The NHL trade deadline in a “flat” salary cap era

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Sports

Since the beginning of the 2005-2006 season, the NHL introduced a limit to how much money teams are able to spend on players. This rule was introduced to increase the competitiveness of the league and to even out the salaries. Without this, teams were able to pay players as much as they wanted.  The cap limit also depends on the revenue the league generates yearly. So, the more revenue the NHL makes, the higher the salary cap ceiling. 

Unfortunately, when the NHL paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the league lost hundreds  of millions of dollars in revenue, not being able to have fans in the bubble. The NHL’s loss of income resulted in a “flat” salary cap, where the yearly limit would stay the same for an indefinite amount of time. The league made the change to allow themselves and the owners of teams to regain some of the money they lost. 

NHL clubs then began reanalyzing how they valued contracts in a flat salary cap era. This year names like Jakob Chychrun and Vladislav Gavrikov were the most popular on the market due to their team-friendly cap hits.

With the New York Rangers adding Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly being moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders obtaining all-star Bo Horvat, there are many trades that were made for this year’s deadline.  Let’s take a look at some of the major moves teams made. 

Jakob Chychrun

Being one of the biggest stars on the Arizona Coyotes for years, Jakob Chychrun has not been in the playoffs since the 2019-2020 season. Chychrun holds a 4.6-million-dollar cap hit and is a solid a top-four  defenceman. With his talent and team-friendly contract the  highly desired 24-year-old Florida native who has had trade rumours in the past was finally moved. 

Leading up to his departure from the team, Chychrun had seven goals and 28 points in 36 games and was a crucial piece for Arizona by anchoring their powerplay this season as well as logging an average of 23 minutes a night. With this fantastic stat line, the up-and-coming Ottawa Senators decided that Chychrun was the piece they needed to bring their team to the next level. 

Vladislav Gavrikov 

The Columbus Blue Jackets still needs to meet the expectations they envisioned after signing Johnny Gaudreau last offseason to a seven-year 68-million-dollar deal. As the Blue Jackets sit at the bottom of the league standings, they decided to trade defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to the LA Kings.. With one year remaining on his current deal of 2.8-million-dollars, the Russian defenceman can play critical minutes and will be looking for a sizeable payday in this year’s free agency.

 Although he has only posted three goals and 10 points through 56 games played for the Blue Jackets, his excellent defensive capabilities will be a great asset for the Kings.

Patrick Kane

The Chicago Blackhawks being at the end of an era, they decided to sell their players for assets. Their most prolific score, Patrick Kane, was one of those pieces moved. The three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane was dealt to the New York Rangers, adding more skill to an already stacked roster. The right winger is second all-time in points for Chicago and arguably one of the greatest to ever suit up as a Blackhawk. While the Buffalo-born winger’s point production has slowed from 92 points last year to just 45 through 54 games this season, he is arguably the best player moved this year’s deadline. With 446 goals and 779 assists over his career, Patrick Kane will provide elite goal-scoring and outstanding playmaking skills for the Ranger offence. 

Trade deadline winner prediction: New York Rangers

With tons of rumours and ideas of what changes teams may have made, this year’s trade deadline is like no  other. While the Maple Leafs are a close second from their recent acquisitions of Jake McCabe, Ryan O’Reilly and others, it is difficult not to pick the Rangers as winners of the 2023 NHL trade deadline. With  Vladimir Tarasenko and could potentially add Patrick Kane, their offence will be dangerous come playoff time. Watch for which NHL clubs embark on the journey of being crowned the 2023 Stanley Cup champions. 

Cover Photo via Getty Images

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