Saturday, 17 July 2021

That'll Cost You

I wrote a tweet a few days ago that basically said that salary cap space, specifically in flat cap years, would be worth its weight in gold as general managers look to "solve" the very problems they created through massive contracts and no-movement clauses. We've already see Zach Parise and Ryan Suter cut loose in Minnesota as the Wild look to find some cap space to use, but what about teams that are already cash-strapped and can't afford to have years of buyout money on the books? We got that answer today when the Arizona Coyotes and New York Islanders swung a deal that cost the Islanders a lot more than one contract.

Andrew Ladd, the former Stanley Cup champion and captain of the Winnipeg Jets, was traded from the Islanders to the Coyotes today as Lou Lamoriello looked to shed the $4,375,000 left on Ladd's deal in each of the next two seasons. Arizona, as shown, would lose that cap space on their budget, so they demanded a little more from the Islanders. And then a little more after that. And then a tad more beyond that second ask.

The cost for the Islanders to rid themselves of Ladd's contract was in the form of draft picks, and it cost the Islanders a 2021 second-rounder, a 2022 conditional second-rounder, and a 2023 conditional third-rounder. The condition on the 2022 pick is that the Coyotes get the better of the two picks the Islanders own in 2022 with respect to the pick they have or the pick that Colorado traded them in the Devon Toews deal. That also means that neither of those picks can be traded now since the condition is in play. The condition on the third-round pick is that if Ladd plays one game for the Coyotes in 2021-22, the Islanders will also transfer that pick to the Coyotes.

You better believe that GM Bill Armstrong is calling Ladd at this very moment to see if he's in game shape to get that extra draft pick out of the Islanders. I know I'd be doing that.

With the Coyotes not having a first-round pick in the upcoming draft, it would seem that Bill Armstrong is going to hammer teams to get as many picks in the coming years as he can if other teams want him to eat a contract. Again, having cap space is extremely valuable when it comes to getting what you want or what you need if you're an NHL GM. This cannot be stressed enough.

The Islanders also dealt Nick Leddy to the Red Wings in exchange for Richard Panik and a second-round pick previously owned by Edmonton earlier this week in order to prevent Leddy from being exposed in the expansion draft, so they've shedded a solid, capable defender and three picks for essentially a bottom-six forward and a second-round pick this season.

That doesn't seem very Lamoriello-like at all.

Let's also not forget that the cost for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in this year's playoffs was the Islanders' first-round selection in the draft, so, in acquiring that Edmonton pick from Detroit, the Islanders will make their first selection at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at pick #52. I know Lou Lamoriello relies on some good scouting to make shrewd picks, but there will have been 51 good players selected before he gets to the podium. That seems very non-Lou too, so I'm going to assume that in order to make everything right Lou will sign Kyle Palmieri with the cap room he has now made for himself.

That being said, though, the cost to clear that cap space for Palmieri is high as shown by this deal between the Islanders and Coyotes, and the names that are rumoured to be exposed in the expansion draft - Carey Price, Vladmir Tarasenko, and Gabriel Ladeskog, for example - prove just how valuable that space may be for teams that need a little wiggle room in their budgets.

Don't ever undervalue the importance of cap space. It is a very valuable asset in the NHL for every team.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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