Here’s an insightful post from Dom Tiano about Evan Gold, who is instrumental in Boston’s ability to manage the ever-complex salary cap management reality of the modern NHL. Enjoy!-KL
Most of the credit when it comes to the Boston Bruins and their ability to sign players to cap friendly deals and the way they manage the cap goes to General Manager Don Sweeney. It is the GM’s responsibility to bring in the best possible minds to put a management team together, so in that sense, Sweeney has done his job.
But let’s give credit where credit is due: Evan Gold is a master when it comes to the cap.
Gold spent eight seasons in the Washington Capitals front office as a Hockey Operations Assistant mostly responsible for salary cap analysis and contract research.
In October 2015 Sweeney hired Gold to become the Bruins Director of Legal Affairs for Hockey Operations. His duties included salary cap analysis, CBA interpretation and compliance, roster planning, and handling of any arbitration cases.
In September 2019, Sweeney assigned Gold the extra duties of Assistant General Manager when he promoted Scott Bradley to Senior Advisor to the GM. The extra duties (not that he wasn’t already) had Gold more involved in contract negotiations and trades. He also took on a bigger role in the scouting department both at the professional and amateur levels.
Some of the subtle little moves regarding the cap are not noticed by the average fan. The Bruins are one of those teams that like to spend to the cap and sometimes those subtle little moves, like a paper transaction sending a player to the AHL and back to “buy” some cap space are hard to understand.
The handling of the David Backes deal that involved salary retention on the Bruins part has to fit into the bigger picture. And I am sure Gold had a big picture in mind when the deal was done. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America and everything changed in the cap structure because of the uncertainty around the cap.
The Bruins will be paying Backes $1.5 million to play for the Anaheim Ducks next season. You can rest assured that when the cap was announced to be $84-$88 million for next season, that was taken into account. But now that the cap will remain the same at $81.5 million, or even drop, how do you make up that $1.5 million?
Enter the Jaroslav Halak deal announced yesterday.
Since Halak will be 35 years of age when his contract takes effect, it is deemed a 35-plus contract and thus eligible for performance bonuses (only 35-plus and entry level players are eligible to receive performance bonuses).
It is believed the Bruins wanted to bring Halak back for next season, but he was going to get a raise on the $2.75 million he is receiving this year, and someone was going to pay it. So, they had to find a way to lesson the impact of the Backes retained salary, while at the same time give Halak the money he deserves.
So, what the Bruins did was sign Halak to a contract worth a base salary of $2.25 million with an easily attainable performance bonus of $1.25 million. All he has to do is play in 10 games and that will bring his salary up to $3.5 million.
Effectively, what that does is if the Bruins are at the cap limit for 2020-2021, it allows them a performance bonus overage (up to 7.5% of the cap) and thus can carry the bonus overage over to the 2021-2022 season when there will be more flexibility with the cap. Tuukka Rask and David Krejci have contracts expiring for the start of the 2021-2022 season and if brought back, will surely come with a smaller cap hit.
By constructing the Halak contract in this way, they have basically washed out the Backes retained salary.
I have often referred to Gold as one of, if not the best salary cap gurus in the NHL. Mainstream media has caught on, ranking the Bruins near the top of the NHL when it comes to managing the cap. But they still give all the credit to Sweeney.
The Bruins found gold in Evan Gold. Let’s give him some kudos.