Or at least that's the way it seems. In my last post I outlined which teams were in a good cap position heading into free agency. One of these teams was the Montreal Canadiens. One of the teams in a bit of a cap pickle was the New York Rangers. Today these two organizations made a trade:
To New York - Chris Higgins, Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko
To Montreal - Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, Mike Busto
Chris Higgins is a restricted free agent so New York has managed to deal Gomez and his 7.3M contract while taking back no money in return. Even if Higgings is given a contract of 3.5M per season (a high estimate) they are making significant savings. Considering their weak cap position before the trade, I would think that Montreal would be able to extact a hefty price for providing New York with these savings. I would be wrong. In fact, Montreal included one of their top prospects in the deal in Ryan McDonagh, a defenceman drafted 12th overall in 2007. The second prospect that Montreal included, Valentenko, is probably about equivalent to Tom Pyatt. Mike Busto is exactly what his name implies.
This is a confusing deal to me from Montreal's perspective. Montreal must think that they wouldn't be able to get a player as good as Scott Gomez for less than 7.3M per season on the unrestricted free agent market and that the difference between Gomez and the best UFA option is worth giving up on McDonagh and Higgins. That seems utterly foolish even if New York wasn't in a terrible negotiating position with respect to the cap. That they were, and still managed to make this trade, suggests to me that virtually any top-end contract is moveable for reasonable value. Congratulations to Glen Sather on a move I didn't think he'd be able to make. As for Gainey... he should perhaps consider changing his last name to Busto.