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All About Getting The Intel

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s human nature to be concerned with how much you can spend.


What gets less attention is how much you are obliged to spend.

That could be one of the interesting themes in the discussions that will preclude Friday’s NHL entry draft.

The new NHL spending cap limits player salaries to $64 million. But a less noticeable element in the cap penalizes teams who do not reach the $48 million floor in spending.

And according to consistently-cited website Cap Geek, nearly half the league falls short of that target right now including, believe it or not, the Maple Leafs who are on the hook for $41.3 million.

Here is where the backsliding starts. The Leafs haven’t signed Luke Schenn and Clarke MacArthur as well as the far more modestly priced Tyler Bozak Darryl Boyce, Tim Brent, Joey Crabb, J.S. Giguere and Matt Lashoff. The price for the only premier free agent in the mix, Brad Richards, could top $8 per annum. In other words, the ceiling, not the floor, will be of the most concern for Brian Burke in Toronto and Glen Sather in New York.

But the Florida Panthers are nearly $28 million short of the cap. Carolina is $17 million short.

The impact of the floor might have interesting consequences. Do teams who have historically eschewed the free agent sweepstakes jump in? Do the Colorado Avalanche, always mindful of an internal cap, balk at trading Paul Stastny because his $6.6 million salary is too valuable?

Does Mike Komisarek, who has struggled in his first two years in Toronto under the weight of his $4.5 million salary become attractive to teams looking for a defenceman on the rebound who comes with the double advantage of being expensive.

So many questions. Answers to come.



June 23, 11:00 a.m.

Intel.

It’s the murkiest of the black arts at the NHL entry draft.

If you know what the team before you or even five places before you is planning to do, do you have an advantage?

Of course.

Getting a line on what your rivals are doing is a time-honoured dodge, like stealing signs in baseball.

But in the increasingly corporate world in which NHL teams exist, boozy golf tournaments and offering a competing scout a ride home during a snow storm in Brandon probably won’t get you much.

More than ever, scouts are ciphers whose remarks are ushered to head office via the world-wide web. The scouts are often younger and business savvy, perhaps more cautious than ever before about the risks of information leaks.

But hockey people are nothing if not resourceful. When a scout sees a rival general manager eyeballing a prospect, that’s a pretty good gauge of interest. The prospect’s coach or agent can sometimes be depended upon to talk about how many sets of eyes have perused the player.

But how much actual advantage is gained though is tough to appraise?

Who another organization is going to choose matters mostly if they are talking about a player a team covets. By now, they  will have developed countless contingency plans.

This year’s draft has one clear leader, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins soon to be of the Edmonton Oilers.  An interesting choice has developed at two for Colorado between Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson and Jonathan Huberdeau whose standout performance at the Memorial Cup catapulted him over most of his competitors. Swedish left winger Gabriel Landeskog is considered the most NHL ready so that could muddy the mix a bit among the top four (Edmonton, Colorado, Florida and New Jersey).

Barring a deal, the Leafs will draft 25th, 30th and 39th so with a couple of hundred names from which to select, their choices won’t really hinge on who is left but on who is left that they want most.
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