One of the many questions currently swirling around front offices of NHL teams centers on the deals made at the recent trade deadline (on or just before March 23rd), and more specifically, teams that dealt assets to acquire “rental” players. Many teams doled out significant assets to acquire a key player, or players, for the stretch run and potential postseason. But what if the season and postseason doesn’t transpire?
The Capitals shelled out a second and a third round draft pick to acquire Brenden Dillon from the Sharks on March 18th. Dillon played in exactly 10 games for the Capitals before play was officially “paused” on March 12th.
The Capitals also shelled-out a third round draft pick for Ilya Kovalchuk on March 23rd, trade deadline day. Kovalchuk played in just seven games for the Capitals before play was suspended.
Those are fairly exorbitant prices for 7 and 10 games of play, should this season not resume. If you were told before the deals were made that those were the numbers of games each player would play, you would likely immediately hang-up the “red phone” and pass on the deals.
So what can be done? There is no way to go back and do a reset prior to the trade deadline, but are there other potential remedies? Possibly.
One idea being tossed around is to give some form of salary cap relief to teams that doled out significant assets for trade deadline rentals. Maybe the “rental” players could stay with their new teams at some reduced cost towards the salary cap. However, most of those UFA “rentals” will be looking for a bump in pay during the upcoming free agency period, and that could cloud the issue considerably.
Another idea would be to award teams that acquired “rentals” an extra draft pick, or picks, that closely equals a pro-rated percentage of what was relinquished in trade deadline deals. The Capitals had 13 remaining games on the schedule, which would give Brenden Dillon a 10/23 games played (43% rating) and would give Ilya Kovalchuk a 7/20 games played (35% rating). For example, maybe the Capitals are awarded an additional second round pick for the Brenden Dillon deal, and awarded a fourth round pick for the Kovalchuk deal.
These “compensation packages” would be contingent on whether the rental player re-signed with the “renting” team, or if they ended up going to a new team for the 2020-2021 season. If the player stays, no compensation would be required, but if he signs with another team, then compensation would be awarded. However, with next years salary cap likely to remain the same, or even be set at a lower number than this season, the chances players re-sign elsewhere increases.
The other possible scenario would be a “do nothing” approach, essentially continuing as-is, with no compensation for renting teams, which would hurt teams like the Capitals, Hurricanes, etc., that dealt significant assists for rental players.
Again, this is all based on the scenario that the 2019-2020 season never continues, and one of the many many reasons the league is steadfast in trying to finish the season and award a Stanley Cup, thus formally closing the financial books for the season.
One thing is certain, issues like the one outlined above far outnumber the answers and solutions at this point. Only time will tell how this all unfolds, as we are likely to see many changes to “business as usual”.
By Jon Sorensen