Ducks do the ECHL shuffle

I've written about nonsense like this before, but it's something that's worth hammering home again and again. The NHL needs to close this salary cap loophole, if only for the sake of the bubble players stuck on these insane assignments.

At minimum, players should have to play at least a game with the affiliate or NHL team before being yo-yoed back and forth (barring a last-minute injury, of course):

Three days after they were recalled from AHL-affiliate Iowa, Ryan and Festerling were sent down to ECHL affiliate Bakersfield for a day as part of a complicated move designed to free up salary cap space.

Under NHL rules, both had to physically report to Bakersfield on Monday.

For how long?

The Ducks weren’t certain. Both players brought their skates and gear just in case they had to take practice with the Condors, who were idle.

“We never got into the rink,” Ryan said.

— Curtis Zupke, Ducks blog

Bakersfield is about a three-hour drive, and Bobby Ryan and Brett Festerling spent the night in a hotel there before waking at 5 a.m. to be shuffled back to Anaheim for a morning practice. You can bet they weren't quite as minty fresh as the rest of their teammates (although both played well in a 6-4 loss to the Capitals last night).

The Ducks are in an insane spot against the cap, one made even worse by the fact Francois Beauchemin is likely to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Ryan's entry-level salary (with bonuses) is about $300,000 more than Beauchemin's and there's also the need to recall another defenceman in Festerling, who makes about the league minimum.

It's a good thing that David McNab's known as a top-notch capologist, because they're going to need his fine touch from this point on.

That — and a whole lot of trips to Bakersfield.

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