Look for the Sharks to be cheering hard for the Devils to miss the playoffs this season, then bottom out in 2007-08.
That's because the conditional first-round pick the Sharks received for taking on retired defenseman Vladimir Malakhov from the Devils will depend on whether or not the Devils make the playoffs in 2006-07.
Should the Devils miss the playoffs this season, the pick will be awarded to Sharks in 2008. If the Devils make the playoffs this season, the Sharks will have to collect on it this June, meaning the pick would be no higher than 15th overall.
Therefore, it behooves the Sharks, from a long-term standpoint, to hope the Devils miss the playoffs this season, then miss again in 2007-08 and are among the worst teams in the league.
Whatever the case, these kinds of deals are going to become far more commonplace in the NHL. In fact, don't be surprised if the Sharks, assuming Malakhov stays retired, deal him to another team with lots of cap room at the deadline if the Sharks are making a run for the Stanley Cup and need to add payroll. After taking on Malakhov, the Sharks are currently at about $41 million.
Since none of the teams acquiring Malakhov actually has to pay him because he's retired, it's just a matter of having available cap space.
Meanwhile, sources from around the league say it's certain Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will be granted a Long Term Injury exemption from the league on Alexander Mogilny, meaning the Devils will have saved themselves $7.1 million to get well under the cap so they can sign 48-goal man Brian Gionta, defensemen David Hale and Paul Martin and backup goalie Scott Clemmensen.
If Lamoriello can pull all this off after the way things looked a week ago, he truly is a genius. Not long ago, the Devils looked as though they would be the NHL's first salary-cap casualties, but Lamoriello has managed to find a way out of the mess, displaying the kind of acumen that has made him arguably the best GM in the league.
DANGEROUS ICE: Word from the Toronto Maple Leaf players is the plethora of injuries the team suffered in training camp is due to the deplorable ice conditions at the Air Canada Centre.
And that's a huge problem, considering the fact the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association haven't even laid down a floor yet.
Â“Talk to any guy in our room and he'll probably tell you that it's the worst ice they've ever played on,Â” said one Maple Leaf player. Â“They have to do something about it.Â”
Nik Antropov, who left the Leafs final pre-season game after catching rut in the ice, was the latest casualty (Although, you never really can tell with Antropov). Staffan Kronwall suffered a substantial tear in his right ankle in the first pre-season game and both Michael Peca and Darcy Tucker have been out of the lineup with hip flexors.
The ice was reportedly so terrible for the Leafs first pre-season game Â– which came one night after a wresting event - there were some in the organization who wondered whether it was worth risking the health of the players. Some of the players apparently complained quite vociferously about the state of the ice, which was very thin and quite chippy.
The ACC ice is sub-par at the best of times, but watch for more injuries to more key players if they fail to do something about it.
SHOOTOUT MAGIC: Anyone pondering the entertainment value of the shootout should be required to watch Henrik Zetterberg's goal against the Maple Leafs Sunday night.
A left shot, Zetterberg bore down on Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft, then deked left and pulled Raycroft over before sliding the puck into the net on a right-handed tap-in.
It brought back memories of the gold-medal game in the 1994 Olympics, with Zetterberg playing the part of fellow countryman Peter Forsberg and Raycroft playing the part of Canadian goalie Corey Hirsch.
That goal made it onto a stamp in Sweden. Zetterberg's won't, but it should be stamped in the consciousness of anyone who opposes the shootout.
Ken Campbell's Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey News.com. Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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