At the trade deadline, the Habs tried to move Shea Weber’s contract unsuccessfully. On Thursday, they were able to find a suitable move, sending Weber to Vegas in exchange for winger Evgenii Dadonov.
Weber’s situation is well-known by now. After last summer’s playoff run, it was announced that he would miss all of this past season due to several injuries with then-GM Marc Bergevin acknowledging that it was highly unlikely that he’d play again. He was on LTIR all season long with the NHL not allowing the Canadiens to make the declaration that his playing career was over.
Weber has four years left on his contract with a $7.857 million cap hit, all of which transfers to Vegas in the swap. However, the cash payout for the Golden Knights is $6 million, most of which will be covered by insurance.
To get the technicality out of the way, Montreal could still be subject to salary cap recapture if Weber was to retire before the end of the contract. The Canadiens paid $857,143 more in salary than they had cap hit charged and because his contract was ruled illegal after the fact, that amount could, in theory, come back on the books. (The full calculation is here, for anyone interested.) That said, it’s highly unlikely that Weber will retire as he won’t receive any of his salary over the next four years if he does so the risk to the Habs on the recapture front is minimal.
Vegas, you may recall, actually traded Dadonov to Anaheim at the trade deadline in exchange for Ryan Kesler who last played in March of 2019. The reason for the swap was to clear out Dadonov’s inflated contract for 2022-23 and expand their LTIR pool in an effort to get Mark Stone back for the stretch run. Dadonov had the Ducks on his no-trade clause and the deal was originally vetoed by the league. Weber will effectively serve the same purpose but instead of having Kesler’s deal which expires next month, they will have Weber on the books through 2027, locking them into using LTIR for that stretch or until they can find another taker for his contract.
As for Dadonov, the 33-year-old had a rough go of things in Vegas after being acquired from Ottawa last summer (where things were even worse). He struggled considerably for most of last year but interestingly enough, picked it up after vetoing the trade as he had 16 points in 16 games over that stretch. For the season, Dadonov had 20 goals and 23 assists in 78 games.
He is signed through 2022-23 with a $5M cap hit but has a $6.5 million salary. GM Kent Hughes has indicated that at this time, the intention is to have Dadonov on the roster next season but if he has a change of heart and opts for a buyout, the backloaded nature actually creates a limited cap hit next season of just $666,667 before it jumps to $2,166,667 in 2023-24.
Part of the goal of this deal is simply to get out of Weber’s contract but a big element is the potential to be out of LTIR, a situation the team has made it clear they want to avoid. Being in LTIR all season doesn’t allow a team to bank cap space while all bonuses achieved are carried over to the cap the following season. Of course, if Carey Price isn’t able to return, they may still be in that situation.
To that end, the Habs have committed roughly $80.5 million to next season’s cap with Price on the active roster and Dadonov on the books. The salary cap, which was just officially announced earlier today, is $82.5 million. With that remaining space, they need to re-sign Alexander Romanov and a couple of forwards. Clearly, they will need to trim some payroll in the coming weeks, especially if Price is able to come back to at least start the 2022-23 campaign. This is a notable trade from the Canadiens but it probably won’t be the only one in the weeks ahead.