This summer P.K Subban got traded, and I don't even remember for who.
I could look it up - obviously - but that's kind of the point: I am a certified hockey nerd who has converted my hobby into a job; I can tell you the drat position and salary of almost every player in the league.
I remember trades.
But the price paid for the still-effective (and eminently lovable) P.K Subban amounts to the fact that whoever was willing to accept his $9 million dollar cap hit for another three years, was allowed to have him for free.
The Leafs apparently offered more than the Devils did, but the Leafs insisted on Nashville retaining salary. Despite being a relatively strong contending team, the Predators preferred to have the cap space than slightly better players.
The thing is though, Nashville, as long as they spend the money wisely, was probably right to take the Devils offer over the Leafs.
This brings me to the Coyotes.
They have recently traded some draft picks, they've got zero blue-chip elite prospects, most of their team is pushing 30 and while I assume they're banking on building a sustainable product, they are most definitely not rebuilding right now.
But they don't have the fire power to compete.
The NHL Is a game in which the team with the best player usually has the best chance to win. It's a game where the impact of elite players and goalies is massive and everyone else barely matters.
Teams focus on depth, but they shouldn't.
The focus should be on getting as many star players as you can. The Leafs are the first team in the NHL to follow through on this knowledge with a "studs and duds" salary cap structure.
Once they sign Marner, they'll have 3 players over ten million. A lot of people think this won't work, but they are wrong. They fail to understand that the real problem NHL teams suffer from is paying out money to mid-range players.
My assessment of the Coyotes is that they lack enough elite players to make the playoffs (though it's a parity league, so they've probably got at least a 35% chance).
The P.K Subban situation tells me that if you've got the money, you can probably get an elite player if you want one.
But the Coyotes are out of money.
They can move Hossa to the LTIR and regain his $5 million, but by the time that is enough to get them a good player, odds are they're eliminated from the playoffs.
But the Coyotes pay Grabner $3.35 million
Goligoski makes $5.4
Demers makes $3.9
Oesterle and Crouse are for some reason each a half million over the league minimum.
Are there takers for these players? Probably not without retaining some salary, but who knows? If there is anything we know about NHL gms, it's never say never when talking about potentially stupid moves they could make.
The Coyotes have almost 16 million in cap space spent on mid-range OK players. Grabner is pretty useful and I like him a lot. But it's better to use a rookie and pocket the difference in money for the slight upgrade he'll give you.
If the Coyotes ditched these not-quite-duds they'd have over $20 million to spend.
Are their teams who are paying elite level players big money they'd rather not be paying? Of course there are.
Just for example, Anze Kopitar is 31 and the Kings probably won't be competing again before his decline is complete. At $10 million for another five years, they'd probably PK Subban the hell out of him in a second.
In fact, taking that $50 million commitment might also help you get out of that dud of a Goligoski deal. You got a 32 year old Phil Kessel, so what's a 31 Kopitar?
That's just one example, there are probably a half dozen or so.
Bottom line: John Chayka has been creative and aggressive and he's made some good trades. If he could understand that mid-range players are useless and better spend his money, the Coyotes might be a good team.