PHILADELPHIA – Bits and bytes from the 2014 NHL draft that didn’t quite make it into cyberspace, but have full blog potential when compiled as a compendium:
KAP TALK To say that Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has been scouting Kasperi Kapanen for a long time would be an understatement. Rutherford made history Friday night when he became the first GM in NHL history to draft both a father and a son. Back in 1995, he drafted Sami Kapanen 87th overall for the Hartford Whalers, then 19 years later, took Kasperi 22nd overall for the Pittsburgh Penguins in this draft.
“Do you know anybody else who’s done that?” Rutherford said of drafting the father-son combo. “We drafted Sami in 1995 and he had a son in 1996. I used to watch (Kasperi) on the ice when he just started skating and I end up drafting him.”
Both Kapanens played for KalPa Kuopio of the Finnish League this season, with the 17-year-old son outscoring his 41-year-old father by one point. Kasperi had seven goals and 14 points in 47 games and Sami had 6-7-13 totals in 35 games. Rutherford said he had some very good intel on Kapanen from his father, who updated Rutherford on his son’s progress throughout the year.
“We had a good background check on him,” Rutherford said. “We were surprised he was still there at 22. We had him rated a lot higher.”
CAP TALK Fans may have been surprised at the salary cap ceiling coming in at $69 million for next season, but most in the hockey industry were not. Most teams were projecting their expenses for next season based on everything from a $68 million cap to a $72 million cap.
The salary cap is based primarily on revenues from the previous season, but there is a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows it to be adjusted for one-time revenue spikes, which came earlier this season when the league agreed to a 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with Rogers Sportsnet for its Canadian television package.
Had the revenues from that deal not been accounted for, the salary cap would have been $68 million and if they had been completed accounted for, it would have been $70 million. So why not go up by a million dollars? Well, for one reason, the NHL Players’ Association had to sign off on the salary cap and it was concerned about escrow payments. The players realize they have to place a certain percentage of their salaries in escrow, but want to avoid having to dip into their pockets again after the season to pay more if the league doesn’t meet its revenue projections.
This season the league collected 14 percent from the players in escrow and will keep between 10 and 11 percent of their salaries.
One reason why the relatively low number may have come as a surprise was the excellent website capgeek.com was using a $71 million salary cap for its team projections. The Canadian dollar, which has rebounded lately and is trading at 93.7 cents compared to the U.S. dollar, is one of the reasons why revenues were not at the $71 million mark.
Because of the Olympics, things were compressed this year with the draft, the free agency courting period and the salary cap all jamming together. Not all GMs were thrilled to learn the exact salary cap number just days before free agency.
“It’s kind of silly to have legalized tampering, which is what this is, without knowing what the salary cap is going to be,” one GM said.
WHICH LEADS US TO (LACK OF) TRADES… Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon had his own theory on why there were so few trades at the draft this year. He said he and his colleagues were too busy with other matters to focus on making deals.
“You’ve got teams talking to players and agents and you add the draft to the mix,” Tallon said. “Actually, the timing of it was not great for trades because we didn’t have any time to get to the meat of the matter because were focusing on the draft and talking to free agents. It made it difficult to get any conversations going about deals.”
DARCY THE NEXT PALAT? The Tampa Bay Lightning made an intriguing selection with their last pick, opting for Cameron Darcy of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with the 185th pick. Darcy was not chosen in either the 2012 or 2013 drafts and Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said the Lightning chose Darcy because he would have received a slew of offers to attend other teams’ training camps as a free agent.
Darcy, who turned 20 in March, played just nine games last season at Northeastern before leaving school to play in the USHL. The Eagles, who took a 10th round flyer on Darcy in 2011, were the beneficiaries. Darcy finished ninth in Quebec League scoring with 35 goals and 82 points in 65 games.
Murray likened Darcy to rookie of the year candidate Ondrej Palat, who also played in the QMJHL and went through two drafts before being taken by the Lightning 208th in 2011. Like Darcy, Palat would have had multiple invites from NHL teams as a free agent had the Lightning not drafted him.
“Now I’m not saying he’s going to be Ondrej Palat,” Murray said, “but two years ago, Ondrej Palat didn’t know he was going to be Ondrej Palat.”