Kukla's Korner

Puckin' Around With Spector

NHL GMs Face Salary Cap Headaches This Summer.

Over the past couple of weeks, reports have appeared suggesting the NHL salary cap, under the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), could increase as high as $69 million for 2012-13, and if the NHLPA uses its right to escalate that figure by five percent, to potentially $72 million.

Given the established $16 million gap between the cap maximum (“ceiling”) and the cap minimum (“floor”), if the ceiling is $69 million, the floor would be $53 million. If it were $72 million, the “floor” would be $56 million.

That number, however, could be temporary, for it’s expected the league will seek to reduce the players share of revenue, from the current 57 percent down to around 50 percent, in the next CBA, which would mean a salary rollback to facilitate a reduction of the cap ceiling and floor.

Enlisting the aid (via Twitter) of James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail, and David Johnson of HockeyAnalysis.com, I examined this possibility in a recent post on my website.

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  Tags: cba, nhl, salary+cap

Cherry Bombs Off-Target.

Whether you love Don Cherry or hate him, there’s no denying he’s a master of self-promotion, and ratings gold for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Cherry, the so-called “Prime Minister of Saturday Night”, uses his Coach’s Corner bully pulpit to educate, engage, enrage and generally entertain those who regularly tune in to his first intermission segment.

He knows how to get folks talking about him – no, the irony isn’t lost on me - and doesn’t give a damn what others think of his opinions.

His March 3rd Coach’s Corner was no different, as Cherry launched into a spirited tirade against Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, sparked by an ongoing feud between the two over Cherry’s frequent criticisms of former Leafs head coach Ron Wilson, to the point where the Leafs GM apparently complained to Cherry’s bosses at the CBC.

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  Tags: burke, cherry, maple+leafs

What Will NHL Trade Deadline Look Like Under New CBA?

The passing of the final NHL trade deadline under the current collective bargaining agreement raises questions about the potential impact the next CBA could have upon future trade deadlines.

Currently no one knows what the next collective bargaining agreement could contain. What follows is speculation as to potential issues which could affect the trade deadline under a new agreement.

Date for the trade deadline. Under the current CBA, the trade deadline was moved from the 26th day to the 40th day immediately preceding the final day of the regular season.

It’s been suggested the current date falls too early in the season, resulting in too many “buyers” and not enough “sellers’, compared to mid-or-late-March, when most of the playoff contenders have been determined, thus putting more “sellers” into the trade market.

This is unlikely to be a significant issue in the next CBA, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the date remains unchanged.

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  Tags: cba, nhl, nhlpa, salary+cap, trade+deadline

Gauging Erik Karlsson’s Worth.

In only his third NHL season, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is quickly becoming one of the league’s elite blueliners.

A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman, the 21-year-old Karlsson is having the best season of his young NHL career. As of February 22, his 43 assists and 57 points already exceed the 32 assists and 45 points of his sophomore season, placing him atop the league leaders in points for blueliners by a wide margin.

Karlsson’s performance is among the key factors in the Senators surprising season, as they continue to confound pre-season expectations by remaining in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

He’s become the offensive blueliner they’ve been lacking since Wade Redden’s salad days, and if he stays healthy, will easily break the team record for most points in a season by a Senators defenseman (63).

Team owner Eugene Melnyk was ebullient in recent praise for the young Swede, telling a Toronto radio station Karlsson could “go down in history with great defenseman of all time”.

High praise indeed, but also strong ammunition for Karlsson’s agent to use in contract negotiations with GM Bryan Murray at season’s end.

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  Tags: doughty, green, karlsson, senators

Trading Stars At The Deadline Doesn’t Always Pan Out.

It’s an accepted wisdom among fans and pundits that the NHL trade deadline is one of the best opportunities for a struggling non-playoff team to net significant returns for a star player who no longer fits into their future plans.

Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin become a subject of derision near the 2008 trade deadline from Toronto hockey fans and scribes for not waiving his movement clause to facilitate a trade which, in their minds, would’ve fetched a return of riches guaranteed to turn their moribund Leafs into a future Cup contender.

The recent news of the Columbus Blue Jackets fielding offers for team captain Rick Nash (not an unrestricted free agent, but nevertheless a major star player) has some of their fans dreaming over the wealth of promising talent their woeful club could receive in a trade deadline deal.

Unfortunately, the reality is significant trade deadline moves usually don’t work out for the team trading away its star, as the return is rarely as worthwhile as hoped.

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  Tags: lightning, maple+leafs, nhl, penguins, sabres, trade+deadline

KHL Still No Serious Threat to NHL.

When the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was founded in 2008, more than a few observers suggested it had the resources to not only retain the best Russian talent, but could also prove a viable rival to the National Hockey League for the world’s best players.

One reason for that belief was the presence of wealthy Russian investors, many of whom earned their fortunes via the country’s lucrative petroleum industry, making it possible for KHL teams to offer up competitive salaries to top free agent players.

