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If you were counting on a typical slow mid-July stretch news-wise last week and checked out early, you missed an eventful second half of the week in terms of Hurricanes hockey news and rumors.
Last Wednesday, Jaccob Slavin was extended for seven years at $5.3 million per year on Wednesday. I provided my initial thoughts on Slavin and that transaction HERE.
Then on Thursday, a rumor broke on Thursday that the Hurricanes were close to being sold for something in the neighborhood of $500 million. On Saturday, I posted round two of my thoughts on that potential deal including links to my first article and also the primary sources for the initial rumors HERE.
For anyone who wants to dig into either topic in more detail, yesterday’s Sunday Canes Chronicle featured links to a whopping 13 articles on these two subjects.
Buried beneath the big news stories last week were a few new developments and also a couple other notes that have piled up over the past week or so, so today’s Daily Cup of Joe is a Canes catch up of sorts on a grab bag of topics.
There are recent rumors that the Carolina Hurricanes have been in discussions to trade for Marian Hossa. The move is another of the salary cap world oddities. To catch anyone up who is not familiar with the situation, Hossa has four years remaining on his current contract. The salary cap hit on that deal is a whopping $5.3 million per season. But significantly, the actual salary is only $1 million per year. Also important to note is that Hossa is headed to injured reserve with what is being described as a reaction/side effect to a medication he has been using to treat a skin disorder. He is not expected to play in 2017-18, and it seems like that his hockey career may be over.
So what does that mean for the Blackhawks, and how does that bring the Hurricanes into play?
For the Blackhawks, if Hossa is in fact destined for four years on long-term injured reserve, they would get cap relief from the LTIR rules. While one might figure that it is as simple as taking the $5.3 million back reusing how and when the team chooses, this is not the case. LTIR salary cap rules are complex. Tracey Myers from CSN Chicago touched on the complexities in this article. Without wading deeper into the murky world of salary cap math, the upshot is that the Blackhawks would be much better served by unloading the salary cap hit altogether. A buyout is not an option since Hossa is injured. And retirement would hit the Blackhawks with a prohibitive salary cap recapture penalty that makes that option infeasible. But trading Hossa would clear him from the Blackhawks’ books.
For the Hurricanes, if the team acquired Hossa in a trade, it would incur the $5.3 million salary cap hit for four years. Especially in the early years, the salary cap hit is completely irrelevant. The Hurricanes will not need it to reach the cap floor, and with their current salary cap structure, the extra cap hit will not limit the team’s ability to add players. What does matter is the fact that the Hurricanes would need to pay $1 million in real salary per year for four years.
So the possible match trade-wise is figuring out how much the Blackhawks would be willing pay in draft picks, prospects or players to unload Hossa’s salary cap hit for the next four years and then putting a dollar value to that collection of assets from the Hurricanes’ side. If the answer comes back that what the Blackhawks will offer is valued at more than $4 million by the Hurricanes’ brain trust (and they are willing to spend $4 million to acquire those assets instead of maybe spending them on roster budget instead), then there is a deal to be had.
One other wild card would be if the NHL declared that Hossa could not go on LTIR. If that happens and even the LTIR version of salary cap relief evaporates for the Blackhawks, their urgency and price they would pay to deal Hossa would increase significantly, but based on what has been reported so far, that seems unlikely.
So I picture Eric Tulsky figuring out some methodology to put a dollar value to different draft picks and prospects that might be available from the Blackhawks if he does not have something like this already sitting on his math shelf.
Lost to some degree in the busy news week was the fact that 2017 first-round pick Martin Necas signed his entry-level deal. The move is significant in a couple ways. First, by being under contract with the Hurricanes for the 2017-18 season, Necas is now eligible to play for the Hurricanes this season and a European player also eligible to play for the Checkers. On the AHL option, as of his visit for prospect camp shortly after the draft, it was not clear where Necas would play for the 2017-18 season. As a European, his options run the gamut from staying home in the Czech Republic, making the jump to Canadian juniors or playing in the AHL (all of these of course assuming he does not blow the doors off in training camp and make the NHL team). The key advantage for the Canadian junior or European route is that by not playing professionally in North America, the first year of his entry-level deal would slide forward to 2018-19. Unless the team believes that the AHL has a significant advantage in terms of furthering Necas’ development, my best guess is that the team steers him toward a 2017-18 option that does not burn the first on his entry-level contract.
After seeing him at prospect camp, I am very high on Martin Necas. Best bet is that he is a few years away from being NHL-ready, but for a player with his level of talent, I always keep a close eye out during scrimmage and game-like action to see if just maybe he looks to be ready ahead of schedule. In today’s hockey world, young elite players develop quickly and many of the best players rise up ahead of any kind of step-wise development schedule. For me, the most significant early read is a player’s ability to think the game at NHL speed. Albeit against younger and lesser competition, Necas scored well in that regard in July.
Check out also my notes from the prospect camp scrimmage which includes Martin Necas.
Check out also my external ‘reading list’ for Necas from shortly after he was drafted.
AHL Goalie coach Paul Schonfelder
Also buried underneath the headline news was the announcement that the team had hired Paul Schonfelder as its new minor league goalie consultant. Schonfelder’s background and qualifications are detailed in the team’s news release.
Schonfelder replaces Curtis Joseph though possibly in a slightly different role. Joseph was more generally a “goaltending consultant” and tasked with working with the minor league netminders but also the Hurricanes’ junior and college prospects. As I understood Joseph’s role, he was not based in Charlotte but rather worked part-time doing different stints with different goalies in different places. I hope to find clarification on in Schonfelder will be a full-timer, or close to it, in Charlotte.
At a basic level, I think this makes sense given Francis’ direction in terms of goaltending. His clear plan since taking over has been to regularly select goalies and build out a pull of goalie prospects mostly with mid/late round draft picks in hopes that placing multiple bets ultimately yields a winner. With both Alex Nedeljkovic and Callum Booth who are at the top of the list both slotted to spend time in Charlotte in 2017-18, making the modest investment to have someone work with them on a full-time basis makes a ton of sense.
What say you Canes fans?
What would you want in return for the $1 million annually for four years that it would take to absorb what is left of Marian Hossa’s contract?
Does anyone see Martin Necas as a dark horse worth watching in training camp? Or will he follow the more expected path of spending a year or more developing elsewhere before an NHL debut?