I know even suggesting the trading of Daniel Alfredsson in this town could be construed as a career-limiting move but hear me out on this one because it could make sense. My rationale is simple, if he’s going to retire, why not explore the possibility of another team picking up his $4,875,000 cap hit for next season? Alfredsson, 39, signed his current four year deal after he turned 35 which means his annual cap hit remains on the books whether he retires or not, but not his actual salary. Next season, his salary is a paltry (by NHL standards) $1 million.
The best example of a “cap trade” in recent history is when the New York Rangers dealt Michal Rozsival to the league owned Coyotes for Wojtek Wolski during the 2010-11 season. On the surface, it’s a budget team (Phoenix) taking on a contract that carried an annual cap hit of $5 million, while trading a player whose cap hit was only $3.8 million. However, Rozsival’s front loaded contract only paid him $4 million last season and $3 million this season, while Wolski’s was $3.6 million last season and $4 million this season. The Coyotes cap hit jumped by almost $1.8 million over the life of the contracts, but their payroll dropped because Roszival made less actual cash than Wolski.
The beauty in trading for a retired player like Alfredsson is the team that acquires him would only be on the hook for the cap hit, not the $1 million dollar salary. Two things are certain in the NHL every off season: No. 1, there are always teams looking to move cash, and No. 2, there are always teams just trying to get to the salary cap floor. In the end, owners of “budget teams” care more about actual cash being paid to players. The cap floor is compulsory, the ceiling is irrelevant if you never intend to spend to it.
According to http://capgeek.com/ there were 10 teams (including Ottawa) that finished this season at least $8.4 million dollars under the salary cap. There are three ways to see an Alfredsson trade as plausible:
One: Some team might see Alfredsson as a way to get to the cap floor without actually spending a dime.
Two: A team isn’t going to park the cap hit for the Sens out of the goodness of its heart. Ottawa could sweeten the deal by flipping picks (ie: The Sens send Alfredsson and a 4th to a team for a 6th round pick).
Three: There are always teams looking to move cash. Especially ones that can’t spend to the cap. The Sens could possibly find a fit for a player they could use that another team would like to shed because he makes too much. Remember, if Alfredsson retires, he makes $0. That can be music to the ears of a budget team if the Sens are willing to take back a player that actually draws a salary.
Keep in mind all of this could be moot for two reasons. No. 1, Alfredsson doesn't retire. No. 2, The Sens likely won't be close to the cap anyway. However, if it were to happen it would play out like this: Alfredsson tells the Sens he’s retiring, Bryan Murray flips his rights to another team, Alfredsson actually retires and takes whatever hockey operations job is created for him with the Sens. It’s like he never left ... except for $4,875,000 in cap space.