Fedorov deal: Pros, cons

November, 16, 2005
I interrupt my division-by-division look around the NHL to chat about Tuesday's trade/salary dump between the Mighty Ducks and Blue Jackets that sends Sergei Fedorov (and a fifth round pick in 2006) to Columbus for journeyman grinder Tyler Wright and little-known rookie defenseman Francois Beauchemin. Here are the pros and cons for both clubs.

Pros: New GM Brian Burke gets to build the team with his blueprint. In the offseason, he went out and signed Norris Trophy winning defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who pulls down $6.75 million. Burke doesn't think you can have two $6 million players under the new economic system. And, he's probably right. In this deal, based on the salaries of Wright ($947,132) and Beauchemin ($500,000), Burke saves approximately $4.5 million. In a phone conversation, he told me plans to re-invest that money when the right player or players are available. That could be via another deal during the season or next summer during the free agent period.

Also, sources close to the team felt the new management group had soured on Fedorov. One Ducks insider said the club was worried it might not get another chance to deal Fedorov because of his contract. The Ducks didn't want to miss the opportunity to move the money.

Cons: What kind of message does this send to the team? When it comes to the game on the ice, you can't fool the players. And, the players in that Ducks' locker room know this trade doesn't make them a better team. In the best-case scenario, this team was going to struggle to earn a playoff spot in the West. Without Fedorov, that struggle got a lot tougher. And, the Ducks' players know it.

Pros: If you want to win in the NHL, you'd better be strong up the middle. The Blue Jackets, the lowest scoring team in the league (averaging less than two goals per game), are terrible up the middle. Fedorov is a legitimate No. 1 center. His arrival pushes the club's other centers into positions where they have a chance to be more successful.

Fedorov does have a relationship with both GM Doug MacLean and coach Gerard Gallant that goes back to their time together in Detroit in the early 1990s. MacLean said he was "pumped" after speaking to Fedorov on Tuesday. MacLean said he sensed Fedorov was truly excited to come to Columbus and take on a new challenge in his career. That's important. You don't want players that don't want to be with you.

The Jackets' GM says Fedorov can be a mentor to young forwards like Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev. MacLean wanted to add an experienced top six forward to his lineup. He accomplished that mission by acquiring Fedorov, who'll bring a boost to a locker room that could certainly use one.

Cons: Money, money, money! The Blue Jackets assume the remainder of Fedorov's contract, which pays him $6.08 million during this season and in each of the next two seasons. In the final year of Fedorov's deal (2007-08), he'll be 38 years old. Will he be worth that kind of money? With the deal, Columbus has now committed $16.08M to three players (Fedorov, Nash and Adam Foote) through the 2007-08 season. If they were to spend to the $39M cap limit, they would have $21.92M to spend on the rest of their roster.

Fedorov, who could play against the visiting Blues on Wednesday night, has been dealing with a nagging groin problem. He has played just five games this season, tallying one assist. Thus, MacLean is taking a risk that Fedorov can stay healthy and regain his all-star form. In the new salary-capped NHL, that's a pretty big risk.

The addition of Fedorov pushes the Blue Jackets toward the high limit of the cap. That's more than they want to spend. MacLean says he'll be making a couple of other moves to lower his cap number. One such move might be to place veteran C Todd Marchant on waivers. Marchant is the club's fourth highest paid player, earning $2.47 million. He's got one more season, plus a team/player option for the 2007-08 season. MacLean wouldn't comment on whether or not he was going to put Marchant on the waiver wire. If he does, there probably won't be too many takers at that price.





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