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Economy Making Deals Difficult

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

There’s no doubt that limitations caused by the salary cap have caused a decrease in the number of trades made across the NHL.  Add a sluggish economy to the mix, and it’s no wonder why there hasn’t been a lot of movement across the league so far this season.

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The issues is that, in addition to some teams not being able to add to their payroll according to the salary cap rules, more and more teams aren’t able to add salary according to their own budgetary constraints.

According to GM Jim Rutherford, that’s been a factor in why he hasn’t yet moved one of his extra defensemen, something he’s been interested in doing since before training camp began in order to lower his expenses.

”The fact of the matter is that other teams are trying to do the same things in trying to manage their business and cut their payrolls a little bit,” said Rutherford.  “As long as teams are trying to do that, it’s pretty difficult to make a deal.”

The recent situation with Josef Melichar provides a good example.  Last week the team waived the Czech defenseman, a healthy scratch for the past four games, but got no takers.

“Us putting him on waivers was trying to free up a contract,” said Rutherford.  “It’s not because we didn’t like him and not because we didn’t like his play, it was just an opportunity to move a player out.  I know there were teams interested in him, but they just weren’t in a position to take on another contract.”

The extra players on the roster can be useful, as the Canes found out recently when injuries hit their defense and extra players quickly found themselves in game action (Melichar has played in 10 games this season).  However, the current landscape seems to be making that depth a luxury that teams can’t afford.

”It’s not like there’s guys in this eight that we don’t like and we think can’t help the team,” said Rutherford.  “It’s just the economics of our business.”

Since claiming a player on waivers or trading players for draft picks is purely a salary add, player-for-player trades where the incoming salary is offset by the departing player actually seem to be a more workable route.

“I don’t think you’re going to see nearly as much of that, especially this year,” said Rutherford of player-for-pick moves.  “Maybe around the trade deadline you’ll see it because the player’s contract will be mostly paid by then and the team doesn’t take on as much salary.  I don’t think that you’re going to see it at this time.”

Rutherford said that moving an extra defenseman is still on the radar, but the team’s recent run of good health makes the situation not as much of a priority as it was earlier in the season when so many forwards were injured.

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