Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs

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It’s official: there’s no such thing as a contract that cannot be traded.

In what will probably be the most unlikely trade of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs unloaded David Clarkson’s contract to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nathan Horton, who appears to be on the verge of retirement.

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen already provided a quote for the team’s release, in case you need evidence that you’re not dreaming.

“David Clarkson has been a 30-goal scorer in the NHL who will bring added character and leadership to our group and we believe he will be a valuable contributor to our team,” Kekalainen said. “While we are excited to welcome David to the Blue Jackets, it is also difficult that Nathan’s time here has ended prematurely due to his injury situation. He is a tremendous person and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that this was a straight player-for-player trade with no money retained by either side.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that it ultimately comes down to pure dollars: the Leafs can afford to pay Horton to not play (thus saving cap space with him on LTIR), while Columbus needs that money to go to someone who’s on the ice. Here are more details from McKenzie:

David Clarkson carries a $4.75 million cap hit along with the following salary breakdown:

Meanwhile, Nathan Horton’s salary looks like this ($6 million cap hit):

Despite this being a huge deal, it apparently got rolling very quickly.

The jokes have been fast and furious, with a ton of praise for Leafs GM Dave Nonis.