We now live in a salary cap world and that means every roster spot is valuable and every dollar spent is crucial for building a long term contender. Even the best signings can sometimes fail to materialize into long term success for the player and team and yes executives can sometimes fall victim to the bowl of Kool-Aid. Since it is paramount that every dollar be maximized, getting maximum efficiency from a line-up is absolutely key to winning. That means trying to make smart trades and signings and trying to avoid long term deals with high cap hits where possible. With that said there will be times when a player and his contract no longer make sense. But there are times, particularly when long term deals are at play where it might seem impossible to move a bad contract, and when that happens it will take some extra creativity to pull something off. If you are interested in a hypothetical way to solve moving bad contracts READ ON!
Now I am not trying to make the claim of being a hockey genius and I don’t like to speculate from afar but for the purposes of this article I will make use of some common rumours and ideas, but I want to stress I am just making use of hypothetical scenarios.
I think a great problem for teams in a cap world is moving the sour long term deals. Usually it requires finding a team with a player that has similar term and similar money tied to the deal. When this happens it can be difficult to get the best possible deal.
For example earlier in the season everyone seemed to be talking about trading Luongo and a common potential trade that was mentioned was Luongo for Lecavalier. The thinking was Luongo likes Florida and Yzerman likes him and a scenery change for both players would be good, and they have similar long term deals. There is a great flaw to this idea because Vancouver is already deep at center and they have a lot of cap already committed to the position. Thus this deal seems like a far of fantasy, but what if the Canucks do want to deal Luongo? It is almost impossible with a two team trade model because he is a goalie and very few teams want or can take a goalie with that type of cap hit. So after some thinking I have come up with a three team trade model. Three team deals are done in pro sports but they are rare in the NHL.
For the Luongo scenario instead of just doing a straight up Luongo for Lecavalier what if a third team was brought in order to maximize the trade efficiency for all parties? Picture this; the Lightning decide they want to move Lecavalier and the Canucks Luongo. Both teams thought about the prior scenario but realized the flaw. Instead of not doing the deal what if a third team was brought in? Montreal is always the first team to come up whenever Lecavalier trade rumours start. So what if the Canucks dealt Luongo to the Lightning and the Lightning send Lecavalier to the Habs and then the Habs send about 7 million in salary back to Vancouver. It wouldn’t have to be a single player it could be two or three. Maybe Gionta and Gill just as an example. Now by using this model three teams have solved potential problems and can make a deal that could benefit them all.
Three way trading could be a useful tool for teams trying to move soured long term contracts because they increase the likelihood of a team finding suitable trading partners. A team might want a specific player but they might not have the assets needed to get that player. In the Luongo example Tampa may want him and they may be willing to part with Lecavalier to do it, but it doesn’t make sense for the Canucks to take Lecavalier. With three teams all of a sudden the deal could work.
If for example the Flames decide they want to blow it up and move a player like Jay Bouwmeester it will be very difficult to find a team willing to take a risk on him. By having three teams instead of two there is a higher chance of success. Maybe there is a team out there that would take a chance on Bouwmeester but the Flames don’t want or can’t take back what is being offered a third team would create a higher chance of a workable deal.
Gomez in Montreal is another potential beneficiary of a three team trade model and there are other teams that might be able to make use of a three team trade model. There are flaws of course the main flaw is there must be three teams all willing to make a major deal at the same time and they must all be willing to work together. Two of the three may be willing to deal but if the third wasn’t the deal wouldn’t work. With that said it may create some more interesting trade possibilities and it could work in certain situations. Even if it is never used by real GMs it may add another demension for all the arm chair GMs to think about.