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Habs Patiently Waiting to Pounce

We’re closing in on the end of the month of July and many Montreal Canadiens’ fans are getting fidgety about what they consider the lack of action surrounding their team. After all, not every hole in the line-up has been filled and some will make a strong argument that the team hasn’t improved from last year, or not enough to push them over the hump to make the playoffs… let alone become Stanley Cup contenders.

Heading into the off-season, the Canadiens had three big needs:

  • A top-4 left handed defenseman to play big minutes against the opposition’s top lines.
  • A scoring winger, preferably right handed, or a quality offensive centre.
  • A backup goalie worthy of being in the NHL.
Ben Chiarot

Team General Manager Marc Bergevin, so far, has signed two unrestricted free agents: Ben Chiarot and Keith Kinkaid. The jury is out if Chiarot is the solution as a top-4 defenseman but he is, without a doubt, an improvement over departing Jordie Benn. Kinkaid had a horrible season last year, with numbers comparable to what Antti Niemi put up with the Habs… although on a weaker team. If he can return to form, he should be good for 20-25 games this season if Carey Price stays healthy.

Salary Cap Crunch

With the news that the salary cap is not going up as high as teams expected, there are a few teams finding themselves in a tight spot, too tight for comfort. According to CapFriendly.com, there are currently three teams “in the red”, with no cap space at all:

  • Vegas Golden Knights
  • New York Rangers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins

Three other teams are within a million dollar to the salary cap ceiling:

  • Arizona Coyotes ($178,099)
  • Washington Capitals ($935,706)
  • Dallas Stars ($970,001)

Then you have the Florida Panthers, the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes, all within $2.5 million of the cap, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs – who have yet to sign RFA Mitch Marner – with less than $4 million available.

Where does Montreal sit? They are listed with just over $4 million of cap space but Cap Friendly has them with a 25 men roster. Most teams carry 22 or 23 players at any given time. Assuming that they can’t find takers for Karl Alzner ($4.625M) and Dale Weise ($2.35M) and they send them down to the AHL, the maximum they can save by doing so is $1.075 million each. So this would add $2.15 million to the existing $4 million cap space, meaning that Bergevin would have about $6 million to play with, and that’s not counting any salary going the other way if he completes a trade.

Waiting to pounce

Whether you want to admit it or not, Bergevin is a wise man and he knows what he’s doing. When he takes a risk, it is usually a low risk, as attested by the signings of Alexander Semin (who the Hurricanes are still paying by the way), Mark Streit and Ales Hemsky. Alexander Radulov was a bit more of a risk but very much a calculated one. He only signed him for one year so had he not panned out, he wasn’t tied long term with a troubled son.

There is no doubt that Bergevin isn’t done his shopping and that he’s waiting in the weeds for the right time to pounce. Like a feline, he is in hiding, patiently outwaiting his prey to come out and when it does, he will pounce into action. Like a predator, it is possible that he misses but as time goes on, teams will get more desperate to make their move. The waiting game is in Montreal’s favour, believe it or not.

Who, on the Golden Knights, Rangers and Penguins will be made available and at what price? What are the Coyotes (who aren’t usually near the top), Capitals and Stars willing to part with? With only 37 players under contract, how will the Hurricanes and Tom Dundon be willing to spend on their cap after the matched offer sheet to Sebastian Aho? How are the Maple Leafs going to squeeze Marner under their cap? Some will come knocking and that’s when Bergevin will try to make the most of it. As a hunter, the first two things you learn is patience and putting the odds on your side. The Canadiens have done that and they’re on the prowl. Be patient, Habs’ fans, and stay tuned. Go Habs Go!

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Common Misconception About Buried Contracts

As July is well underway and August is peaking around the corner, contract signatures are just slowly trickling in. Or so it seems after a busy first day, first week of free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, putting pen to paper with NHL teams. And as teams sign contracts, their salary cap hit, their payroll is climbing. For teams who can spend to the the upper limit, it has been set to $81.5 million for next season while no teams can have a combined cap hit below the $60.2 million mark.

Fans and media alike love to keep track of their favourite team’s cap situation and thankfully for them, there’s an amazing website which allows them to have this information at their fingertips. And that is only one of the tools CapFriendly.com provides professional journalists, bloggers and fans a solution to this ever complex beast: the calculations and details of everyone’s contract as well as the impact on their respective teams and other players in the league.

Because of its complexity, mistakes or misconceptions are rather frequent. One that we’ve been reading and hearing a lot lately is how much cap space teams still have available and how they can address their issues. It seems like more than a few people think that by sending a player down to the AHL, his salary disappears from his team’s cap hit. Not so fast… But before we get into that, here are a few different important terms to understand.

