Stephane Robidas

Getty

NHL, NHLPA agree on list of veteran players ‘exempt’ from expansion draft

3 Comments

With expansion draft getting closer and closer, the NHL and NHLPA continue to finalize small details regarding this summer’s big event.

According to Craig Custance, the league and the players’ association have agreed on a small list of players that will be exempt from being selected by Vegas.

Here’s the official list of names that was sent to every NHL team: Dave Bolland (Arizona), Craig Cunningham (Arizona), Chris Pronger (Arizona), Cody McCormick (Buffalo), David Clarkson (Columbus), Johan Franzen (Detroit), Joe Vitale (Detroit), Ryane Clowe (New Jersey), Mikhail Grabovski (Islanders), Pascal Dupuis (Penguins), Nathan Horton (Toronto), Stephane Robidas (Toronto).

In each case, the player has been forced to miss an extended period of time because of a serious injury, but they haven’t officially retired.

The move benefits certain teams, like Columbus, who would have been struck protecting Clarkson because he has a no-move clause in his contract. The same goes for Horton in Toronto.

It’s also important to remember that at the end of the expansion draft, Vegas needs to have selected players making at least 60 percent of the salary cap limit. Preventing these players from being taken means the Golden Knights can’t use an injured player’s salary to get to their 60 percent floor and then place the same player on LTIR to open up cap space during the season.

Report: Leafs put three players on LTIR, have lots of cap space now

AP

The Toronto Maple Leafs suddenly have a boatload of cap space.

From Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston:

They quietly placed Nathan Horton, Joffrey Lupul and Stephane Robidas on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) earlier this season — giving themselves the flexibility to operate more than $15-million above the $73-million cap for the remainder of the year.

That unlocks a world of possibilities in a cap-strapped league, especially since the cap itself is projected to rise only minimally in 2017–18.

It remains to be seen how the Leafs will use the cap space. Last year, one of their deadline moves was taking Brooks Laich’s contract off the Washington Capitals’ hands, for the price of Connor Carrick and a second-round draft pick.

But the Leafs are in a different position this season. They’re currently in the hunt for a playoff spot, and though their focus will remain long-term, if it’s the right deal, there’s at least the ability to be a serious player in the rental market.

The trade deadline is March 1.

Related: Lupul to start season on injured reserve, still aims to play again

Report: Leafs win arbitration case with Cowen

Getty

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their arbitration case with Jared Cowen, who will remain bought out.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the news today. It is a significant loss for Cowen, the 25-year-old defenseman who came to the Leafs in February as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade.

From Sportsnet’s story before the ruling:

At issue is whether Cowen was healthy enough to have the final year of his contract bought out by the Leafs last summer. A lengthy section of the CBA is devoted to “procedures for determining fitness to play,” and they include a player’s right to pursue a second medical opinion beyond what is provided by the team.

That information, plus witness testimony and other evidence, will be taken into account by the arbitrator while rendering a decision.

For Cowen, there is $3-million in salary at stake. That represents somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25 per cent of his career NHL earnings to date – a huge amount given his injury history and diminished future earning potential.

For the Leafs, it’s significant win. They’ll actually get a $650,000 cap credit this season. Next season, they’ll take a $750,000 hit, and after that their obligations are over.

If they’d lost, they would’ve lost the credit and assumed a $3.1-million cap hit this season, the final year of Cowen’s contract.

Sportsnet explains why the Leafs didn’t want to lose:

That’s a $3.75-million cap swing in total and would almost certainly result in the Leafs invoking long-term injury relief on one of three players – Nathan Horton, Stephane Robidas or Joffrey Lupul – to remain compliant.

Even though the LTI maneuver would offer immediate relief, it’s something the Leafs hope to avoid since it would increase the size of the cap overage penalty they’ll carry into next season because of performance bonuses expected to be earned by as many as five rookies in their current lineup.

Cowen had hip surgery after he was bought out. It’s been reported he may not be ready to play until February, assuming he can find a team. He played 37 games for the Senators last season, registering no goals and four assists.

Related: Lupul to start season on injured reserve, still aims to play again

Leafs give Auston Matthews a fully loaded rookie deal

Getty
26 Comments

If Lou Lamoriello really was playing hard ball with Auston Matthews, give 2016’s first overall pick credit for hitting it out of the park.

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that they signed the rookie forward to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday.

While the team didn’t lay out the specifics of the deal, it sounds like Matthews got exactly the sort of deal he wanted … at least when you consider the stringent ceiling presented by rookie maximum rules in the CBA.

Any issues with Lamoriello were downplayed. Maybe it was just out of habit for the former New Jersey Devils GM?

For what it’s worth, Lamoriello brushed off any speculation.

It’s possible that most of Toronto’s work is done, at least for this off-season:

Nathan Horton‘s $5.3 million cap hit and Stephane Robidas‘ $3 million mark could both go on LTIR, depending upon the Maple Leafs’ needs, so that number is a little fluid.

The bottom line is that Matthews isn’t breaking the bank. The question is: can the Leafs improve fast enough to truly benefit from the star American forward essentially being underpaid during this entry-level deal?

In other Maple Leafs news, old banners are being replaced. Almost feels like a changing of the guard, huh?

Dallas has prospects ‘everybody wants,’ but Nill isn’t ‘giving them up’

7 Comments

At first glance, the Stars have the look of a deadline buyer — second in the Central Division, second in the Western Conference, trailing only defending champ Chicago in both.

But according to GM Jim Nill, the club might not be all that active by Feb. 29.

Why?

Because he’s loathe to part with the prospects his competitors want.

“We’ve got four young defensemen, five or six young forwards,” Nill said, per NHL.com. “We’ve got three or four guys in the top-20 scoring [Travis Morin, Brendan Ranford, Jason Dickinson] and another guy who’s out for the season in Devin Shore who was leading the league in scoring.

“When I talk about trades, when we got to make trades, that’s who everyone wants and I’m not giving them up. That’s too big a part of our future.”

It’s no secret both Nill and owner Tom Gaglardi are bullish on the club’s prospect pool. Last summer, Gaglardi raved about the club’s blueline depth, saying “we’ve got the deepest bench of defense prospects in the league quite honestly.”

As such, it wasn’t surprising to read this in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts column:

In preparing for “Headlines” last weekend, I asked which teams were most insistent about adding pieces. When it came to forwards, the teams mentioned most often were Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles and the Islanders…

…On defence, it was Los Angeles, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Tampa Bay. No Dallas was interesting, especially since I linked Dan Hamhuis to them last week, so you wonder about your intel. But they didn’t get as many mentions.

All that said, Nill has been aggressive at past deadlines. Last year, he sent veteran winger Erik Cole to Detroit and, the year prior, traded Stephane Robidas to Anaheim and acquired Tim Thomas from Florida.