Welcome to Hockey Central: Ask the Insiders where fans get to pick the topics. This week, the Insiders answered several questions including whether the Flyers will buy out Ilya Bryzgalov; is there a way the Canucks can trade Luongo without keeping salary; and what they attribute the sudden surge in Alex Ovechkin’s game to.
Mike asks: With the Flyers acquiring Steve Mason, what are the odds Ilya Bryzgalov gets bought out?
Doug MacLean: Mike, I don’t think they buy out Bryzgalov. The money is simply too much and too many people would look bad. It is not a good situation. They certainly hope Mason is a good compliment but Steve needs to regain his game and I think he is a year or two away from being a number one goalie.
Neil Smith: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flyers use their “amnesty buyout” to eliminate the contract of Ilya Bryzgalov. His contract runs through 2020 with a cap hit of $5.66 million each year. That’s tough to swallow even for Comcast and Mr. Ed Snider. I don’t think the acquisition of Mason will have any effect on the buyout decision by the Flyers.
Jeff Marek: It’s a great question and you do wonder if Mason is there to push Bryzgalov or push him out the door. It’s no secret the Flyers would love a redo on the nine-year $51 million deal they signed with the Russian netminder but a buyout on a ticket that large (mind you it would be two-thirds the remaining money on the deal spread out over 14 years and wouldn’t count against the cap) is asking a lot out of your owner. Ed Snider didn’t get rich by throwing money away. I think before anything happens with Bryzgalov, Mason first needs to demonstrate that he can be a number one goalie in this league. Is the remaining few games in this season enough time to prove that? Probably not. But if Mason pushes Bryzgalov out of the crease next season, the compliance buyout window is still open for one more year (provided they haven’t used up their allotted two) and the temptation would be there to cut strings with “Universe”.
Steve asks: If you believe the rumours, the Canucks refused to keep any of Luongo’s money in a trade. Do you really see a scenario where Luongo is traded and Canucks don’t keep any salary?
Doug MacLean: They will have to keep money or they will have to take back a bad contract from another team. The challenge with keeping money is that it’s there for the next nine years and counts against cap. Not good for the Canucks as they need cap space.
Neil Smith: It’s hard to believe that any team would take the Luongo contract at full value. He is still an elite goalie in the NHL however there are only a limited number of teams that could afford Roberto’s deal and an even fewer number that could afford the full deal and have a need for a number one goaltender. I think Mr. Gillis in Vancouver is in a very difficult situation as it pertains to this contract and I’m anxious to see how this drama unfolds.
Brian Lawton: As you say they are only rumors but do I see a scenario where the Vancouver Canucks trade Roberto Luongo and don’t keep any of his salary? No!
However, what you need to understand about the Vancouver Canucks is that they are a very wealthy team. Vancouver is an amazing city and their fans are as passionate as any in the league. The team has a great building and does very well as a business. So the question is would it be better to A) trade him in a hockey trade like Buffalo just did with their Captain; B) give Roberto Luongo away or C) buy him out.
Let’s look at each one of the options.
In order to trade Roberto Luongo in a hockey trade the following example is hypothetical as to what would happen. The Canucks trade him to say the Florida Panthers for Nick Bjugstad (a past rumoured deal). The Canucks would most likely need to take back a contract let’s say Ed Jovanovski and most likely pay a portion of Roberto’s salary. Let’s say 20 percent. I believe this is the only way Vancouver gets asset value back because of what just happened with Jason Pomminville on his trade to the Wild. It was a trade that brought back good value for Buffalo but not without them paying for it literally. The amount Buffalo reportedly paid in salary is roughly $800,000 not including this year’s portion. The return for Buffalo was pretty strong in my opinion. A first, second and two good prospects. That is a hockey trade with a twist of the new CBA.
That is a good deal for the Wild and a good deal for Buffalo as they have lots of money and cap space and the return is good.
Vancouver has lots of money but they don’t have lots of cap space so if they have to pay part of Luongo’s salary they maintain that on their cap space ledger. Whatever amount they pay they keep. The return is good but the loss of cap space is devastating for them especially if they have to accept a player back that has unfavourable term and salary So this option is not great in my opinion for the Canucks who already have what is described as a maxed out salary cap team.
Believe it or not just to give Roberto Luongo away is a better option as they don’t have to lose any salary cap space or take a player or two they don’t want back. The analysis becomes would you pay the loss of your cap space plus millions of dollars in a player you don’t want for a good asset like Nick Bjugstad (who comes at a cheap price in the NHL because of his ELS contract).
The answer is no. It is not worth the asset because the cap space is so valuable to a team like Vancouver that exists to try and win at all costs every year.
Lastly, just buy him out. This one sucks as you have to inform your owner that this mistake is going to cost $25 million plus with the good news being the amount is payable over 18 years and zero of it goes against the cap which will allow us to field a more competitive team.
Why would anyone choose this option? Clearly, because cap space is king when you’re trying to win a Stanley Cup in the new Salary Cap era.
