Monday, December 11, 2006

Devils New Salary Cap Problem

It was a relatively big story when New Jersey made some last minute moves to make the salary cap on opening day. They traded all but retired Vladimir Malakhov to San Jose to get his salary off their books and had Alexander Mogilny declared a longterm injury exception because of his hip problems and likely forced Mogilny into retirement.

The Devils also had Richard Matvichuk's bad back declared a longterm injury exemption and Jason Weimer's knee surgery declared a longterm injury exemption and sent Dan McGillis to the AHL because they could not afford his salary.

Matvichuk is recovered from his injury and nearly ready to play again, but New Jersey doesn't have the salary cap room to activate him. Weimer is expected back in February, and will likely create a new round of salary cap problems.

In the near term, Lou Lamoreillo will have to make a decision about what to do with Matvichuk. Matvichuk is 33 and coming off of back surgery. So it might be logical to merely send him to the minors and have him lost for the rest of the season because of re-entry waivers. This would likely push him into retirement as well. Other options include some kind of salary dumping trade or possibly a demotion of Brad Lukowich. Because New Jersey is on a five game winning streak, it might make sense to not make any changes and discard Matvichuk to the minors. Why change things when they are going well? A similar decision will be needed when Weimer comes back.

New Jersey's salary cap problems have weakened the NHL. Alexander Mogilny, Vladimir Malakhov and quite possibly Richard Matvichuk will be forced into retirement for financial reasons and not because they were ready to retire. Dan McGillis is playing very well in the AHL. His 17 points in 26 games leads the Lowell Devils defence. He would be a great player to call up to the Devils defence, except they cannot for salary cap reasons. The salary cap is keeping talent out of the NHL that would otherwise be there.

Once again, the New Jersey Devils find themselves with salary cap problems due to poor planning by Lou Lamoreillo. He will have to do some fancy manoeuvering to get himself out of these problems. The problem is that this manoeuvering pushes players out of the NHL (and often into retirement) for no reason other than their salary. The best players are not in the NHL, other cheaper, but not as good, players wind up taking their spots.

Comments:
Good points! You could add in dozens of older players forced out of the NHL after the lockout and imposed cap. Players who may have refused to change cities late in their careers or become some GM's $700,000. bargain.

I'm led to believe hockey fans didn't gain all that much with this new NHL and restricting CBA.

If you adore shootouts, watered down physicality, and disillusioned standings - you're ahappy fan!
 
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