Kent Hughes has a major advantage: He could strike hard in his next transactions

Published December 15, 2022 at 9:00 PM

This week, Gary Bettman revealed some key news for many National Hockey League general managers when he announced that the salary cap would only go up by $1 million for the upcoming season.

This is nothing to help the league's GMs who are already struggling to make deals. Knowing now that they won't have any extra leeway for next year, this could negatively influence potential trades.

On this topic, Darren Dreger recently revealed the frustration of league officials who want to improve their roster. The TSN tipster cited Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin, who is currently very aggressive on the market.

"I talked to Bill Guerin and he's frustrated, but he's an aggressive GM. He wants to do something. The reason he's frustrated is that other GMs just don't seem to want to get active in that direction. A lot of that has to do with the salary cap." - Darren Dreger

As Marco d'Amico of MTL Hockey Now reminds us, the situation won't be any better at the trade deadline. His explanation is this: in recent years, teams waited before trading in order to increase their payroll, as Marc Bergevin did by recalling and sending back players from Laval.

However, this strategy will not be possible this season for many teams in the league, as half of the teams, 16, are using the Long Term Injury List (LTIR), in order to increase their payroll. This tool is being used more than last season, to when 7 to 10 teams used this strategy.

The Tricolore is one of those teams using the LTIR, but the team has a big advantage, as D'Amico mentions.

"Speaking of Montreal's cap situation, the Canadiens are currently sitting at $2.57 million in LTIR cap space right now with 23 healthy players on the roster.

However, Sean Monahan and Brendan Gallagher are still counting against the cap at the moment, meaning the Canadiens are essentially paying for a 25-player roster when they only have 23.

When either Gallagher or Monahan returns, it's safe to assume that Rem Pitlick will be sent to Laval, saving the Canadiens $1.1 million. But what happens when the Canadiens are healthy?

Montreal's true maximized cap space at the NHL trade deadline will be up to $4.5 million, as they would save $1.1 million in salary for every contract they award to the Laval Rocket or place in the tank." - Marco D'Amico

We must also add that Kent Hughes will have nearly $20M that will be released at the end of the season, while four important players will become free agents, namely Jonathan Drouin, Evgeny Dadonov, Sean Monahan and Paul Byron. And let's not forget that the CH still has the possibility of withholding salary on three players according to the collective agreement.

The last important factor not to neglect with the CH is time. Hughes is in no hurry to deal, given the transition season they are in. They will be able to take their time, look at the desperate teams and bid on them. Kind of like Hughes did last year with Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak and Artturi Lehkonen.

So there are several things that potentially offer Kent Hughes the opportunity to hit another home run, like with Ben Chiarot, to speed up the rebuilding process.

December 15   |   39 answers
Kent Hughes has a major advantage: He could strike hard in his next transactions

Who do you think is the most likely player to go first?

Joel Edmundson820.5 %
Mike Hoffman1025.6 %
Evgenii Dadonov923.1 %
Sean Monahan1230.8 %
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