Space, The Cost of Trading It

As promised, the first of several stories appeared today about the value of cap space as we edge towards 2010-2011. Damien Cox wrote about it in today’s Star. Instead of moving through his album, we can move right to the end to begin:

“The Leafs, you see, could stand to take on a veteran player with an oversized contract if the other team was willing to throw in a second- or third-round pick in the deal. In effect, then, the Leafs trade their cap room for a future draft pick. Everybody wins.That’s the ammunition Burke has, and he plans to use it. The trick, however, will be doing so in such a way as to not improve the club with veterans to such a degree that a top-five draft pick next June disappears in the process.”

What a strange situation indeed. The suggestion is that the Leafs should take veteran players from another team on 2 conditions, one that the veteran player comes with a draft pick(s) and secondly that the player has to suck; or suck enough as to not improve the team. So this poses a few questions. First, whom are the leafs trading in exchange for the pick(s) and bad (enough) player? Assume for a second that the Leafs aren’t going to trade Luke Schenn. Who will these other teams be willing to take back? Before you say Jason Blake, in a we take your “crap” you take our “crap” deal, remember that the teams Cox wants to trade with want to save money, not take it on. So, who can Burke trade, because when you take on a veteran and a draft pick(s), you usually send picks or future considerations the other way. This time the Leafs can’t send picks the other way, that doesn’t accomplish what Cox is suggesting. So, with the help from the stats over at, here is a look at who Burke can dangle and their cap hit:

Lee Stempniak cap hit of 1.882 contract ends after 09-10 season
Alexei Ponikarovsky cap hit of 2.105 contract ends after 09-10 season
Nik Antropov, cap hit of 2.050 contract ends after this season. If the Leafs do this they better get a lot back for trading an expiring contract
Jamal Mayers, cap hit of 1.333 contract ends after the 09-10 season
Dominic Moore, cap hit of .900 contract ends after this season. See Antropov
Niklas Hagman, cap hit of 3.000 contract ends after 2011-2012 and NTC this year will make it hard to move him this year
Ryan Hollweg, cap hit of .485 contract ends after this season. See Antropov (except don’t expect a lot back)
Pavel Kubina, cap hit of 5.00 contract ends after 09-10 will make it hard to move him for these reasons
Tomas Kaberle, cap hit of 4.250 contract expires after 10-11 but has a ntc
jeff Finger, cap hit of 3.50 contract ends in 11-12 not likely
Mike Van Ryn cap hit of 2.900 contract ends 09-10
Jonas Frogren cap hit of 1.065 contract ends 09-10
Vesa Toskala cap hit of 4.000 contact ends after 09/10

I left all players under 25 out as their salaries are fairly low and their age making their trade probability fairly low. The Leafs also have Mark Bell with the Marlies to move. The harder thing is how do you trade for high priced talent that isn’t going to improve your team? That just isn’t going to be easy to do. Also when you take these bad guys back how long a contract are you willing to take back? I wouldn’t want a contract back that goes beyond 2010-2011.

I don’t doubt for one second that Burke would like to use his cap space to his advantage. Doing it in a smart effective way is not going to be easy. Also, would the media give Burke a pass for trading for “crap”??? Believe it when I see it.

Cox’s article can be found here

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