Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rumours of a trade between the Leafs and Blackhawks

Rumours of a trade persist in the Chicago media involving the Maple Leafs. It seems the Blackhawks are one of the teams bumping up against the salary cap despite the fact that their star players are still young. In fact, they need to unload at the very least a $3 to $4 million player to give themselves a little wiggle room. Rumour has it that the player on the trading block is Patrick Sharp. Sharp's cap hit for this season will be about $3.8 million.

The team has recently signed UFAs Marion Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, and John Madden, while Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg saw a salary increase as a result of the RFA qualifying offer screw up. David Bolland and the other RFAs were all resigned, and the team is still paying out huge contracts to Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet. They are currently $4.5 million over the $56.8 million salary cap, and they have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Ladd, and Duncan Keith coming up for RFA status after this season. So not only do they need to unload salary this season but next season as well.

It is suggested that the Leafs would be an excellent trading partner because they have a fair amount of cap space remaining. As well, Sharp scored 26 goals last season which is more than any other Leaf. More important, he is an excellent penalty killer. The Leafs were near bottom of the league in penalty killing last season and that was before they bulked up.

So what would the Leafs have to give up to get Sharp? Well it won't be Kaberle because he makes more money than Sharp. But the Blackhawks are interested in defense. The name being bounced around is Garnet Exelby. He is big and tough and only makes $1.4 million. That swap would nip almost $2.5 million off the Blackhawk payroll. Some might say wll Sharp for Exelby isn't exactly fair but Chicago has few options since few teams have cap flexibility. There may be more involved in this potential deal or maybe not. When it comes to dumping salary, strange things can happen.