Has Bryan McCabe played his last game in Toronto? (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Now here's a shocker. In what can only be described as a startling development, the Toronto Maple Leafs are once again handling a player personnel situation in a completely ham-handed and embarrassing manner.
And all of this just in time for July 1 when they hope to attract the best free agents to town. I have one question. After watching how the Leafs have fumbled the Bryan McCabe file, you have to wonder why any unrestricted free agent in his right mind would ever consider playing there.
The Leafs seem to think that because they're the Leafs, they can just tell Bryan McCabe to go away. They're telling him they have no intention of buying him out, nor do they want to see him at training camp in September. Now there's a well-thought-out, mature way of dealing with an issue.
"For them to tell Bryan McCabe they don't want him is just not right," said McCabe's agent Ian Pulver. "They should either do what the Anaheim Ducks did with Todd Bertuzzi and buy him out or they should welcome him back next season. This has nothing to do with John Ferguson or Cliff Fletcher and they can't get out from under something that was negotiated in good faith by both sides."
Say what you want about McCabe or his contract or his level of play since he received it two summers ago. But what cannot be disputed is that McCabe, by signing the deal, earned the right to dictate his own destiny by insisting on a no-movement clause. He is not the bad guy here. The Leafs, however, trying to bully McCabe into going away, come out with the stink on them in this one.
And don't think the hockey world hasn't taken notice. Those who are close to Mats Sundin say the (former) captain of the Leafs is disgusted with all of this. First, Fletcher tries to deal him at the deadline, then comes out after the deadline and intimates that the Leafs could have received more for Sundin than the Atlanta Thrashers did for Marian Hossa. And now this.
It's a complete mess. Any UFA with a choice will almost certainly steer clear of the Maple Leafs. And while the Leafs were moving up in the draft to get a player they might have gotten with the seventh overall pick anyway, they basically took themselves out of the running for any reasonably priced Group 2 free agent with potential. That's because the compensation for signing a Group 2 player to a contract worth $2.5 million or less per season is a second-round pick, which is what the Leafs dealt to the New York Islanders to move up to the No. 5 spot in the draft.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
If the Leafs decided to buy out McCabe, Jason Blake and Mark Bell along with Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft, it would certainly clear the decks, but they would take a hit on their salary cap until 2015-16.
Under the provisions of the CBA, the Leafs buyouts would take up $3.98 million in cap space next season, $6.51 million in 2009-10, $6.45 million in 2010-11, $4.85 million in '11-12, $3.85 million in 2012-13 and '13-14 and $1.25 million in each of 2014-15 and '15-16.
Here would be the buyout cap amount for each player starting with next season:
McCabe: $1.2 million, $3.2 million, $3.2 million, $1.6 million for each of the next three seasons.
Blake: $750,000, $750,000, $2.25 million, $2.25 million, $1.25 million for each of the next four seasons.
Tucker: $1 million for each of the next six seasons.
Bell: $500,000, 833,000.
Raycroft: $533,000, $733,000.
Ken Campbell, a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com, is at the NHL Draft in Ottawa covering the event. His blog normally appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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