Martin Erat just publicly demanded a trade out of Washington. Trouble for Martin Erat is that his contract is pretty large and so far his performance rather paltry - he's got a cap hit of $4.5M this season and next season. While he's owed only $6M in this time, there aren't that many teams who can just stick that salary on their team. There is, however, a way that Erat can be shipped out of town, the Caps can still be in the same cap trouble (by taking a contract back), and the Caps can pick up an asset along the way: The dual Retained Salary Transaction.
We've seen the Retained Salary Transaction a few times since the new CBA was signed in January 2013 - Kris Versteeg, Matt Frattin, Jussi Jokinen, Thomas Vanek - all are currently on new teams who are not paying their entire contract. What we haven't seen is a swap of retained salary transactions, and this disappoints me, because I think this could be quite a boon for a team. An example - imagine a team with a player like Erat who has too high a cap hit and not enough production. Let's say for the sake of argument that, unlike Marty Erat, this player lacks a no-trade or no-movement clause. They find a team who has a similar player on a similar cap hit, let's say both guys are on deals that pay them $4M a season. They swap players, each picking up half of the other team's contract. Now not only have they shuffled some deck chairs, both teams have turned what was a potential liability into a potential asset. They can keep this new player at his $2M salary, or if they don't like him, fob this new player off to someone else on half of his previous cap hit. The key to this deal is that both teams have picked up potential assets by exchanging their problem with the other team, and in an NHL where few teams have cap room to spare, it opens up more potential for future exchanges. I'm sure the union was in favor of Retained Salary Transactions - it enables some guys whose contracts would've been near-immobile to be sent elsewhere - but I think there'll be a few guys zipping around the league who aren't fans of having 3 separate teams holding parts of their contract.