Cap Wrinkle Makes Jared Cowen Intriguing Trade Option

A team could buy out Cowen in the summer in exchange for a $650,000 cap credit in 2016-17.

Frank Seravalli's Monday Must Read started off with an interesting tidbit for Senators fans: Jared Cowen has a wrinkle in his contract that may make teams want to acquire him in a trade. Due to Cowen only having one year left on a significantly rising salary, his cap hit for 2016-17 would be $650,000 less than the savings by buying him out, meaning a team would get a $650,000 cap credit. (Buyout calculation performed on Hockey's Cap Buyout Calculator.) This is balanced out by the fact that he would have a cap hit of $750,000 in 2017-18. Still, in a league where most GMs are worried about keeping their jobs in the short term, this could be an attractive way to maintain the team's cap hit.

Seravalli points out that this may be most attractive to teams at risk of an overage penalty. If a team owes performance bonuses that do not fit under the cap, those bonuses are transferred to the next season. It's how the Bruins accommodated Jarome Iginla in 2013-14, but then couldn't afford to re-sign him the next season. Trading for Cowen, playing him down the stretch, and then buying him out could cancel out some of those overage penalties. Seravalli says that 10 teams are currently on track to have overage penalties next season, and with the cap not expected to rise much if at all, that could make cap panic even worse than this season. Not to mention that teams are always happy to have defencemen with NHL experience for a playoff run.

Could such a trade happen? It's hard to know. Reports are that the Sens still see Cowen's value as higher than most teams around the league. It's hard to imagine teams trading for a player solely for the buyout value. (Though this may be a practice smart teams start looking into to navigate the cap.) But it's not impossible. Most fans of the team are done with giving Cowen chances to prove himself, and would be happy to off-load him for any reason. This technicality gives us hope that maybe, just maybe, Cowen will fetch something at the deadline.

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