103Juuso Valimaki
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Valimaki’s injury adds complications going forward

Calgary Flames super prospect Juuso Valimaki is going to miss a lot of time after suffering an ACL injury during off-season training. Not only will the Flames be without the services of one of their most exciting prospects, but his injury brings along with it a few complications for the club going into the season.

The salary cap

Under the terms of the CBA, because Valimaki spent most of last season with the Flames – he was on the roster for roughly 60 regular season games between being active and being injured – he’s treated as an NHL regular going forward. That means that under Section 15.6 of the CBA, his salary isn’t buried during his injury.

The Flames will be on the hook for all of Valimaki’s $894,000 cap hit.

Remember how we had several discussions here where we hand-wrung over the Flames’ lack of space? Well, they’re going to have even less of it to start the year because they need to cover Valimaki’s salary and also replace him on the roster. (We haven’t read his contract, but generally much of an injured player’s salary is paid via the league’s insurance so they’ll get a bit of a financial reprieve.)

Long-term injury reserve

We all became LTIR experts during Ladislav Smid’s lengthy stint on the shelf a few seasons ago, but here’s the gist of how it works: if you throw a player on LTIR, your team can exceed the cap ceiling by the difference between the player’s cap hit and the cap space you have left before you put them on LTIR.

In other words, the Flames will need to be cap compliant on Oct. 1 when they file their roster (which will include Valimaki on the “regular” injury reserve list) with the league. To get the maximum relief from his LTIR status, they’ll try to squish themselves as close to the cap as they can before enacting LTIR.

A few other LTIR notes: it can be enacted retroactively – it’s sometimes used for teams to wriggle free of a situation where they don’t have enough cap to recall a player mid-season – and if they expect Valimaki to be out all season, they don’t need to worry about fixing their cap situation when they activate him. If he’s ready to go in the playoffs, when the cap does not exist, they can activate him without penalty.

We’ll have more on the cap situation as we get closer to the season, but the Flames are in a bit of trouble – more than they were before this injury – but now have a tool at their disposal to get creative.

The expansion draft

Valimaki was on the Flames roster for 40+ games last season, which counted as his first year of pro service. He’ll be on the Flames roster this coming season, albeit on the IR, and so it’ll count as his second year of pro service as it’s been defined by the CBA.

His injury does not impact his expansion draft eligibility. He will be eligible for selection by Seattle in 2021.

A hypothetical situation

Let’s just say that Brad Treliving wants to do the least mucking around with his roster that he can. Is it possible to slot Oliver Kylington into Valimaki’s roster spot, enact LTIR and remain cap compliant? The short answer is “yes, but…”

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Frolik – Ryan – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Lucic
Extra: Quine

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Extra: Davidson

Rittich
Talbot

Buyouts: Brouwer, Stone

The total cap hit of the above group, presuming a $7.5 million AAV for Tkachuk and $1 million for Mangiapane), is $82.16 million. That’s $660,041 over the cap, a game that could be bridged by enacting LTIR on Valimaki’s $894,000 – which would give the Flames a massive $234,000 cap cushion.

If Treliving goes with his in-house budget options, the team is compliant but has absolutely no wiggle room to add, subtract or adjust mid-season. If he goes to market to try to find some additional depth – potentially somebody pricier than Kylington’s $730,000 AAV – then he’ll have even more work to do.

      • Zeb Zadock

        Well the Big Chef signed in under a different account the other day (Woodrow Wilson) and then forgot he did and commented thinking he was still using his big chef account lol awwwwwwkward

    • cjc

      I think the article above says the exact opposite? It doesn’t open up any room to sign Byng. It’s not like they can now sign Byng for 8.25 million because they still need to replace Valimaki on the roster.

      • The total cap hit of the above group, presuming a $7.5 million AAV for Tkachuk and $1 million for Mangiapane), is $82.16 million. That’s $660,041 over the cap, a game that could be bridged by enacting LTIR on Valimaki’s $894,000 – which would give the Flames a massive $234,000 cap cushion.

          • cjc

            The difference being that Horton and Clarkson were never going to be on the opening night roster to begin with. They can move them onto LTIR on opening day, then sign Marner and all’s well. They get all of that relief because they are already at the cap ceiling, whereas Calgary isn’t. They’ll need to sign Tkachuk and/or Mangiapane first to get to the cap ceiling. And if Tkachuk isn’t willing to sign for <7.7 million, then having Valimaki's LTIR space won't help**

            It doesn't change anything, really. Unless they want zero flexibility or ability to deal with injuries, they still need to trade someone. Sure, it's even less likely that it's Brodie now. If Valimaki makes a return this season, they'll still need to demote someone to accommodate him. If you squint you can say it gives them $894 K flexibility, but that's largely eaten up by Valimaki's replacement (Kylington or Davidson)

            If someone less useful or on a higher salary went down (say Lucic) I mean, sure, they'd be counting their blessings.