So as unpalatable as it sounds buying out the player is the best answer unless you can find someone so desperate for a goaltender that they take the problem off your hands. You can rest assured that every NHL General Manger has already gone through this very same exercise and the end result is that as they say “the cat is out of the bag” on this one. Especially when you consider how many goaltender options are going to be out there this summer.
So what do I believe happens? I honestly don’t know but I will be following closely like so many others. I find it hard to imagine that the Canucks will use both compliance buy-outs this summer and one won’t be on Luongo. The more likely scenario is the Canucks don’t like any of the options and they wait.
The Canucks then would use only one compliance buy-out this summer, save one just in case and do some creative work on their roster to field a team next year with two goalies named Schneider and Luongo. From there it will be a lot of hope some team becomes desperate enough with their goaltending to take on this contract as Roberto himself describes as “SUCKS.”
Rob asks: Why the reluctance on the part of Randy Carlyle to admit that Joffrey Lupul has suffered a concussion?
Nick Kypreos: Randy Carlyle is as old school as you can get. Perhaps by admitting he’s concussed he puts a bulls eye square on Lupul’s chest. I have no problem Randy not using the “c” word. He’s not a doctor any more than I am and smarter people than us should use the “c” word when assessments still need to be made. What I’m not ok with is the organization’s decision to call it a neck injury when the medical staff had plenty of time to fully diagnose him. Now I’ve had plenty of neck injuries during my career and not one of them ever caused me to forget where my team’s bench door was. Pittsburgh (Neal)and Boston (Bergevon) had no problems labeling their star players with concussions. Why does Toronto?
Sophie asks: What do you attribute the sudden surge in Alex Ovechkin’s game as he is now among the leaders in goal scoring? (Editor’s note currently tied for first with 25 goals)
Nick Kypreos: I credit Adam Oates for a lot of OV’s recent success. Not that Boudreau and Hunter aren’t’ great coaches in their own right but perhaps Oates is the first guy OV feels a real connection to based on how each played the game with pure talent. Oates wants OV in every critical situation out on the ice and isn’t shy to say it. Factor in OV maybe finally seeing the light to what others like Hunter and Boudreau have preached to him. You legacy doesn’t lie in dollars and cents but rather wins and championships.
Peter ask: What do you think of the idea floated by some fans that the NHL should seed the playoff teams one through 16? Could have some great all-East or all-West potential Stanley Cup finals.
Scott Morrison: A lot of people would like that concept, but the league wants to maintain the division set up to create rivalries and to continue to sell hope. And to keep the divisions meaningful, the standings within them have to matter.
John Shannon: In the late 1970s, that’s exactly what the NHL did Peter. And while it did you some great East-West battles, it did so at the expense of some great regional rivalries. Combine that with much larger travel expenses, the NHL and teams voted to put more of an accent on the regional match-ups. And that’s what we will see with the new realignment. My bet is that most hockey fans would prefer to see familiar teams in the first round of the playoffs, rather than ones that you have seen just once in your own building.
As for creating an all-west or all-east Stanley Cup Final, it is something I suspect the NHL does not want to happen. Larger, National presence comes with an East-West SC Final.
Jeff Marek: Personally, I love the idea mainly because it allows the potential for any two teams to meet for the Cup at the start of the season and also, opens up the option of the two best teams in the regular season to meet in the final. However, I understand why the NHL prefers the system they currently have. Admitting this is a regional sport, regional rivalries must be grown and nourished to keep gate revenue high (this is still very much a butts in the seats league). And the best way to pop a rivalry is to meet in the playoffs. Plus, as you can see with the realignment beginning next season, travel is a huge concern for the league (unless you’re the Panthers or Lightning who got punked when the league re-configured) and a 1 vs. 16 type playoff setup sets the league up for long flights in every round. I love your idea but can’t see the NHL ever going for it.
Dave asks: What do you guys think about the idea of having multiple outdoor games as soon as next season? Does it water down a good thing or do you like it from a marketing/revenue standpoint?
Scott Morrison: I am not a big fan of having multiple outdoor games. It becomes too much of a good thing and the charm and interest could begin to wane, beyond the fans of the competing teams. Leave it the way it is.
John Shannon: Dave, I would like to see the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic last for many years to come. If you add more outdoor games to the mix. there is real chance of diluting the “event”. However, with more than 20 teams angling for an outdoor game, the focus of making and impact on a local level might outweigh the national event. I guess that’s a way of saying don’t be surprised if there are more games around the continent than most of us want, but it will satisfy what the teams want on a regional level. I’m not sure that’s good for the goal of keeping outdoor games special, but it will create a revenue spike for the teams, and create a larger awareness on a regional level.
By the way, all these stories that there are games being planned in Winnipeg and Los Angeles, are wishful thinking by teams in those markets. Nothing, beyond next January 1, 2014 in the Big House at the University of Michigan has been decided.