Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bridgestone Arena on May 2, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(May 1, 2012 - Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)

High cap floor might complicate and motivate summer trades


Maybe the Boston Bruins will find a taker for Tim Thomas’ cap hit after all. With the unrestricted free market getting pretty barren, nearly half the NHL is still under the cap floor according to Cap Geek. Of those teams, 10 of them are still at least $4 million away from reaching the floor.

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that while the unrestricted free agent market has largely dried up, there are still several restricted free agents out there that need to be re-signed.

Still, that won’t necessarily help a team like the Phoenix Coyotes, who don’t have any potentially expensive restricted free agents left and are still $10,891,667 below the salary floor with just three spots left on their projected 23-man roster. If they can’t re-sign Shane Doan, then they’ll have to scramble to find another way to get over the floor — and they won’t be alone.

Another example of a team in an awkward position is the Nashville Predators. After losing out on Ryan Suter, they’re $14,195,833 below the salary cap with 17 players penciled into their 23-man roster. Now they do have several restricted free agents left, but let’s say things get complicated with Shea Weber.

As discussed earlier, Weber might not want another one-year contract. With the potential that the next CBA stop future superstars from getting front-loaded, long-term contracts like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise recently got, Weber might seek to either sign a big contract with Nashville or get traded.

If he goes with the latter option, then that might be a problem for Nashville because they will have a tough time trading him and staying over the floor unless they take a sizable amount of salary back.

The Anaheim Ducks would have the same issue if they traded Bobby Ryan and his $5.1 million annual cap hit, given that they’re still $7,135,833 million under the floor with 17 guys currently penciled into their roster. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are currently operating above the floor, would be in a bit of a pickle if they traded away Rick Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit without taking on some salary in the process.

Of course there’s still enough time left in the summer for these issues to be worked out and it’s even possible that the next CBA will tweak the way the cap floor works. However, the high floor might complicate and simultaneously motivate several of the trades we see over the summer.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?