Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Blackhawks end goalie charade
KHL could take Khabibulin off books

Tallon and the Hawks remain in a holding pattern with Khabibulin as they wait for his agent, Ron Grossman, to negotiate with the Russian Kontinental Hockey League. A decision on whether the sides work out a loan agreement or Khabibulin stays with the Hawks will be decided by Wednesday at 3 p.m., when the Hawks have to turn their roster into the NHL.
This process of stashing salaries in the Russian league is absurd, and something the league should outlaw as soon as possible. If Chicago can dump all $6.75-million of Nikolai Khabibulin's ridiculous contract in one fell swoop, it makes the notion of a hard cap a complete farce.

Teams should be forced to buy out players or live with their bad contracts.

The Blackhawks have some serious cap concerns, something that led to a slew of demotions earlier today while they wait on the KHL to take their headache off their hands:
The Chicago Blackhawks have assigned defensemen Cam Barker and Aaron Johnson and goaltender Antti Niemi to the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs. In addition, the Blackhawks have released center Kevyn Adams and center Joakim Lindstrom has been claimed on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks.
Niemi had a good camp and they'd like to see him in the backup goaltender's role. Barker, meanwhile, is an up-and-coming youngster on the blueline and someone they'd definitely have on the team if not for the cap crunch.

His contract includes several large bonuses that take his cap hit to about $2.8-million, which does not fit on the roster at the moment.

Losing Khabibulin's contract would allow for both Barker and Niemi to play for the 'Hawks this season and also for the team to add $3- or $4-million more salary, likely in the form of a second-line centre.

Here's hoping Khabibulin stands his ground.
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10 Comments:

At 4:03 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

The flip side to this argument is that Barker would be on this team with Khabibulin if it weren't for the possibility of the CBA being opened up at the end of this year. The Hawks have three key players who have significant bonus packages in their contracts. In any of the previous 3 years, they'd be able to ice the team they wanted due to the bonus coushin (with Khabibulin). This year, they can't.

 
At 4:09 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger choch said...

I don't agree that this is a cap issue, although it does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Consider thst khabibulin's cap hit would also come off the books if he were assigned to the ahl. What this would save Chicago is actual dollars, something that is only an issue for some clubs. But from a cap perspective, why should rich teams be able to hide salary while poor teams looking to avoid paying millions to a guy riding the busses be stopped?

 
At 4:17 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I don't think we're going to see any teams stashing $7-million players in the AHL, but I see what you're saying.

At least then the cash is still being paid out and it affects the team's bottom line in some way. Shuttling guys out to Russia is the perfect solution given the situation.

 
At 4:23 PM, October 07, 2008, Anonymous Anshu said...

I agree with James that offloading contracts to Russia is an indirect violation of the cap.

And, I suspect if this catches on, it will lead to salary escalation. If I can dump some or all of a players salary before the end of the term of the contract, I'll be more likely to sign guys to bigger money deals hoping I can dump at least some of them a year or two in the future.

Clearly, Bryan Murray should have got that Russian team to take all or most of Emery's current contract off the Sens books, rather than buying him out and taking a cap hit.

 
At 4:28 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

I have to think that no team in the KHL would match Khabibulin's NHL salary. Is there a chance the Hawks will top up whatever he gets there as part of this "loan agreement"?

Do independent minor league teams ever pay a portion of an NHL property's salary?

I have to agree with choch - this isn't salary cap evasion, it's just salary evasion. Maybe the NHLPA will get creative and count KHL "loan agreements" as a source of NHL revenue...

 
At 4:50 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger wade little said...

What a joke. Two kids play extremely well for the club while some asshole with an albatross contract is playing with the club.

Hate to say it, but I see history repeating itself with Huet's contract too.

Look for Barker to get the first call up. Hendry and Sopel have been suspect in the pre-season - I think Hendry is on a two-way contract too.

 
At 4:50 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger choch said...

See, the way I see it it's better that teams like Chicago can get out of the actual dollars here. Otherwise we're back to rich teams able to "buy" their way out of bad contracts while teams just barely making a profit cannot afford to.

Ideally what we'll see is a limit on "burried" contracts - whether in the ahl or overseas. Perhaps adjusting The 'over 35' rule or by requiring vets of a certain age to be In half price waivers before they can be removed from an active roster.

 
At 8:32 PM, October 07, 2008, Anonymous RSM said...

As Adam C suggests I would suspect that part of the contract cost will still be with the Hawks, but off the cap books as such. No KHL team can afford to pay him that salary, or should be stupid enough to want to pay it all - anyone negotiating with the Hawks knows they have them over a barrel.

As for this being salary evasion or whatever. I think the league and the game is better served by the Hawks icing their best team, if they have to pay extra to do so - i.e. put 6.7m in the AHL or KHL or wherever, that's fine if they can afford to do so. Yes, this removes some level of 'parity', but on the other hand it may serve clubs in general to be more careful of the contracts they hand out and achieve parity and/or success through other means than overpaying for albatrosses.

 
At 9:14 PM, October 07, 2008, Blogger Leather McWhip said...

Wade ... I feel your pain. I've been a Hawks fan for 25 years. But Khabibulin isn't to blame in any of this. He's not an asshole for saying to Tallon, "Uhhh ... ya, sure, I'll take 6.75 million for four years." And he's not an asshole for preferring to stay in the NHL over the KHL. He's a goalie who got a ridiculous contract because a team was desperate for change and a GM tried to initiate it without any real direction.

I get pissed when people take this out on Khabilbulin. Find fault with his play, fine, but not his contract; that's Tallon.

 
At 9:56 PM, October 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it hypocritical that the NHL allows these teams to dump salaries to the KHL.
Let's see. Dumping bad contracts to a renegade league, okay as long as its the Devils...
Taking players wives and families to Florida over Christmas violation of salary cap...Montreal 2007.
As long as there are two sets of rules in Buttman's NHL, I'm fine with it.

 

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