Image from Lisa Gansky via Wikimedia Commons
The Toronto Maple Leafs have done the unthinkable: they’ve moved David Clarkson‘s contract. The Leafs take on the contract of the injured Nathan Horton from the Blue Jackets.
The NHL insures contracts up to five years in length, so Nathan Horton’s seven year contract came out of Columbus’ pocket even though even he doesn’t suit up for them again. With Clarkson, the Jackets get a player who could potentially be a third-line winger at the NHL level. As Toronto is a cap-ceiling team, they can replace Horton’s cap-hit with cap hits of an equivalent amount.
After 2014-15, Clarkson has five seasons left at $27.5 million ($5.25 cap hit). Horton has five seasons at $26.1 million left ($5.3 million cap hit).
In a problem that could have been predicted by even a broken magic 8-ball, the Maple Leafs face the potential of having David Clarkson counting against their cap long into the future at a price that greatly exceeds his value-in-use.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News explores this issue.
He notes a couple of options–eating some of his salary to facilitate a trade and buying him out. He suggests neither is ideal, as is usually the case when a team signs a contract like this one.
He looks into a possible buy-out would look like against the cap. The buy-out would cost a $20.75 million cap charge over 12 seasons. I wouldn’t suggest a buy-out is likely in this case.