Is Trading Mats Sundin The LEAFS Best Option???

I have recently stumbled on a Q&A section discussion from Spector’s Blog on Fox sports.

He pasted a commentor’s findings, and thus lending his credence that it is valid information, that Sundin cannot be resigned by the Leafs if they decline his option.

http://community.foxsports.com/blogs/Spector/2007/01/17/Trade_Sundin_for_Defensemen#comments

The basis of the findings is that the option is a TEAM OPTION. If accepted the leafs pay Sundin 5.3 million next year, with 6.33 counting against the cap as the average of the entire contract.

If the contract is declined then the leafs owe Sundin 1 million and change is restitution. That 1+ million, under the new CBA, constitutes a buy-out of the contract. And therefore if the Leafs are declining the option, they cannot resign Sundin for 1 year to the day of the decline date.

This is where it becomes interesting.
By my estimations if Sundin were to be traded as a playoff rental, his contract and TEAM OPTION are transfered to his new team. Therefore if his new team wishes to accept the option, they are on the hook for 6.33 against the cap. Pretty expensive for a playoff rental.

However, if the Leafs trade him and his new team declines the offer, then they would presumabely be on the hook for his 1 million, and would not be able to resign him for 365 days. But the leafs could.

Therefore I ask, Is trading Sundin the best option for the leafs?
Well, to me, it is undoubtedly yes.
The leafs wish to negotiate a new contract with their captain, but cannot do that accoding to the league, until after his option year. The leafs are currently fighting a losing battle for the CBA terms to be ratified or waived so that they may negotiate regardless of his option.

Therefore, if the leafs want to resign Sundin to a new contract, to a much more cap friendly figure (Ie 1 million less or more than what they are paying now) then they must trade him as a playoff rental and hope that he does not want to stay with his new team, if they are willing to pick up his option year. The trick is how dedicated to the leafs is Sundin?
And how dedicated would he be after making it deep into the playoffs with another team?

The most frequent trade rumour involving Sundin is to the Anaheim Ducks.
A team which does have the CAP room to sustain his contract next year.
Which is maybe a reason why the leafs have not pulled the trigger on a deal yet, because they suspect that Anaheim would try to retain Sundin for next year. Anaheim’s current salary commitments are between 34 and 37.5 million depending on where you get your numbers from. And are only committed for roughly 20 million next year, a year where the CAP goes upto 47 million. More than enough room to fit Sundin.

So now there are two questions to ask.
Does Sundin himself have the right to decline the option, thus negating any problems resigning him in the off season.

And should the leafs risk trading him to another team, and risk them picking up his option, and maybe never seeing Captain Mats in maple-leaf Blue again.

My opinion.
If the leafs find themselves out of a playoff spot by the deadline, they have got to take a shot at trading him. Trade him to a conference rival if you need to, so long as we get a prospect and/or a 1st round pick for him or more.

If the leafs do miraculously find themselves in the East’s top 8, then they have not choice but to keep him. They will go no where in the playoffs without his leadership. And thus suck up his option. And risk another year of struggling for playoff contention due to CAP contraints. Assuming they do not make any other deals.

Bottom Line.
The leafs are not in a pretty position when it comes to Sundin’s contract status, and will be risking sitting outside the gates next April too, with or without him. I for one think it will be funny to see Sundin in another teams uniform, but it might be a necessary risk. 1 million can go a very long way in a salary cap era. 1 million is the difference between a 2nd line winger and a toplien winger. Or rather, the difference between a single-use defenceman like McCabe, and a two-way solid d-man like Pronger, Neidermeyer, or closer to Chara or Lidstrom.
No doubt the leafs have squandered money on overpriced defenseman, but now have the chance in the offseason to make somethings right.
But first, they must deal Sundin.
It hurts to say, as like many of you, he is my favourite leaf.
But the time has come to make a savvy move and do what has to be done. And that means dealing Sundin for a few picks or prospects.

Pros vs. Cons
The short term loss is worth the long term gain. This way the leafs would likely plummit in the standings, giving them a better draft pick this year, plus presumablely another good young forward, and antoher 1st round, or high second round pick. Additionaly, the young players we have could get more seasoning, with some real minutes, getting played to exhaustion.
In the offseason the leafs could resign Sundin to a more cap friendly figure for next season, and with a few good draftees and/or prospects to boot. Much better off then where they are now.

Only if we had a savvy GM to pull this type of deal off!

Here’s to pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams.