Latest Roster Moves Paralyze the Flyers' Cap Situation
Tyler J. Altemose
Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reported today that the Philadelphia Flyers have put forward Ian Laperriere on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Laperriere, out with post-concussion symptoms resulting from a shot he took to the face during last season's playoffs, has yet to play this season for the Orange and Black.
As it stands, the Flyers have both Laperriere and goaltender Michael Leighton on LTIR, but that isn't going to last much longer than the next couple of hours. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Michael Leighton is forced to come back tomorrow:
"13.9 Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan. If the Club determines that it needs more time to assess the Player's fitness to play, the Club may file a written request ... with the Commissioner's Office ... to extend the Loan for an additional two (2) games. The Commissioner, upon good cause, may approve the one-time extension. ... A Bond Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Conditioning Loan may be extended on one occasion. This procedure can only be used once during each period of time that the Player is on a Bona Fide Long-Term Injury Exception."
Since the extension granted by the league a week ago has concluded, Leights is back. But what does this mean cap-wise for the Flyers? Well, it's pretty complicated, but let's try to walk through this step by step.
Step 1: Figuring out how much the Flyers can spend
Many people know that the players are given contracts for a certain number of years (for example, 2 years, $2M per, for a total of $4M), but what is overlooked is that the cap is actually determined daily. The way this is calculated is simple: You take the salary cap for the year (we'll call this 'X'), divide it by the number of "NHL days" (which I'll explain in a moment; we'll call this 'Y'), and get the resulting daily cap (which we'll call 'Z').
X / Y = Z.
The salary cap for the 2010-11 season is $59,400,000. Again, this is 'X'. "NHL days" is the number of calendar days from the first game of the season to the last game of the season, regardless of team. From the first puck drop to the last horn buzzing, this season has 186 NHL days.
59,400,000 / 186 = 319,355.
This means that every day, the NHL gives each of the 30 teams $319,355 to pay it's players. It's sort of like an allowance. It's like Gary Bettman handing Paul Holmgren a check and saying, "Don't spend this all in one place!"
Okay, let's take a breather for a moment and let that all sink in.
Step 2: Figuring how much the Flyers are spending each day
Moving forward, we must calculate how much the Flyers spend each day. Taking into account all of the players (yes, that includes Michael Leighton, Matt Walker, Oskars Bartulis, and every other Flyer that spent games in Lavvy's dog house), we come up with a figure of $323,426 spent daily.
The calculation is simple: take the player's yearly salary and divide it by the number of NHL days. Take that number for all the players and add it up. That number is $323,426.
But there's a problem. The $323,426 the team spends daily on the players' salaries is more than the $319,355 that the league gives them every day.
So why aren't the Flyers being fined for violating the salary cap? LTIR, that's why.
How does LTIR work?
The misconception with LTIR is that any player on it doesn't count toward the team's cap hit. That is not the case. In fact, any player on LTIR still counts toward the team's cap. The exception comes in the fact that the team is able to go over the daily cap limit by the amount of the daily cap hit for the player(s) who is/are on LTIR.
Does that sound confusing? Well, here's the wording per the CBA:
"50.10(d) Player Injuries, Illnesses, and Suspensions: Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception to the Upper Limit. [T]he Club may add an additional Player or Players to it's Active Roster, and the replacement Player Salary and Bonuses of each additional Player(s) may increase the Club's Averaged Club Salary to an amount up to and exceeding the Upper Limit, solely as, and to the extent and for the duration, set forth below."
Okay, now that you're totally confused, I'll try to make it make sense for you.
Step 3: Figuring out the Flyers' spending issue
Remember how the Flyers spending $323,426 daily? And that they're only getting $319,355 from the league daily? Well, that means that they're technically over the cap by $4,071 each day (I say "technically" for a reason). What LTIR does is allow the Flyers to overspend by the amount of the daily cap hit of whomever is on LTIR on a daily basis. Since Leighton was the only one on LTIR and his daily cap his is $8,333, that meant that so long as he was on LTIR the Flyers could spend up to $8,333 more than the limit of $319,355. In a way, it changed their limit to $327,668.
This, by the way, is the reason the Flyers could afford Eric Wellwood for the 12 NHL days he was called up. His daily cap hit is $3,118. That, combined with the $4,071 by which the Flyers exceeded the daily limit, only added up to $7,189, well below the $8,333 exception they had with Leighton on LTIR.
Going back to the beginning of this article, what does all of this mean now that Leighton and Lappy are doing the ol' LTIR switcheroo?
Well, the news isn't good.
Laperriere's daily cap hit is only $6,272. Since Leighton is not on LTIR, this means that the exception for the Flyers is now down from $8,333 to $6,272. With the $4,071 they're already overspending, this means that the Flyers have $2,201 in which to work with on a daily basis.
That said, let's see what they can do with that.
If we take that $2,201 that the Flyers have to play with and multiply it by the 186 NHL days we can get a contract figure to see who the Flyers can call up from Glens Falls.
$2,201 x 186 = $409,386.
What can the Flyers do with a contract that is worth $409,386 for the 2010-11 season? In a word: nothing.
According to Article 11 of the CBA:
"11.12(a) Minimum Paragraph 1 Salary. [N]o SPC entered into after the date of execution of this Agreement shall provide: for Paragraph 1 NHL Salary of less than the following: 2010-11: U.S. $500,000."
Basically, it means that no one playing in the NHL can have a contract less than $500,000. It also means that the Flyers are absolutely deadlocked with their current roster. No one can be called up to the Flyers from Glens Falls--not even Eric Wellwood.
I had toyed with the idea of the Flyers waiving Walker to the Phantoms to alleviate his $1.7M cap hit, but that isn't going to be happening any time soon. Despite speculation to the contrary, Tim Panaccio reports that he injured himself this weekend, ironically in a conditioning stint with the Phantoms. He may need surgery on his hip. On 20 October he had surgery on his right hip. This time it's his left hip. He'll likely be out six more weeks. Good thing he's only got two!
You may ask why we just can't waive him anyhow. Well, since he is injured and is likely landing himself a spot on injured reserve, the Flyers' options are limited to sending him down to the Phantoms for a conditioning stint per Article 13 of the CBA, and that's only upon the conclusion of his injury.
With that said, we wait to see what the Flyers do, if anything at all. And by "anything" I mean waiving someone or making some kind of trade to alleviate the cap situation, both of which seem unlikely to occur. Until then, I leave you with this gem from Geoff Detweiler of Broad Street Hockey.
"With this move, the Flyers have effectively prevented themselves from being able to afford anybody not already on the roster. Not a problem, right? With Jody Shelley suspended for two games, if any forward gets the flu and cannot play in those games, the Flyers will have to dress Oskars Bartulis as the 12th forward. They can't afford to call anybody up without making another move."
Well played, Homer.
Oh, and if you're asking how much cap space the Flyers will have when all this is over, the answer is $0.
Note: Props to Capgeek for providing all of these numbers and a link to the CBA. They're fantastic people who are doing a spectacular job crunching the numbers in the NHL that most of us do not comprehend. I wish to join them someday.