The Monday after a weekend of binge drafting is the worst, especially if your name is Dale Tallon. Seeing the monstrosity of a team that lied before him and what he had to spend to reach the salary cap floor of $48 million, we’ve heard that Tallon had several rounds of Flaming Moe‘s Thursday night before stumbling back to his hotel room smelling of children’s cough syrup.
After sleepwalking through the entire weekend, he woke up this morning with a dry mouth, foggy memory, and Brian Campbell. In his stupor he was miraculously a partner in an event we all assumed was impossible. The untradeable contract was traded, and Tallon inched just a little closer to that cap floor. Keep up the good work, Dale, only $26 million more to go.
Baseball fans in Toronto know the joy of watching an albatross fly west, so when Campbell’s $7.2 million cap hit per year headed in a southerly direction, hope was restored for other hockey outposts harbouring immovable anchors. Sure, Campbell has fine offensive talent, and fills the role of that proverbial puck-moving defenceman with ease. But that’s a steep, potentially crushing price to pay for a once elite offensive defenceman with 65 points over his last two seasons, and 31 games missed due to injury.
Thankfully, the rising cap floor has made the impossible possible. Now there’s hope for other teams that desperately want to cast those salary anchors overboard, hope that will continue to exist as long as the Dale Tallons of the NHL keep managing teams with the frugality of a mother of six at No Frills.
But let’s be real here. Nobody actually wants Scott Gomez, right?
With Campbell’s eight-year, $57 million contract moving from Chi Town to the place where hockey is behind basketball, college football, women in bikinis, and the Ninja Professional Blender infomercial, Gomez’s deal in Montreal now ascends to its rightful place as the league’s most obscene contract.
At the height of The Great Smurf Revolution in Hab-land during the summer of 2009, then Habs GM Bob Gainey acquired Gomez and his seven-year, $51.5 million contract in a trade with the New York Rangers. He did this despite Gomez posting 58 points during the previous season, which at the time was the second lowest single-season output of his career (Gomez shattered that mark this season with his seven goals and 38 points over 80 games).
Gomez’s first season in Montreal was respectable by his career standards. The 31-year-old has averaged 61.3 points per season over his 11-year career, and he finished with 59 in 2009-10. Fast forward one year, and Gomez is now earning $210,525.32 per point, and $1,142,857.14 per goal. In monetary hockey terms, Gomez has the value of a Masserati, but the engine of a Pinto.
The stench of Gomez’s contract hovers around Pierre Gauthier’s office, but it’s difficult to envision any team wanting to take on a drastically under-producing forward at a cap hit of roughly $7.4 million. Complicating matters slightly is Gomez’s minor no-trade clause in which he can list three teams he won’t accept.
So if we disregard the obvious fit in Florida as Tallon continues to reach for the cap floor, is there a possible suitor for Gomez’s dead weight? Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette says the answer lies in the salary cap arithmetic, and points to Colorado as a possible destination, a team with a current payroll of $29.5 million and few marquee free agents to retain. The Avalanche are ahead of only the Panthers in terms of overall payroll.
Hickey also gives a nod to the Coyotes, a perpetually cash-strapped franchise with a $32.7 million payroll, and Ed Jovanovski’s $6.5 million cap hit coming off the books. However, restricted free agent Keith Yandle is due for a sizable raise after the expiration of his rookie contract, and a large void was left in the crease after the departure of Ilya Bryzgalov. Throw in Michal Rozsival, Lee Stempniak, Ray Whitney, and Shane Doan hitting the UFA market next summer, and an underachieving forward who had his best season five years is especially unappealing in Phoenix.
Gauthier may be wise to wait one year before making his Gomez push. As Eyes On The Prize noted last week, Gomez’s cap hit remains the same in the final two years of his contract, but the overall yearly value goes from $7.5 million to $5.5, making the acquisition of a skilled if fading forward with some upside more attractive. Due to the uncertainty of the constantly rising cap, teams often give a players’ actual salary greater consideration than the cap hit.
For now though that anchor otherwise known as Scott Gomez will remain firmly fastened to Gauthier’s bow as he sails the rough Montreal waters.