Russian professional athletes also don’t to pay income tax on their salaries in their home country, which was also seen as another potential enticement.

It was also believed the KHL, born in part out of frustration over the NHL’s unwillingness to properly compensate Russian teams when their best young players were signed by NHL teams, would stand a better chance of retaining that young talent than the old Russian Super League.

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  Tags: jagr, khl, nhl, putin, radulov

Reducing Players’ Share of Revenue Won’t Save Poorly-Managed Teams.

When the NHL and NHLPA finally get together to open the latest round of CBA negotiations, it’ll be interesting to see what the league hopes to gain from the proceedings.

In the previous CBA negotiations, it was all about “cost certainty” for the league and the team owners, in the form of a salary cap. The owners wanted it so badly, assuring fans it was what was needed to “save” the league, they were willing to lose an entire season to achieve that goal.

Today, of course, “cost certainty” has been around since 2005. The owners got what they wanted, but in the years since “winning” the great labor war with the NHLPA, the salary cap hasn’t eradicated the problem of money-losing franchises.

Media speculation suggests the league will once again push to reduce the players’ share of revenue as a means of addressing that problem.

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What Should Selanne Do?

The struggles of the Anaheim Ducks this season has resulted in veteran winger Teemu Selanne being frequently mentioned in recent trade rumors.

Ducks GM Bob Murray has repeatedly stated his intent is for Selanne to retire a Duck, though he’s left that decision up to the 41-year old Selanne, who hasn’t fully closed the door on the option of requesting a trade to a Stanley Cup contender, but said his focus remains helping the Ducks reach the playoffs.

Despite winning eight of their last ten games, the Ducks are currently 12 points out of a post-season spot, and with less than half-a-season remaining, their odds of clinching a berth appear long.

It’s rumored Murray has received enquiries from rival clubs about Selanne’s trade status, which is understandable, since he’s currently their leading scorer, and with 45 points in 48 games, has a good shot at reaching the 80-point mark for the tenth time in his remarkable career.

Some observers believe Selanne “owes” it to the Ducks to “do the right thing” by allowing Murray to shop him at the trade deadline to get whatever assets he can.

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Notable NHL Trade Rumors of the First Half Of 2011-12.

The current NHL season is now past the half-way point, and with the February 27th trade deadline now less than six weeks away, the speculation over which players are potential trade bait continues to grow

Here’s a look back at some of the more, shall we say, “notable” NHL trade rumors since late November.

Jarome Iginla to Canadiens, Capitals or anywhere!  The trade rumors over the Flames captain persisted, no matter how often Iginla or Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster denied them. Indeed, the denials only seemed to give the rumors more life. Even now, in the aftermath of the Flames acquisition of Mike Cammalleri (a sure sign they’re shooting for a playoff berth) some rumormongers persist with the claim “Iggy” could be gone by the trade deadline. Sad to see someone stuck with an addiction. They just can’t quit Iginla.

Alexander Semin to Detroit. The basis for this seems to be the assumption Semin would be the perfect fit with Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, because they’re Russian, y’know? Kinda like the reason a team will acquire a Canadian-born star to play with their Canadian-born star, because everyone knows Canadian-born players always, with exception, play well together.  Even if the Wings were interested in Semin, he wouldn’t net the Washington Capitals the kind of scoring winger or playmaking defenseman they’d need to secure a playoff berth. The Capitals aren’t sellers at this point, and unless they can get back a quality scoring star of equal or greater value, they won’t move Semin, to the Red Wings, or anyone else.

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NHL CBA Negotiations: The Road Ahead.

The dust has settled from the NHLPA’s decision to reject – or rather, non-decision to accept – the NHL’s new divisional realignment plan, with most of the mainstream media and blogosphere punditry considering it the opening act in the next round of CBA negotiations.

Opinion appears divided over whether it was a good move by the PA to show the league it won’t be pushed around by the league, or a dangerous one which can only result in another work stoppage.

Regardless, it’s probably a good idea to prepare ourselves for the public posturing to come from both sides.

First, it’s important to remember the labor landscape is very different now compared to 2004, when the atmosphere between the two sides was poisoned by acrimony as they dug in for a very nasty standoff.

Back then, it was about “cost certainty”, aka salary cap, as well as the owners desire to crush then-PA director Bob Goodenow (who they passionately hated) and his militant right-hand men within the Association.

Today, the salary cap is firmly in place, and the PA has no desire to fight for its removal. Commissioner Bettman and the team owners, meanwhile, face a much different opponent in new PA director and former long-time MLB player union head Donald Fehr, resulting in a lack of mudslinging we previously saw when Goodenow ruled the PA roost.

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About Puckin' Around With Spector

I’m Lyle Richardson. You might know me from my website, Spector’s Hockey, my thrice-weekly rumor column at THN.com, my weekly column at Eishockey News (if you read German), and my former gig as a contributing writer to Foxsports.com.

I’ll be writing a once-weekly blog here with my take on all things NHL. Who knows, I might actually find time to debunk a trade rumor or two.

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