Ray Shero still hasn’t made a single move I don’t like. The GM of the Devils just keeps impressing as he goes about fixing the mess that was left for him. Today he traded minor leaguers Graham Black and Paul Thompson to the Florida Panthers for 38-year-old Marc Savard and a second round draft pick in 2018. On its surface, the trade may seem a little odd seeing as Savard hasn’t played an NHL game since the 2010-2011 season. You’re reading that correct. The Devils just traded for a guy that hasn’t played in five years???? And it’s a good trade?????
Yes. It’s not just a good trade, it’s a brilliant trade. Let me explain. The Panthers want to add salary this season so they can hopefully make a deeper run in the playoffs than the first round exit they suffered this past season. They wanted to get rid of Savard’s $4M cap hit for this season so they could use it on a player that can actually help on the ice. In order to do so, they sent along a second round pick. It’s a very common practice for teams to trade draft picks along with “useless” big money contracts to teams that have a lot of cap space and need the picks to help along their rebuild.
You may be asking is it really worth it for the Devils to take on that $4M of cap space for a second round pick. Yes. A thousand times yes. Not only do the Devils need every draft pick they can accumulate, but they have loads and loads of cap space to work with this offseason. After this deal, the Devils have roughly $27.8M of cap space to use in a summer where there aren’t many big free agents to spend on anyway. This trade doesn’t hurt their ability to sign anyone at all. In actuality, it helps their ability to get a player this summer by adding another draft pick to Shero’s trade arsenal.
The Devils also aren’t even paying $4M to Marc Savard as his actual salary for this upcoming season is only $575K. So in terms of real money, the Devils actually saved a bit because Black and Thompson make a combined $1.225M. Shero also saved money because the Devils are below the cap floor. If you’re not familiar with the cap floor, NHL teams are required to spend a certain amount of the salary cap every season. Before the trade, the Devils were about $13M under the floor. By adding Savard’s contract, they’re now ~$9M under the floor. The Devils have to spend that money no matter what. What better way to “spend” $4M than by acquiring a guy that only makes $575K? It’s genius.
Now, for argument’s sake, let’s say the Devils somehow spend another $27M this summer and have virtually no cap space during the season. They will still be able to move Savard’s contract as well as Ryane Clowe’s to LTIR (long term injured reserve) where contract’s cap hits don’t count toward the overall team’s. Savard and Clowe’s contracts combined are almost $9M so Ray Shero could easily make plenty of cap space appear during the season if he were so inclined. If you want to look at it that way, the Devils really have about $36M of cap space to use up by the trade deadline.
This is one of those trades that’s a win for both teams. Florida gets rid of dead cap and the Devils pick up a very valuable draft pick. If Pavel Datsyuk does go home to Russia and leaves the Red Wings with his $7.5M cap hit, look for Detroit to make a similar deal.