How the NHL’s new executive compensation system will make it costly to replace Leafs GM Nonis

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

If Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan decides to replace general manager Dave Nonis and interim head coach Peter Horachek with the best talent available this spring, it will be an enormously costly decision.

Executive compensation hasn’t been a thing in the NHL since the Peter Chiarelli drama back in 2006, but it will be again beginning this offseason. Though the NHL Board of Governors approved this change in June, more details of precisely how the system will work were reported on Tuesday.

Basically if the Maple Leafs are intent on tapping a highly-regarded coach under contract to replace interim bench boss Peter Horachek, it’ll cost them at least a third-round draft pick. More interestingly, if the Maple Leafs want to replace Dave Nonis before the 2015 NHL Entry draft with a current NHL executive, it’s reportedly going to cost them a second-round pick. 

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Read on past the jump for more.

ESPN and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun elaborated on how the executive compensation system will work during an Insider Trading segment broadcast on TSN on Tuesday evening:

(Executive compensation) is going to come into play here with this offseason, the board of governors voted it last June but didn’t quite have the language set up.

Well here is how it’s going to work: if it’s an offseason hire for either a president of hockey operations, a GM, or a head coach – it’s a third round pick that goes the other way for a guy that’s under contract. If it’s an in-season hire then it’s a second round pick, so you think most teams would wait.

For a coach the season ends as soon as his season ends, but for a GM or a president of hockey operations, the draft is the cut off line for in-season/off-season…

Last year Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that teams will have a three-year window to surrender the second- or third- round draft pick, so presumably that still applies.

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It’ll be fascinating to see how the new compensation system influences the NHL’s traditional hiring season, but I suspect the impact will be massive and for the Maple Leafs in particular. 

If, for example, the Maple Leafs were to fire Dave Nonis this spring and hire a highly regarded current assistant general manager – be it Paul Fenton, or Jeff Gorton, or Laurence Gilman, or Julien BriseBois – to replace him during the NHL’s regular hiring season, the club would be surrendering a second-round draft pick. The other option is letting a lame duck general manager run your draft table one last time, which seems awkward in the extreme. 

Awkward or not, we’re left to consider whether or not an executive or bench boss is even worth a mid-round draft pick to a rebuilding team like the Maple Leafs. Wouldn’t Toronto be better off to go with still-somehow-out-of-work-coach Dan Bylsma as their Horachek replacement while retaining Nonis and hoarding draft picks to use for their intended purpose of amassing talented young players? 

My initial reaction, frankly, is that the marginal benefit of bringing in a talented executive like Gorton or BriseBois or Detroit Red Wings special assistant Kris Draper is very probably inferior to the value of a top-60 draft selection…

We can debate marginal value and the wisdom of surrendering draft-pick wealth and future assets for front office and coaching talent once we see the wording of the new rule in full. For now one thing is certain: that executive compensation will have a dramatic impact on how Maple Leafs president Shanahan approaches this offseason. 

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    • Maximum Taco

      There’s a 3 year window, so you can give up future picks. Doesn’t have to be a pick from this draft.

      Also how can you guys think this is an April Fools? There’s links in the article to articles published in JUNE on the Score. That article has embedded tweets from Elliotte Friedman again from JUNE. There’s also a link to a TSN video. That means that if this is an April Fools, the Score, TSN and Sportsnet are ALL IN ON IT. Do you seriously think that’s what’s happening here?

      Do you seriously think The Nation Network has the kind of clout to get the Score, Sportsnet and TSN to not only play along with their April Fools jokes but to plant fake news articles from 9 months ago and film an entire fake segment? Is that the length of this April Fools joke? That it was being planned IN JUNE for mere hours of payoff?

  • i would give up my entire life savings to get nonis out of here. there’s no price on making him disappear for good! i’m sure every leaf fan agrees and would give mlse the money they don’t need to get rid of this potato forever.

  • Isn’t this saying it will only be costly if we fire nonis for someone who is already under contract? So really, if we fire Nonis and give Babcock the GM/Coach status that he apparently covets, we wouldn’t actually be penalized because Babcock’s contract expires this year. This would only hurt the Leafs if we were stupid enough to hire someone already signed with another team for next year, correct?

    • The issue is that the vast majority of coaches/GMs are under contract.

      Babcock is an exception because he’s technically a ‘free agent’ this offseason. Fired coaches and executives, like Bylsma (unemployed) or maybe McLellen (if he were axed) would not require the Leafs to give up compensation.

      But what if the Leafs wanted another team’s Assistant General Manager or front office executive? If they fire Nonis and add them before the draft, it’s a 2nd round pick. After the draft, it’s a 3rd round pick.

      For coaches, as Thom stated, it’s a second during the season, and a third as soon as that coach’s team either misses or is eliminated from the playoffs.

      Point is, there’s way, way, way more qualified people (quantity-wise) currently under contract than there are who are unemployed.