One-way contracts

Means that the player will be making the same salary if he plays either in the NHL or in the AHL.

Two-way contracts

Means that the player will be making a certain amount in the NHL and a lesser amount if he’s sent down.

No-Movement Clause

Player protection as the team cannot trade them or send them to the AHL (or placed on waivers) without their consent. While the player’s contract is not protected against a buy-out, teams must protect them for the expansion Draft.

No-Trade Clause

Self-explanatory, teams can’t trade him but they can send him down, put him on waivers. Teams can, but don’t have to protect those players for the expansion Draft.

Limited No-Trade Clause

Like a NTC, but has it’s limitations already negotiated and agreed to. Example, a player can have, for limitation, that he has to submit a list of a pre-agreed number of teams he cannot be traded to. He can be traded to the other teams.

Buried Contract

Sending a player down to save cap space has been, in the past, a way for teams to fix their contractual mistakes. It’s called burying a contract and in order when richer teams were “burying” their unproductive big salaries in the AHL to clear cap space. The New York Rangers did it with Wade Redden and the Montreal Canadiens did it with Scott Gomez. Many teams simply cannot afford to bury contracts so it was an unfair practice.

Karl Alzner?

But wait. Teams can no longer do it as the NHL changed the rules. Teams no longer receive full cap relief when a player on a one-way NHL contract is sent to the AHL or loaned to a team in another professional league. The cap hit relief is equal to the minimum salary for that particular season plus $375,000. So here’s the breakdown per season:

  • 2019-20: $700,000 + $375,000 = $1,075,000
  • 2020-21: $700,000 + $375,000 = $1,075,000
  • 2021-22: $750,000 + $375,000 = $1,125,000

This is what it would look like for two often mentioned Canadiens’ players:

2019-20 Cap HitSavingsHabs’ Cap Hit
Dale Weise$2.35M$1.o75M=$1.275M
Karl Alzner$4.625M$1.075M=$3.55M
TOTAL:$6.975M$2.15M=$4.825M

If both are sent down, the Habs would only save $2.15 million of the $6.975 million combined cap hit between the two. This means that the Canadiens would still have $4.825 million counting against their cap even when they’re in the AHL. The Canadiens’ cap situation counts 24 players with just over $4.8 million available. Have fun. Send players down all you want but if you’re doing it for cap reasons, don’t forget the buried contract rule.

So folks, when you try counting the savings when deciding who to send down, take that into consideration. The most a team will save in 2019-20 will be $1.075 million per player. Go Habs Go!

Featured

Quoi? Habsterix point com Français?

English further down

Comme plusieurs d’entre vous le savez déjà, Habsterix.com et HockeySansLimites.ca se sont formé une belle camaraderie. Je suis d’ailleurs un de leurs panélistes de temps en temps, lorsque le temps me le permet. Il s’agit d’un site qui vous donne des avant-matchs des Canadiens de Montréal, ainsi qu’un hebdomadaire à tous les dimanches (ils nous reviennent en Septembre).

Grâce à eux, j’ai eu la chance de découvrir un de leurs amis, Tom L.D. MacAingeal, Chroniqueur et Fondateur du site Le Hockey Herald. J’ai rapidement réalisé qu’il s’agit d’un site formidable où la qualité est de mise, un endroit où il est plus important d’avoir la bonne information que d’être premier à sortir une nouvelle. Non seulement leurs articles sont-ils de qualité, mais ils donnent crédit là où il est dû, contrairement à un autre site francophone qu’on connaît.

Pour vous, chers lecteurs et amis qui sont abonnés à mon compte Twitter, à ma page Facebook et/ou à mon blog malgré le fait que la majorité est en anglais, Le Hockey Herald m’a demandé la permission de traduire et publier certains de mes articles de l’anglais au français. Il s’agit d’une demande à laquelle je suis fier d’accepter, afin que vous puissiez aussi lire ce que j’ai à raconter.

D’ailleurs, ils ont traduit un premier article que je vous encourage d’aller lire: Habstérix et la pêche aux gros poissons.

En résumé, Hockey Sans Limites, Le Hockey Herald et Habsterix.com sont liés d’une amitié ainsi qu’un partage de travail et de contenu. HSL se concentrant plus sur l’aspect audio comme les podcast en français, HH se penchant plus vers le contenu écrit et moi… ben… je continuerai de tenter de vous distraire en anglais ici, ainsi que sur les deux autres sites.

Assurez-vous de suivre ces collaborateurs:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

Like many of you know, Habsterix.com and HockeySansLimites.ca have formed a nice camaraderie. I am one of the panelists on their podcasts from time to time, when my own schedule doesn’t get in the way. We’re talking about a site giving you pre-games when the Montreal Canadiens are playing, as well as a weekly show every Sunday (they’ll be back in September).

