FanPost

Why I think Jeff Carter may be out the door (written mid-November 2010)

*Note I wrote this 16 games into the season, but never published it because he was resigned by Philly before I completed it.  I am publishing it as is because of the new trade rumours around him and thought it may look interesting.  Anywho remember this was written in the mindset of ~mid November  (after Philly's 16th game).  Cheers

Before I begin this post, let me apologize to any readers who think I am writing a blog about why he is coming to Toronto.  I don't believe we have the pieces to land him, I just think he'll likely be leaving Philly.

Jeff Carter is a very talented player, being the bubble player on Canada's Olympic hockey team (ultimately not making it).  He has played point per game hockey, been #2 in goal scoring, 3 straight years of 30 goals (technically the first was 29).  This makes him a very valuable player.  However with Philly's cap situation I think his biggest value will be as trade bait.  To learn why read on after the jump.

Since the recession began the cap has gone up 1.1 million and 0.6 million, so for arguments sake I will say it goes up 0.9 million (rounding up of the average) to 60.3 million dollars.  That would leave Philly with 7.986 million (we'll say 8 for convenience sake) in cap room.  This team would include (* means they have an NTC/NMC and *** Ian Laperrierre will likely not play another hockey game due to concussion problems.  That means he will remain on the cap but not be able to play):

All data from www.capgeek.com

7 forwards
Daniel Briere 6.5*
Mike Richards 5.75*
Scott Hartnell 4.2*
Claude Giroux 3.75
James Van Riemsdyk 1.65
Jody Shelley 1.1
Blair Betts 0.7

7 Defenseman
Kimmo Timonen 6.333*
Chris Pronger 4.921
Andrej Meszaros 4
Matt Carle 3.437
Braydon Cobourn 3.2
Matt Walker 1.7
Oskars Bartulis 0.6

2 Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovski 1.75
Michael Leighton 1.55

Injured:
Ian Laperriere 1.166***

RFAs (previous cap hit/last years salary)
Jeff Carter 5/5.5
Daniel Carcillo 1.075/1.075
Andreas Nodl 0.85/0.735
Darroll Powe 0.725/0.725

UFAs (previous cap hit/last years salary)
Nikolai Zherdev 2/2
Ville Leino 0.8/0.825
Sean O'Donnell 1.3/1

So they will have a cap cushion of 1.166 if/when Laperriere is put on the IR.  However, many don't fully understand what this actually means.  Philly will be able to go to the cap like any other team, once there they are able to use 1.166 on ONE player to replace Laperriere.  They cannot bank the room on the cap he saves, or use it for two players making 0.5.  I also don't think it can be used to take into account the last 1.1666 of a larger contract.  That being said for the sake of simplicity we will say Philly has it bringing there total to 9.1 million in cap room.

Okay so first off, I am assuming they don't resign O'Donnell because running with 7 D is pretty typical.  That means their D and G are covered.  That leaves 7 forwards signed and 9.1 million in cap room.  A full team is 23 players, typically 2 G, 7 D, 13 F (with one extra F or D).  So this means they need to sign 6 more F plus one more player.  We will just say they'll either call someone up, or sign a replacement level player at 600 000 (just above league min), leaving them with 8.5 to sign 6 forwards.

Of the forwards listed the only ones with real value are Carter, Leino, and Carcillo (though his isn't huge).  We'll look at Carter last.  First up is Leino.  He is a hard salary to judge.  He was signed by Detroit as a European FA with decent expectations but nothing special.  He played well his first year, but seemed a bust in his second and was traded to Philly in a minor trade.  However he turned it on in last years playoffs scoring above point per game with 21 points in 19 games and 7 goals.  He has continued that strong play with 3 goals and 13 points in 16 games this season.  If he continues to play well (not even at this very high level) and cools off to a 60+ point player he'll likely earn a 3 million dollar salary.  That leaves us with 5.5 million for 5 forwards.  Next up is Carcillo.  He is the prototypical shift disturber.  He routinely is near the top in the league in fighting majors and PIMs and knows how to get under opponents skin.  Add to that he has some decent hockey talent and he is probably worth 1.2-1.5.  However with all the fighters and toughness in Philly's system/team, I'll say they trade him.

So we're still left with 5.5 million for 5 forwards.  To resign Carter I would say he deserves at least 5.5 million (his last years salary).  For the reasons listed above he is an elite player and would demand on the open market likely above 6 million.  However as an RFA his bargaining power isn't that high so we'll be conservative and say 5.5 million.  That would leave us with 0 cap room and 4 forwards left to sign.

Now to clear up salary they'll have to move out some of their higher priced players.  The problem is many of them have NTCs/NMCs.  So if we ignore those with NTCs/NMCs, recent signings (Giroux), and Pronger we are left with the following as their largest contracts:
Andrej Meszaros 4
Matt Carle 3.437
Braydon Cobourn 3.2

Matt Carle and Cobourn have been very productive players for them.  Meszaros they brought in this year after having to play their top 4 ridiculous minutes in last years playoffs out of fear that the bottom defense pairing couldn't play well enough.  This would suggest to me they would not be happy with trading any of these three.  However in a salary capped league you need to make sacrifices, so lets assume they trade the biggest contract of them Meszaros.  That may make you think they'll gain 4 million dollars in salary room, but you would be mistaken.  They'll need to replace Meszaros, either in that trade, via free agency, or in calling someone up.  We'll assume they do it cheaply, for 800 000.  This leaves the team with 3.2 million to sign 4 players.

Now this can be done.  They could get 4 players for between 500 000 and 1 million to fill in the last 4 forward positions, but it would leave them with an incredibly weak bottom 6.

Realistically you would be looking at:

Hartnell-Richards-Carter
Leino-Briere-Giroux
JVR-FA-FA
Shelley-FA-Betts

(Note that is a scary good top 6)

Shelley is barely a hockey player and three FA/rookies you are picking up at under 1 million dollars are going to be pretty weak (unless they have more in their system I am not aware of).  After getting screwed so badly for not having the depth on D, will they be happy with no depth up front?

Before I leave you with my conclusion (trading Carter makes sense), I will acknowledge their other ways out:

1) They could run with 21 or 22 players.  Sure they can, but that is poor team management and just asking for problems with injuries/slumps/suspensions (common in Philly)

2)They could do some more minor trading (note they can't do much major trading because all of their large contracts are tied up NMCs/NTCs).

3) They could trade Leino.  To be honest this one makes the most sense for me.  They could probably get some decent stuff for him and will be left with that cap room.

4) They can simply run with that line up, of cheap players.  I think this is a bad idea and they will suffer.

5) Trade one of their NMC/NTCs.  They did trade Gagne this summer, but they got garbage in return.  If they can convince one of their NTCs/NMCs to move (namely Hartnell or Briere) this could be their solutions.  But depending on a player to waive an NTC is not a good policy.  Just ask leaf fans about the Moskoka 5.

To me the answer is to trade Carter.  They can wait until the offseason (keep him for a cup run) and then get good value out of him (better than Kessel value).  They still have a great top 6 and it will give them some great pieces in return.

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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