Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is deftly playing the system when it comes to the salary cap to the point that some might accuse him of exploiting loopholes.
If the NHL bristles as such tactics, they’re at least not showing it in public.
In taking on the absolutely dead money of Chris Pronger and Pavel Datsyuk along with the possibly dead money of Dave Bolland, the Coyotes are getting to the cap floor while saving money in the actual cash they’re dishing out.
The Score’s Ian MacLaren succinctly explains the savings they’re enjoying thanks to these clever trades:
That’s how the league is viewing Arizona taking on the salaries of Chris Pronger, Pavel Datsyuk and Dave Bolland. The cap hits amount to almost $18 million but result in less than $2 million in actual salary paid out by the club, while simultaneously allowing it to reach the cap floor.
Honestly, it’s difficult to shake the image of Gary Bettman & Co. bristling at the tactics of a franchise they’ve defended year after year amid myriad arena issues.
Today’s Slapshot’s Craig Morgan caught up with Bill Daly, whose overall message is that the league is OK with what Arizona is doing.
“I would say that it’s a matter that we monitor, like all other areas of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), and if we believe it starts to be abused in a way that is inconsistent with how the system is designed to work, at that point, we would try to correct it in collective bargaining with the union,” Daly said. “I would say we aren’t at that point on this issue — we do not view it as the loophole that some describe it as.”
One key point from Daly is that he doesn’t view Bolland’s case as the same as that of Pronger or Datsyuk. The critical distinction is that Bolland at least hopes to become healthy enough to play again.
(Chakya’s update wasn’t particularly optimistic in that regard, but a return isn’t totally inconceivable since Bolland is just 30.)
Best of both worlds for Coyotes
Again, the Coyotes are really reaping the benefits of this gameplan. Not only are they saving real dollars by absorbing other teams’ dead money, they’re using those trades to acquire promising assets like Jakob Chychrun and Lawson Crouse.
These are the sort of moves that make the team look bright today and possibly terrifying for opponents in the future, even if the 2016-17 product may be a little hit-or-miss.
Time may tell how the NHL truly feels
To some extent, we probably won’t know how the NHL truly feels about this situation until the next CBA eventually gets hashed out.
Then again, the league did make a big stink about cap circumvention during the memorable days of Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract negotiations, so perhaps such maneuvering really doesn’t bother the NHL?
Maybe, but you’re free to picture Bettman grumbling about Chayka’s moves either way.