The Waiting Game on Trades and Free Agency..
As I wrote a few days ago most teams being set by August 1st and all of the
second-tier unresritcted free agents being signed are a thing of the past in the new NHL where a salary cap is not something you escape anymore. We saw how Lou Lamoriello got out of his cap problems last summer, he traded his first round pick with Vladimir Malakhov to San Jose and for a marginal player. San Jose took his cap hit which was off the Sharks books because he was injured.
Unlike other years, this one now more then ever sets the stage for teams to unload contracts to clear cap space and pay for doing so, a team at 50m simply cannot make any moves in season to improve themselves unless they dump contracts. Many teams are not at the 50m level and a most teams will have expiring contracts next summer so they will gain some room but for now a few our stuck.
That's where the waiting game comes into play because some gm's have contracts they cannot get rid of and many second tier free agents have to take the hit for all the money the primary free agents made which is why virtually no UFA for a while have been signed.
For example, we have read or seen a lot of speculation about former Islander Brian McCabe being traded back here, despite his no-trade clauses which he insists he's not waiving. I'm picking the McCabe example because it's one usually centered around the Islanders but this could apply to several NHL players.
Sounds acceptable to read about and the Islanders marginally improve their defense with a descent defender but someone who's hardly a difference maker anymore beyond his pp shot at that price would only serve to limit the Islanders and what they can spend by badly overpaying for a contract that is a terrible one for the Leafs. For any team to accept McCabe (or Pavel Kubina) in a trade means taking him at a very high price, which allows the Leafs to go take their new cap space and spend it on primary players who can really help a team which our own team should be looking to sign.
Meanwhile, you look around some Islander fan sites and they not only want to take McCabe's enormous cap hit, they want to give up our prospects to do it.
You really want Brian McCabe, here is the right offer for Garth Snow to make to Leafs GM John Ferguson.
Leafs send McCabe to Islanders and gain 5-7m in cap space:
Isles take McCabe and lose 5-7m in cap space:
Leafs send Islanders three first rounders and their top two prospects:
Islanders send Leafs three worst cap hit contracts (Bates/Park-Snow)
Otherwise it makes no sense to help the Leafs go sign more top level players and even then it just makes sense.
How would you feel next summer if the Jason Spezza sweepstakes came down to the Islanders and Toronto and they won because we took McCabe's contract so they could make an equal or better offer?
That's why were seeing a waiting game or teams rushing to resign an Iginla and not taking any chances.