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Helene Elliott on the Brad May trade: cap space vs. toughness

January 7, 2009 |  2:00 pm


The Ducks were looking for salary cap space and youthful energy. The Toronto Maple Leafs wanted more toughness after they were pushed around by the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Winger Brad May, 37, wasn't playing for the Ducks, who have been adding kids into their lineup in their search for consistently energetic performances. Brian Burke, Toronto's general manager, had acquired May twice before, during his tenure in Vancouver and again in Anaheim. (Here is a photo of May after winning the Stanley Cup with the Ducks.)

It all adds up to the trade the two teams made today. It won't tilt the hockey universe in one direction or another, but it's interesting to look at the motives behind minor moves like this.

The Ducks sent May to Toronto, where he can play the 37 games he needs to reach 1,000, which he very much wanted to achieve. In return, the Ducks get a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2010 entry draft -- the condition being that they get the pick only if he re-signs with Toronto. If he does not re-sign, they get nothing.

The Ducks are about $2 million under the salary cap now, but Teemu Selanne's salary isn't included because he's on the long-term injury list. When he returns -- which won't be for a while, because he hasn't resumed skating yet -- they'll have to make a move to get to the 23-man roster limit and will be very close to the cap again.

The best decision they made this season is a trade they didn't make: If Burke had stayed in Anaheim much longer, he likely would have dealt Bobby Ryan, who was sent to the minor leagues to get the Ducks beneath the cap. Burke resigned on Nov. 12. Ryan was recalled from Iowa on Nov. 15, a day after defenseman Francois Beauchemin suffered a torn ACL and had to be placed on injured reserve.

Ryan has been an offensive force, especially on the power play. He has eight goals and 22 points, ranking him sixth among rookies through Tuesday's games even though he has played far fewer games than the top five. 

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: The Minnesota Wild's Derek Boogaard, right, winds up to hit Brad May during a game last season. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Pop-up photo: A happy time for Brad May, on the night the Ducks won the Stanley Cup; he skated with her daughter Samantha. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times