Tyler J. Altemose
As many of you are aware, Flyers defenseman Chris "I'll Take This Puck, Thank You" Pronger is out 4-6 weeks due to a broken bone in his foot. He's been placed on injured reserve. In his place is Oskars Bartulis (you know, that little guy who has spent most of the season watching from the press box).
As you may also know, Michael Leighton and Ian Laperriere did a LTIR switcheroo earlier in the week, which left the Flyers cap situation utterly paralyzed.
Since the Flyers' situation keeps getting crazier and crazier I thought I'd try to sort things out so all of you wonderful fans out there can keep up. I'll begin with the easy stuff: differentiating the difference between injured reserve (IR) and long-term injury reserve (LTIR), explaining who is on each, and laying out who is on the team's current active roster (remember, each NHL team is limited to 23 active roster members). After that, I'll get into the more complicated things like the cap situation and the numbers we're looking at.
Injured Reserve v. Long-Term Injury Reserve
There have been a lot of questioning regarding what the difference is between IR and LTIR and how each works.
I'm here to help, folks.
First, this is how the NHL Rules dictate IR should work:
" 2. A player who has an injury that renders him physically unable to play for a minumum of seven days after that date of the injury can be placed on the Club's Injured Reserve List. Once a player is placed on the list, the Club may replace said player on its NHL roster with another player. All determinations that a player has suffered an injury warranting injured reserve status must be made by the Club's medical staff and in accordance with the Club's medical standards.
3. A player placed on Injured Reserve is ineligible to compete in NHL games for a period of not less than seven days."
Basically, IR is really simple. If a player is looking like his injury will take longer than a week to recover from, he can be placed on IR. Once on IR, he must be out for at least a week (so if he mysteriously recovers in four days, too bad). While on the IR list, that player is off of the team's active roster (meaning he can be replaced in the lineup). However, it is important to remember that their daily cap hit still counts (check out steps 1 and 2 for more on what exactly I mean by "daily cap hit").
LTIR is more complicated. Much like IR, a player is taken off the active roster. Their daily cap hit still also counts (check out the "How does LTIR work?" section for more clarification). That is where the similarities end.
Here's how the CBA explains LTIR:
"50.10(d) Bona-Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception to the Upper Limit. In the event that a Player on a Club becomes unfit to play ... for at least (i) twenty-four (24) calendar days and (ii) ten (10) NHL Regular Season games, and such Club desires to replace such a Player, the Club may add an additional Player or Players to its Active Roster..."
Furthermore, there are cap implications. While the daily cap hit of the player on LTIR still counts, the team may go over their daily cap allowance by the amount of that player's daily cap hit (but no more). Don't worry, I'll get more into this later.
So, since I'm a man who likes his charts, I figured I'd provide one to clear things up for all of you.
So, what constitutes "active roster"?
Basically, the team's active roster is anyone who isn't on IR or LTIR. For example, Oskars Bartulis has been on the Flyers active roster since day one (yes, even during the conditioning stint he did with the Adirondack Phantoms). Players on conditioning stints count toward a team's active roster per the CBA.
Anyone that has been in Lavvy's dog house throughout the season has also been on the active roster.
Flyers Active Roster, IR, and LTIR
So, who is on what list? Rather than boring you, I'll just break it down:
Active roster: Forwards (13): Blair Betts, Danny Briere, Dan Carcillo, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino, Andreas Nodl, Darroll Powe, Mike Richards, Jody Shelley, James Van Riemsdyk, Nikolay Zherdev | Defense (6): Oskars Bartulis, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Sean O'Donnell, Kimmo Timonen | Goalies (3): Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton
Injured reserve: Chris Pronger
Long-term injured reserve: Ian Laperriere (F), Matt Walker (D)
Basically, the Flyers have a 22-man active roster, one on IR, and two on LTIR.
Flyers Cap Situation
Okay, easy stuff is out of the way. Here's the more difficult part--the numbers. Now, if you aren't up to par at this point I suggest you save yourself a LOT of time and energy and just read this (yes, this is probably the third link to the same article in one post). The reason being is that I'm not going to explain it all again. I'm going to give the low-down with what numbers are what and from there I'm going into number crunching.
Here we go. First the numbers:
- Daily allowance: $319,355
- Flyers daily spending: $323,426
- Flyers overspending per day: $4,071
- Ian Laperriere's daily cap hit: $6,272
- Matt Walker's daily cap hit: $9,140
- Flyers daily cap exception: $15,412
As you should know, the league gives the Flyers $319,355 a day. But the team spends $323,426, so it's over the limit by $4,071.
Here's where exceptions come into play.
LTIR dictates that the Flyers can spend an amount up to but not more than the daily cap hit of any player on LTIR in the process of replacing them. Since Walker's cap hit is $9,140 and Lappy's cap hit is $6,272, the team gets a daily cap exception of $15,412.
But they don't get all of that $15,412. Remember, they're overspending each day by $4,071. So that gets taken out of that $15,412.
So how much of a LTIR exception do the Flyers get each day? $11,341.
How much cap space do the Flyers have? $0. Nadda. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Anyone who tells you otherwise is mistaken.
So, what can the Flyers do with this $11,341 exception? Well, it's tricky. See, an $11,341 exception equates to a yearly salary of just over $2.1M ($2,109,426 to be exact). But, if the Flyers were going to do something like trade or pick someone up with that exception (which they can technically do since they only have a 22-man active roster), they'll run into two problems.
First, Matt Walker. While his LTIR buddy Ian Laperriere is widely believed to be out for the entirety of the season with post-concussion syndrome, Matt Walker is only expected to miss another 6-8 weeks, meaning he should be good to go by mid-February. If he is activated at that point, the Flyers lose his $9,140 exception. $11,341 becomes $2,201. $2,201 is not enough to make any moves (including keeping whomever the Flyers would pick up or trade for). Again, this is where the Flyers stood with the Leighton/Laperriere LTIR switcheroo.
But let's say that immediately upon his activation Matt Walker is traded/waived and we're given back that $9,140 each day (this time in the form of cap space and not an LTIR exception). It's at that point that we run into our second problem: Chris Pronger.
Once re-activated, Chris Pronger is going to be back on the active roster. Since he is of great importance, either the guy the Flyers choose to pick up (or some other player) has to be waived/traded to free up that 23rd active roster spot for Mr. That's My Puck.
That, in my opinion, is too much for Mr. Holmgren and Company to deal with. Sure, there's space to work with (I'm not sure why we need to have so much, a.k.a. I'm not sure why Lappy and Walker were waived and not just the latter), but there isn't the luxury of having the rest of the season to work with it. There'll be a judgment day in any situation, and I'm sure Homer wants to avoid that situation altogether.
Besides, look at this team. They're playing on an entirely different level than the rest of the league. You don't ever want to mess up a good thing.
If Homer knows anything, he knows this: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.