Are the Arizona Coyotes going to try and acquire the contract of Montreal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline?
On the most recent edition of the Jeff Marek show, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman said that the Coyotes have interest in Weber’s contract and might be willing to acquire it to reach the Salary Cap floor, which is currently set at $60.2M. The reason is that the Coyotes are so close to the Salary Cap this season at $75M in total Cap Hit, while only having a projected total Cap Hit of $42M for next season.
Why Trade for Weber’s Contract Now?
There’s an argument for Arizona trading for Weber’s contract before the NHL Trade Deadline. They have been rumoured to be dangling key pieces like Jakob Chychrun ($4.6M) Phil Kessel ($6.8M). They could use Shea Weber’s contract to ensure they never reach below the Salary Cap floor should they want to move on from other players whom teams have shown interest in leading up to NHL Trade Deadline.
This season, the Buffalo Sabres used a similar strategy shortly after the Jack Eichel trade, which put them dangerously close to the Salary Cap floor. They turned around and acquired the contract of unofficially retired New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk. His $6M Cap Hit ensured them the flexibility to continue selling off assets leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline and remain above the Salary Cap Floor. They now can trade pending unrestricted free agents like Colin Miller or Cody Eakin without fear of falling under the floor.
The Long Term Benefit
According to our friends at Puckpedia, Shea Weber’s contract has a Cap Hit of $7.857M for another four years after this 2021-2022 season but only has to be paid a total of six million in actual dollars during that span. That’s extremely attractive to a team like Arizona, whose new arena deal with Arizona State University will inhibit them from being able to spend much higher than 60M in player salaries for the foreseeable future.
The discrepancy between Weber’s Cap Hit and actual salary will allow the Arizona Coyotes ownership group to save millions on their payroll while their revenue potential remains low due to limited attendance 5000- fan capacity at Arizona State University. With Arizona set to be a bottom-feeder for the next couple of seasons, they will likely stay away from the unrestricted free agent market for a while, and acquiring high Cap Hits with low salaries is likely what gets them through the next couple of years until a new arena deal can be reached.