Smart, if subtle, move by Washington Capitals' general manager George McPhee, who let tough guy Donald Brashear go to the New York Rangers (who ridiculously paid him $2.8-million over two years) and replaced him on his roster with Mike Knuble, a 27-goal scorer with Philadelphia last season, for $5.6-million over two years. So for a few dollars more, McPhee gets what he needs - someone other than Brooks Laich to go to the front of the net on the Capitals power play - and provide a little grit for a highly skilled Washington team. Knuble was third on the Flyers last year, with 11 power-play goals and is just the sort of tweak the Capitals need to move their group forward next year.
In Philadelphia, meanwhile, the expectation is that both Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe will play far greater roles next year, with Knuble and Joffrey Lupul (sent to Anaheim in the Chris Pronger deal) no longer in the organization. Lupul was a 25-goal scorer last year, so the Flyers have effectively subtracted 52 goals from the team that lost in the opening playoff round against Pittsburgh.
By the way, there was a thought in some quarters that the Flames would not offer Jay Bouwmeester more money than Dion Phaneuf in their negotiations with the unrestricted free agent this week.
In fact, they did just that. Bouwmeester's contract breaks down this way: five years, $33.4-million, with $7-million in the first year and then four years at $6.6-million. Officially, Bouwmeester's salary-cap charge is $6.68-million, which is No. 2 on the Flames' list behind team captain Jarome Iginla at $7-million.
Altogether, the Flames' cap charge for their top eight players (Iginla, Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, Miikka Kiprusoff, Olli Jokinen, Daymond Langkow, Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich) is $43.43-million, leaving about $13-million for however many players they want to carry next year.
Shifting their farm team to Abbotsford, B.C. suggests the Flames may play with 20 or 21 players next year, two down from the minimum of 23.
If they run into injury issues - especially of the short-term variety - the Flames may find themselves in a salary-cap bind, same as last year, although Darryl Sutter continues to deride everyone who raises that as a possibility.