Through them, I got the chance to know one of their friends, Tom L.D. MacAingeal, columnist ad founder of Le Hockey Herald. I quickly realized that it’s a very neat site where quality is key, a place where it’s more important to be right than to be first at announcing something. Not only do they have quality articles, but they give credit where credit is due, unlike another French site that we know.

For you, dear readers and friends who are following me on my Twitter, my Facebook page and/or on my blog in spite of the fact that it’s predominantly in English, Le Hockey Herald asked my permission to publish some of my articles translated from English to French. This is something that I am proud to accept so that you too can read what I have to say.

As a matter of fact, they have already translated a first article and if you understand French, I encourage you to go read it: Habstérix et la pêche aux gros poissons.

So to sum it all up, Hockey Sans Limites, Le Hockey Herald and Habsterix.com have a nice complicity, all sharing content and material. HSL focussing more on the audio like podcasts in French, HH gearing up towards written content and me… well… I’ll do my best to keep you entertained here, in English mostly, as well as maybe guest appearances on the other two sites.

Be sure to follow my new friends:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

Do It… Do It Now!

We read a lot of negativity, a lot of stuff that brings us down on the internet. But there are some very good things to. It all depends on what sites we visit, what we’re accustomed or drawn to. Here’s an amazing piece I bumped into, one of the best I’ve read in a very long time, one that touched me deeply inside. A piece that spoke to me… NOW.

En français ci-bas

The day barely started that… il was already 6:00 pm… barely Monday and it was already Friday… and the month is already over… and the year almost done… and already 40, 50 or 60 years of our life have passed… and we come to realization that we have lost our parents, friends, and realize that it’s too late to turn back time…
So… Let’s try regardless, to fully take advantage of our remaining time… let’s not stop looking for activities that we enjoy… Let’s put colour in our cloudy days… Let’s smile at the little things in life that put some balm in our heart. And regardless, we must continue to take advantage or the serenity with our remaining time. Let’s try to eliminate the “after”… I’ll do it after… I’ll say it after… I’ll think about it after…We leave everything to later as if “after” was ours. As what we don’t understand is that: after, the coffee will be cold… after, priorities change… after, the charm is gone… after, health has gone… after, the kids grew up… after, pour parents get older… after, promises are forgotten… after, days become nights… after, life will be over… and after, it’s often too late.
So… Don’t leave anything for later… As while we’re always waiting for later, we can lose the best moments, the best experience, the best friends, the best family… The day is today… The instant is now…
We aren’t at the age where we can afford to push to tomorrow what can be done today. So let’s see if you have time to read this message and if you like it, copy and paste it. Or maybe will you leave that for… “later”… and you will “never” share it…
~ Boucar Diouf

En français…

À peine la journée commencée et … il est déjà six heures du soir… A peine arrivé le lundi et c’est déjà vendredi…. et le mois est déjà fini…. et l’année est presque écoulée…. et déjà 40, 50 ou 60 ans de nos vies sont passés…. et on se rend compte qu’on a perdu nos parents, des amis, et on se rend compte qu’il est trop tard pour revenir en arrière …
Alors… Essayons malgré tout, de profiter à fond du temps qu’il nous reste… N’arrêtons pas de chercher à avoir des activités qui nous plaisent… Mettons de la couleur dans notre grisaille… Sourions aux petites choses de la vie qui mettent du baume dans nos cœurs.Et malgré tout, il nous faut continuer de profiter avec sérénité de ce temps qui nous reste.
Essayons d’éliminer les “après” … je le fais après … je dirai après … J’y penserai après … On laisse tout pour plus tard comme si “après” était à nous. Car ce qu’on ne comprend pas, c’est que: après, le café se refroidit … après, les priorités changent … après, le charme est rompu … après, la santé passe … après, les enfants grandissent … après, les parents vieillissent … après, les promesses sont oubliées … après, le jour devient la nuit … après, la vie se termine … Et après c’est souvent trop tard….
Alors… Ne laissons rien pour plus tard… Car en attendant toujours à plus tard, nous pouvons perdre les meilleurs moments, les meilleures expériences, les meilleurs amis, la meilleure famille… Le jour est aujourd’hui… L’instant est maintenant…
Nous ne sommes plus à l’âge où nous pouvons nous permettre de reporter à demain ce qui doit être fait tout de suite. Alors voyons si vous aurez le temps de lire ce message et ensuite de le partager/copier. Ou alors vous le laisserez peut-être pour… “plus tard”… Et vous ne le partagerez “jamais” ….
~ Boucar Diou

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