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Salary cap making trades a difficult proposition

by Paul Kukla /
About this time of year, hockey fans start putting their "dream trades" together. That is all fine and well, but let me remind you of two words: salary cap.
It is not as easy as it used to be to make a trade these days. Two good reads for you on this topic are: From Japers' Rink: A little more than a week ago, Caps Assistant GM Don Fishman sat down with a group of season ticket holders for some "Chalk Talk," a team-hosted Q&A with a member of the organization.
Fishman was surprisingly candid about the team's salary cap situation -- the Caps, at that point, were $190,000 below the $56.7 million ceiling. Not $305,000 below or $668,899 below, but $190,000 below.
So what does $190,000 get you in the NHL these days?
From Dan Wood of Ducks Blog at the Orange County Register:
In order to save $12,000 in salary-cap space, the Ducks on Monday assigned two rookies, left wing Bobby Ryan and defenseman Brett Festerling, to their ECHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. ...

The $12,000 in cap space the Ducks gained by sending Ryan and Festerling to Bakersfield for one day, pro-rated over the course of the full season, could give the club between $50,000 and $60,000 in extra cap space before the March 4 NHL trade deadline.
If you click on the links above, you will get the picture that the longer a team waits to make a trade or signing, the less money they have to spend. This is the main reason we are not seeing many trades early in the season -- the cap situation prevents it.
You may say, "But my team is way below the cap, they can afford so-and-so." True, but do remember, teams have established their own internal cap figure and may not want to go above it for budgetary reasons.
So, the first thing that should be in your mind when you think of or read about a possible trade is, does it fit within the cap. If not, move on and start thinking of a trade that not only will make sense, but also fit within the salary-cap structure.
Feeling Mulish: What do you call a guy with 37 goals in his last 44 games (including the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs) with 15 of those goals being game-winners? In Detroit, you call him "The Mule," while opposing teams call him "That Darn Franzen."

I cannot recall seeing an NHL player as hot as Johan Franzen has been for such a long period of time. What makes it even more remarkable is Franzen was not known as a goal scorer before this amazing run started.

Red Wings fans hope Franzen continues his torrid pace, which makes the Wings much harder to defend. I have yet to see a team "shadow" Franzen with a defensive-type player, but if this pace continues, he will begin drawing other teams' top defensive unit, which should allow more offensive opportunity for the Pavel Datsyuk-Marian Hossa-Tomas Holmstrom line.
On a side note, Franzen will reach UFA status July 1, 2009 if the Wings do not re-sign him. His value continues to rise, and with Henrik Zetterberg and Hossa still unsigned, the Wings will have some decisions to make in the coming months.

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