by PuckStopsHere on 10/13/11 at 04:14 PM ET
The salary cap is a tool to keep team expenses down, as teams cannot exceed a certain payroll. Conversely a salary floor is a tool to keep team expenses up. The most significant flirt with the salary floor has been the Dallas Stars. The team is going through bankruptcy and is trying to keep expenses down. They had a bit of a crisis when Sean Avery was sent to the minors by the New York Rangers. The Rangers had claimed Avery from the Stars on re-entry waivers and as such the Stars had half of his salary cap hit ($1.9375 million) count toward them. With Avery in the minors his salary cap hit disappeared and Dallas was in salary floor difficulty. They got short term relief when Adam Pardy was injured. This allowed Philip Larsen onto their roster. The problem is Pardy is expected to come back soon.
The solution was to trade for Eric Nystrom from the Minnesota Wild, but to do it in the way to make his salary cap hit as big as possible.
Minnesota had waived Nystrom and sent him to the minors. They put him through re-entry waivers, in hopes of some team claiming him. In this case, the claiming team would get Nystrom for half of his $1.4 million salary cap hit ($700,000). Nobody claimed him despite the fact Dallas was interested. After he cleared re-entry waivers, Dallas traded for Nystrom giving up future considerations (believed to be a conditional draft pick). Dallas needed Nystrom’s entire $1.4 million salary cap hit on their books. They stood about $300,000 below the salary floor. Dallas needed their incoming player to exceed the salary of the player who he would replace on their roster by at least that much. Tomas Vincour and his $800,000 salary cap hit was the player in question. So Nystrom at full cost qualified, but Nystrom at half price did not. The Dallas Stars could not accept him on re-entry waivers.
Eric Nystrom will do little to improve the Dallas Stars. He is coming off of a 12 point season where he posted the fourth worst Corsi rating in the league. He is exactly what is needed to solve their salary floor problem for now.
The Dallas Stars salary floor issue is probably not solved. They will likely want to trade some expiring contracts for draft picks as they fall out of contention. They cannot do that as things currently stand. Look for Dallas to try to acquire a player or two who is paid less than his salary cap hit in an attempt to keep costs down if they wish to make such deals.
The Dallas Stars are not going to contend this year. They are going to be a cheap team as they go through bankruptcy. They were forced to add Eric Nystrom in the most expensive way possible just to stay above the salary floor. That isn’t the kind of move a contending team makes.
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