As we’ve mentioned in a number of posts recently, the Leafs are a team with a lot of cap flexibility and basically have an endless flow of money, so expect them to continue this trend of taking on dead money to accumulate other assets up to the deadline and into the summer. Already we have Torres, Cowen, Greening – players with short term but problematic cap hits – and there’s likely more on the way.
Another player that fits this bill is Bryan Bickell out of Chicago. He’s currently in the AHL and carrying a tag of $4-million annually, which the Hawks obviously want to get away from, especially since they’re always looking to keep loading up for a Cup run. They’ve already been linked to some big names like Andrew Ladd, Eric Staal, and Loui Eriksson.
According to Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star, the Leafs have asked about acquiring Bickell, no doubt proposing to Stan Bowman that they’ll take him off the Hawks’ hands and give them some cap relief into next season. But that’s going to come at a price, and Lamoriello will be looking for a decent draft pick, prospect, or young roster player to make it worth it.
Toronto could also help Chicago out even more in the short term, as P-A Parenteau would be a nice fit for the Hawks as a rental, so perhaps a bigger deal can take shape.
As for exactly what Bowman could toss in to get relief from Bickell’s contract, it’s tough to say. The Hawks have some promising young players on their roster, most notably Teuvo Teravainen, but he’s obviously a major longshot and would have to be part of something much bigger.
There are some other prospects in the minors, like Marko Dano, Mark McNeill, and Ryan Hartman, who would probably be more logical targets in a deal like this. Otherwise we’re talking draft picks, and the Hawks own eight this season (six of their own, and picks from Columbus and Florida).
A deal like this would make a lot of sense for the Leafs since it aligns with their plan of essentially buying assets with their cap space. General managers have talked about using this tool in the past, but it’s great to see one finally put it to work.