It’s September 12 and Bryan McCabe still finds himself without an NHL team. The 36-year-old defenseman was traded to the New York Rangers just before the trade deadline last season. He didn’t deliver the Rangers the postseason success they were hoping for, picking up just two assists in the team’s five game series against the Washington Capitals.
Since then, it’s been relatively quiet on the McCabe front.
At 36 years of age, McCabe is certainly not a youngster. He’s also not going to fetch the $5.75 million cap hit he had on his last contract. That said, McCabe had 28 points in 67 games last season with the Rangers and the Florida Panthers. He was a plus two on the season. Those aren’t outstanding numbers, but they should still result in an NHL deal somewhere. McCabe has been around the NHL for quite a while, so you’d think that his experience alone would be enough to get him a few looks from around the league.
He would also have value on the power play, an area where several NHL teams should be looking for help. He’s got a powerful shot and the skills to hammer the puck home with the man advantage.
Yet, he remains a free agent.
Don’t get us wrong, we understand McCabe’s shortcomings. He was a whipping boy in Toronto for many years and defensively he’s not the strongest player on the ice, to put it nicely. He gives the puck away with some regularity and he doesn’t always shoot as frequently as he should. The terms “aggressive” and “tough” aren’t used very often alongside the name “McCabe” and very few 36-year-olds have the legs they once had. All of those negatives are true, but there are quite a few defensemen in the NHL who are worse than McCabe and they are all under contracts with NHL teams.
There are a number of NHL franchises that could use a big shot from the point and a veteran presence. McCabe is not a bad option for any of those teams.
It could be because of his contract expectations. As we mentioned earlier, there’s no way he’s going to get anything close to the $5.75 million that he collected last season. If he’s expecting anything in that range, he’s going to continue sitting at home.
According to an NHL.com piece, McCabe reportedly ” turned down at least one invite in hopes of a contract before camps begin.”
Camps for most teams will be open by this weekend, so McCabe is running out of time if he hopes to secure a contract.
The Toronto Star links him to the Ottawa Senators or the New York Islanders, both teams that could use a veteran presence on the blue line. Whether or not either of those teams, or anyone else in the league, bites on McCabe will have a lot to do with his salary. At somewhere around $1 million, he’s a good low-risk addition to a team’s third defensive pairing and their power play. If that number goes up much higher, he becomes a gamble that many teams won’t be willing to take.