Planting roots may be tough under the NHL's new salary-cap system.
At least that's the message Sergei Fedorov's trade from Anaheim to Columbus seems to send.
While some of the league's GMs may have known Mighty Ducks boss Brian Burke was quietly shopping the former 50-goal scorer, players like Fedorov's former Detroit Red Wings teammate Kris Draper were caught off guard.
"I don't think anyone really saw it coming," said Draper yesterday as the Wings prepared for their game against the Calgary Flames. "You don't really expect that, a big-name player getting traded so fast. Those are usually at the deadline when you kind of see where your team is. Columbus had to start winning some hockey games and they got a world-class hockey player."
Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter, however, wasn't shocked by the move, which he says is all about the Ducks' future.
"Well, it's a big name but it's an older player with a big contract," said Sutter, who understands Burke's vision even though many Ducks fans won't. "The best organizations have long-term visions and Brian Burke, he put that team together in Vancouver with long-term vision and it'll be the same thing there."
Draper says money may be the motivating factor in many moves this season.
"You look at something like that, it's just all about money," said Draper.
"I think that's going to play into things a lot more now obviously because of the salary cap. It's not going to be about getting players ... it's going to be how to save money."
Sutter inferred yesterday older, costly players may be the most susceptible to a sudden change of address.
"In today's game, there's a magic number. In that magic number, guys have to produce," he said. "If they don't produce, that really affects that long-term picture."
Fedorov's struggles this season -- posting one assist in five games -- made it easier for the Ducks to make the salary-dumping trade, which saves them more than $4 million against the cap.
Fedorov's $6-million salary aside, the Blue Jackets' acquisition didn't cost much. They also received a fifth-round pick in the 2006 entry draft, while parting with veteran forward Tyler Wright and prospect defenceman Francois Beauchemin. In an attempt to cut a little of their own costs, the Jackets put two-way centre Todd Marchant on waivers yesterday afternoon.
Thanks to the new NHL scheduling pitting divisional opponents against each other eight times every season, Draper and the Wings now have to face their former star in a half-dozen upcoming games.
"We've got six games against him now," said Draper. "He's just a player that can dominate a hockey game. He was a big part of our success here in Detroit. I'm sure when (Rick) Nash gets back it's going to be a pretty potent one-two punch right there."