The Nashville Predators shipped out another contract today, moving team captain Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils for Matt Halischuk and a 2nd round draft pick in 2011. Arnott is set to make $4.5M this coming season, and given his injury history, he's not likely to be worth that much, but there's an outside chance this could pay off for the Devils.
The package going back to Nashville is tiny: Halischuk played 4th line opponents in his brief NHL career and gave up a lot of shots against them. His game is offensive, yet his AHL career projects to a 20-25-point season in the NHL. As with all prospects, he could turn out to be worth something, but New Jersey did not give up a player with significant present value, and the draft pick is worth a couple hundred thousand at most.
What we saw here is Nashville dumping one year of a contract that represented a slight overpay for Arnott's talent. There should be many of these deals available this offseason - they make the acquiring team better, but not proportionally better than combing the free agent market. The benefit for New Jersey is that Arnott's contract is up at the end of 2010-11, whereas a free agent with his talent level would likely demand a multi-year deal, even at age 35.