Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Point and counter-point as we head into a busy(?) draft weekend

Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned an optimistic column regarding what we're about to witness over the next couple of weeks...

Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told reporters he thinks “there’s going to be a lot of funny things happening” at the draft, and if he thinks that, look out. This is the man who traded cornerstones Jeff Carter and Mike Richards at the draft two years ago partly to clear cap space to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, only to watch Carter and Richards win the Cup with the Los Angeles Kings last year, only to buy out Briere and Bryzgalov this year. “It’s a very competitive league,” he said, “and we’re all trying to do what the Blackhawks just did.”

The cap is going from $70.2 million (pro-rated) to $64.3 million next season. No one knows what it will be in the future. Teams against the cap don’t have enough space, and teams in general don’t have enough certainty as they plan for the future. At the same time teams trim players, teams might have a hard time adding players. Moving money will go along with moving bodies.

“There seem to be a lot of teams that want to make changes,” said Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis, who already has traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier. “But it’s always a function of price. What does it cost to get somebody? This is the first time since we’ve had a cap that it’s come down, and that’s going to affect things, because your wants might be affected by your ability to take on those players.”

But the cap is expected to rise in future years, as it did in past years, because it is tied to league revenue. The league has bounced back well from the lockout, and revenue growth is projected to be strong. Nonis spoke from the perspective of a big-market, high-revenue, capped-out team. Listen to Steve Yzerman, the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He said this last week even though the Bolts were about to buy out Lecavalier, their captain, a Cup champion and a community pillar, and they will spent more than $30 million to do it.

“There’s this assumption that all these teams have to get under the cap and have issues,” Yzerman said. “If you analyze every team, there aren’t that many. So I think there will be fewer than a lot of people anticipate. I don’t know. There will be a few. But we look at all of the other 29 teams, and we don’t see that many that are in desperate need to have to do something.”

In the end, it will come down to what it always does under any set of rules under any sort of circumstances: good management. The Detroit Red Wings were supposed to crumble in 2005-06, when their payroll was cut nearly in half by the new $39 million salary cap. They won the Cup in 2008, went back to the final in ’09 and still haven’t missed the playoffs. The Blackhawks lost half their team because of a cap crunch after winning the Cup in 2010; they kept their core, rebuilt their supporting cast and won the Cup again Monday night. Meanwhile, others have been up and down – or just down.

And he continues at length...

But if you're looking for a counterpoint, the Hockey News's Ken Campbell quashes pre-draft trade hype...

Like the Super Bowl, the draft rarely lives up to the hype. If you walk around the team hotels in the days leading up to the event, it would be easy to buy into the notion that the draft floor was going to see a dizzying flurry of blockbuster deals and there would be no end to the intrigue and excitement.

And it rarely lives up to that billing. Will this year be any different? It certainly feels that way. With a salary cap that will be taking at least a temporary dip, as well as talk of buyouts and extensions and things so much in flux, the names are flying around at a frenetic pace. But there we go again, buying into all the hype.

Will there be some deals? Without a doubt. GMs have essentially moved their trade mode from the trade deadline to the draft, so there will undoubtedly be some big deals made. But if all the trades that are being thrown out there are consummated leading up to draft day, it will be the most exhausting day in the history of the NHL.

Count on it being somewhere in the middle.

And boy howdy, is he ever pissed off at the concept that Vinny Lecavalier will be able to earn a significant chunk of change after being bought out by the Lightning:

So let’s say Lecavalier gets three years at $5 million per. That means that with his signing bonus from the Lightning - $3 million, $3 million and $2 million over the next three years that isn’t subject to the two-thirds buyout provision - plus his buyout money, Lecavalier will make $9.8 million, $9.8 million and $8.8 million in the next three seasons.

But apparently $5 million is the going rate for a former 20-goal, 50-point man in his 30s with a history of injuries and skills that are clearly in decline.

If that happens, fans around the NHL will, once again, be totally justified in wondering why we all missed three months of hockey this season. And it will also prove, once again, that there is absolutely no system the league can put in place that can force owners and GMs to show restraint. But most of all, whoever signs Lecavalier, whether it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings or somebody else, will essentially be making the same mistake the Lightning made on a smaller scale.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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