I’ll admit up front that the larger point of this blog entry was to see if I remembered my login details for my own website (mission accomplished!).
Now that I’m safely logged in, I just want to get something out of the way, and hopefully won’t take up too much of your time.
Every year around this time, we Habs fans sit around the campfire and look for the shiniest object with which we can adorn our team with. This year, many Habs fans have set their sights on Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a guy like Weber in the lineup, even at the hefty price tag he’s sure to command. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) there’s a heavy cost to snatching a guy of Weber’s caliber away from the Predators over and above his nasty cap hit.
Most Habs fans simply assume that tossing an RFA offer sheet at Weber, and forcing Nashville – a team with its own internal budget that is surely far lower than the Canadiens – to match the Habs rich offer or surrender his services. Let’s all do the happy dance, right?
You see, there’s a reason why pilfering RFAs from other teams is a rarely used method of player acquisition. On one hand, it’s the NHL equivalent of M.A.D – mutually assured destruction. You want my RFA? I’m taking yours. And the spiraling costs will simply lead to another work stoppage. Just ask Kevin Lowe if he wants a mulligan on the Dustin Penner acquisition, or ask Buffalo how they feel about having to match Lowe’s ludicrous offer to Thomas Vanek. On the other hand, I believe that what goes around, comes around. If the Habs want to swipe Shea Weber, somebody will be all too eager to take a stab at acquiring PK Subban, Carey Price, Lars Eller, or Max Pacioretty in the very near future. Given the heavy contracts the Canadiens are already saddled with, you can safely bet that at least one of those players would be plying their trade elsewhere. Also, in the ultimate safeguard against making RFA pitches for all-star talent, there’s the little issue of compensation to the other team after they fail to match the courting team’s offer.
If you want to sign an RFA, then depending on the annual cap hit they bring them, you have to give up the following assets to the other team:
|$994,433 or less||None|
|Over $994,433 to $1,506,716||3rd round pick|
|Over $1,506,716 to $3,013,434||2nd round pick|
|Over $3,013,434 to $4,520,150||1st and 3rd round pick|
|Over $4,520,150 to $6,026,867||1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick|
|Over $6,026,867 to $7,533,584||Two 1st’s, one 2nd, one 3rd round pick|
|Over $7,533,584||Four 1st round picks|
Now we can safely assume that Shea Weber will fall somewhere between the last two brackets. The Canadiens already fairly thin on the farm, with little prime talent on the horizon. Dropping more high-end picks would be nothing more than a short-term payoff with a suicidal ending. Moreover, when you factor in that Montreal typically has to overpay free agents to compensate for the fishbowl, taxes, politics, (take your pick), it’s also reasonable to believe that Shea Weber would fetch over 7.533 million per season, thus forcing the Habs to kick back four first round picks to Nashville.
Read that again.
Sure, Gauthier could always try to recoup those lost picks in other ways, but you’ve got to ask yourself if the high cap hit and lost assets would be worth acquiring one defenseman. And as a final killshot to this fantasy, let’s remember that the collective bargaining agreement is up at the end of next season, and is sure to have ramifications on how teams dole out contracts over the next year or so. It would be similarly stupid for Gauthier to saddle himself with another fat contract while ridding himself of prime assets.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
In the meantime, I’m going to write down my username and password for safe keeping.