Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NHL GMs are making a mockery of the salary cap

It may be legal but clearly Red Wing GM Ken Holland has figured out how to cheat on the cap and others will follow. Henrik Zetterberg recently signed a 12-year contract for $73 million which averages out to just over $6 million per year. But the last 3 years of the deal are for only $5.3 million. So if the Red Wings decide to buy out the last two years of Zetterberg's contract (which they will likely do) then the contract really works out to an average of over $7.5 million per year. Holland has saved himself $1.5 million per season on the salary cap by tacking on those last three years.

Holland signs Johan Franzen to the same type of contract. His is worth $43 million over 11 years for a cap hit of $3.9 million. His last three years are worth just $4 million. So if he is bought out then he will earn on average $4.9 million per season and Holland saves the Wings $1 million per season of the cap.

But Holland wasn't the first. Last summer Vincent Lecavlier signed a lifetime deal with Tampa Bay for $85 million over 11 years. So the cap hit will be about $7.7 million. The contract is also frontend loaded with the last 3 years worth only $6.5 million. So when he is bought out he will earn on average $9.8 million which provides Tampa Bay with a savings of over $2 million on the cap.

Gary Bettman has expressed concern over this practice but there is nothing he can do. It is totally legal under the current collective agreement. My guess is that who ever signs Jay Bouwmeester will be offering a similar deal.