Cap Causing Issues For Trade Deadline

By JD Lagrange – More and more fans, teams, players agents and reporters are complaining about the hard salary cap situation. While some of it is related to the hit that NHL revenues have taken during the two COVID seasons, preventing the cap ceiling from going up, it’s not the only factor. A lot of it has to do with the cap not keeping up with the salaries demanded by players and awarded to them by team General Managers. Further, the countless trade clauses are not helping the issue either. Go figure, desperate GMs being desperate and inflating the salaries in an attempt to gain an edge… What a new concept, right? NOT!

Current cap situation

Here is the current salary cap situation around the league for all 32 teams.


Now here are a few notes of importance:

– 17 of the 32 teams are in their LTIR

– 20 of the 32 teams have less than $1 million in project cap space

– 26 of the 32 teams have less than $3 million in project cap space

Playoffs’ picture

Now let’s focus on teams in the playoffs, versus teams out of the playoffs’ picture. On the image above, red dots (🔴) are for teams more than 5 points out of a playoffs’ spot. Green dots (🟢) are teams currently in a playoffs’ position, including a Wild card spot. Lastly, yellow dots (🟡) are teams outside of a playoffs’ spot, but within 5 points of one.

Here are the current playoffs’ races in both conference.

With the playoffs in mind, here are some important factors to note:

– 23 teams are either in the playoffs or within 5 points from a playoffs’ spot. Off of those teams:

  • 16 teams have less than $1 million in projected cap space
  • 13 teams are in their LTIR
  • Only 2 teams (BUF and MIN) have more than $2 million of projected cap space available

– 9 teams are more than 5 points from a playoffs’ spot. Off of those teams:

  • 4 teams (MTL, VAN, CBJ and SJS) have less than $1 million in projected cap space
  • All of those 4 teams are in their LTIR as well
  • Only 5 teams (ARI, ANA, DET, CHI and OTT) have cap space to be a potential Third-Party Broker.

Carey Price’s contract

We must understand that players don’t get paid during the playoffs. So for the greedy owners, having their team in the playoffs is huge. I haven’t read recent figures but several years ago, teams in the playoffs were averaging around $4 million in the home team’s pockets every single playoffs’ game. Rest assured that it’s much higher than that today.

With that in mind, and with so many teams battling for a playoffs’ spot, I’m sure you can understand some owners putting the squeeze on their Hockey Ops department to ensure that they do everything they can to participate in the NHL’s Spring dance. But how do you do that when every team is so tight to the cap? Well, the LTIR comes to the rescue, at least to finish the regular season as the cap doesn’t count in the playoffs, as the Tampa Bay Lightning reminded us in the 2020-21 playoffs!

If you’re the Canadiens, one has to wonder what the value would be of acquiring Carey Price’s $10.5M contract, all of which is on the LTIR, right? I’m wondering if Kent Hughes isn’t toying with the idea of trading that contract, as he did with Shea Weber’s last off-season. And is this something even feasible during the season, by trade deadline? At the very least, it makes you think, doesn’t it?

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