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Here’s the deal with retaining salary in trades

Jan 8, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT

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More details of the NHL’s new CBA were unearthed on Monday, with a big one — teams gaining the right to retain salary in trades — getting plenty of reaction across the league.

The rule, as according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

A club cannot absorb more than 50 percent of the players’ annual cap hit/salary in any trade. Any NHL club can only have up to three contracts on their payroll in which the contract was traded away under the retaining salary proviso.

Also, only up to 15 percent of your upper limit cap amount can be used up by the money you have retained in trades.

Take, for example, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who has two years remaining on his four-year, $27.6 million deal — he’s owed $6.9 million in salary annually and carries a $6.9 million cap hit.

Now, say the Sharks want to trade him to Montreal. (NOTE: Marleau has a no movement clause. ANOTHER NOTE: Montreal is mentioned solely for example purposes.)

The new rule would allow San Jose to absorb $3.45 million in both salary and cap hit to facilitate the deal, leaving Montreal to pay the remaining $3.45 million.

Pretty interesting, huh?

The key part is it’ll allow much more flexibility when it comes to flipping players, especially guys with big price tags.

In the case of Marleau (who’s been the subject of trade rumors for a while), one sticking point has always been his contract — he has the NHL’s 23rd-highest cap hit for 2013-14, a hefty chunk of change that potential suitors would have a tough time swallowing.

Chop the incoming cap hit in half, though, and the deal suddenly becomes much easier to stomach.

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