The Florida Panthers acquired former Boston Bruins center Marc Savard in the summer of 2015 in part of the deal that sent Reilly Smith to Sunrise – but now, just a year later, the team has cleared up his cap space by sending him elsewhere.
The Panthers confirmed on Friday afternoon that Savard has been dealt to the New Jersey Devils, along with a 2018 second round pick. In exchange, the Panthers have brought back into their system forwards Paul Thompson and Graham Black, both of whom played for the AHL’s Albany Devils last year.
Savard, a former fourth round pick of the New York Rangers from the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, finished his on-ice NHL career in the 2010-11 season due to concussion issues. Still under contract for six years beyond his final season, though, the veteran forward – who recorded 207 goals and 706 points in 807 career NHL games before he was forced to hang up his skates – is unable to formally retire without leaving a team on the hook for his $4.027 million per season cap hit.
As the deal was signed before the 2013 CBA was put into effect, though, it is severely front-loaded; while Savard made $7 million in actual salary in each of the first two years of his deal, he’ll only make $575,000 in true money in the final year of his deal this season. That gives the New Jersey Devils a $4 million cap hit (presumably to help them reach the cap floor) without having to shell out the actual money; for a team that still sat well below the floor before acquiring Savard, that should help them budget-wise.
The Florida Panthers, on the other hand, had to shell out a second round draft pick in the deal – but freed up over $4 million in cap space just weeks after freeing up over $3 million in space with the deal of defenseman Erik Gudbranson. With $2.23 million left in space to reach the estimated cap floor for the 2016-17 season, it’s reasonable to assume that the Panthers will now be active in free agency.