It’s pretty clear the Toronto Maple Leafs have no intention of playing Jared Cowen, or even keeping him with the team.
After activating Jared Cowen from the injured reserve, the Toronto Maple Leafs immediately placed him on waivers. He eventually cleared waivers, and according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Leafs are now looking to trade the 25-year-old defenceman by Monday’s deadline.
Hearing TOR has told Cowen it will try its best to trade him by deadline
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 27, 2016
By clearing waivers, Cowen is a good asset for teams looking to acquire cap space. The reason for this is that there is a $650,000 salary cap credit attached to his contract, should a team buy him out next season.
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This makes him an intriguing acquisition for any team pressed against the salary cap, like the Chicago Blackhawks. With the Hawks likely to exceed the $71.4 million salary cap this season, any overage would be added on to their 2016-17 salary cap.
However, acquiring Cowen and his $3.1 million cap hit could alleviate some of the overage fees they’re expected to receive. An ideal trade would involve the Leafs taking on Bryan Bickell and his buried cap hit of $3.05 million, plus an additional asset like a draft pick.
Either way, it seems very unlikely that Cowen will play again this season. The buyout stipulation in his contract only works if he his healthy, which makes playing him — in either an NHL or AHL game — a big risk.
It’s a bizarre set of circumstances, and something that Cowen is understandably frustrated with, but it’s the nature of the beast when it comes to professional sports.
With the trade deadline set for 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Cowen may not be the flashiest name, but he’ll certainly be somebody Leafs’ fans will have a keen eye on.