            **If Tkachuk holds out, it's quite possible they agree to a Nylander-like contract later in the year.

        • DJ_44

          That’s $660,041 over the cap, a game that could be bridged by enacting LTIR on Valimaki’s $894,000 – which would give the Flames a massive $234,000 cap cushion.

          Leaving aside the fact that you are only accounting for a 22-man roster, that is not how LTIR works. You do not automatically get the full AAV of the player on LTIR. In your example (and I did not check your math), the team would get only $660,041 in LTIR relief. The remaining $234k would not be available to the team for the duration of Valimaki’s time on LTIR.

          In order to make full use (or as close to) of LTIR, a team has to get as close to the cap as possible, then put the player on LTIR.

          Treliving would have got more cap relief simply by demoting Valimaki to the AHL.

  • Flameon13

    Fun thought, saw the other day a commenter suggest a Brodie and Janko for Ristolanen deal. Really liked the idea and dug a little deeper into his numbers and though he did average about 0.5 takeaways per giveaway (Brodie was 0.7 for comparison) last year which is not first pair material BUT he is also a 40 plus point defenseman yearly, shoots right and put up 235 hits last year (12th in the league) so why not start some kind of talks we need a guy like this who plays big and can score. Another thought being a trade sending Frolik to LA for Clifford. Why does this make sense? Well yes Clifford scores less than Frolik (.29ppg compared to Frolik’s .52ppg), but he is saving us 2.7mill in space and he put up 115 hits last year. Why does taking on Frolik’s contract make sense for LA? They get extra scoring the year and a solid pk guy and they have the cap space to do so this year anyway. Also, if they don’t see themselves in a playoff spot come TDL they can move him and if they don’t move him he will be gone next offseason anyway when they will need extra cash for Toffoli. Maybe even see if they’d throw in a 5th rounder if they can. Then our lineup next year would look like this:
    JG-Lindy-Benny
    Mangi-Monny-Chucky
    Dube-Backs-Czarnik
    Clifford-Ryan-Lucic
    Gio-Ras
    Han-Ris
    Kly-Ham
    I had a couple crazy ideas to go along with this but lets leave it at that for now

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Why would the Sabres trade a stud for Brodie and Janks? Kim and Terry will have countless millions to splurge on the Sabres next season as so much of the help will be UFAs come 01 July.

      • Flameon13

        A stud might be a stretch though based on his defensive stats though. His offensive stats are a little better than Brodie’s the fact that he wants out in Buffalo does lower his value. Janko is not physical and might only ever be good for 20 goals someday but he can kill a penalty. These two may not get the deal done but not a terrible place to start.

          • Flameon13

            Either way it happened we weren’t gonna be in the perfect situation moving forward. Atleast this way he tried to make it better, whether or not we end up better because of it who knows. Though the worse of the 3 situations would’ve been having Neal back on the opening night roster.

    • cjc

      Good god not Ristolainen. He can play the PP but everything else is a tire fire on skates. There isn’t a single defensive stat that puts him in a kind light. He has been outscored by like 236 goals in his career at 5v5. Stay far far away.

        • cjc

          The hitting is mostly because he never has the puck at 5v5. In his case physicality is a bug, not a feature. Hits and takeaways/giveaways can also be pretty misleading stats. Even in a second pair role he is going to see fairly challenging matchups. And I’d rather see what Andersson, Hanifin and Kylington can do on the PP – we already have an excellent quarterback first pairing quarterback in Giordano. Then there is his contract – 3 more years! They’d potentially lose him in the expansion draft, too. There are too many red flags to make this a safe bet. Ristolainen makes Brodie look like a defensive mastermind.

    • The GREAT WW

      Risto had a +/- of -41 last year (and has been a negative +/- all his career).
      Brodie was a plus 29.

      I know; +/- is impacted by the quality of your teammates……but that a 70 goal difference……

      No thanks.

      WW

      • Flameon13

        True, it is a huge number but he is also playing on Buffalo a team finishing 27th in the league this year (31st the year before) and playing big minutes for them. So when you’re playing big minutes on a losing team you are bound to be out there for more goals against than not. While Brodie played on the top line of the second place team in the whole league only a handful of Flames even finished with a minus meanwhile only 2 Sabres finished with a plus stat and it was a mere +1. I know he isn’t very good defensively but his +/- says more to me about how much he is on the ice playing for a losing team.

          • Flameon13

            Yes to some degree, but he being on the ice so much also means he would also be out there for a bad giveaway by a teammate and would still give him a minus even though it wasn’t necessarily his fault. I meant that due to him playing more minutes he is also out there for more mistakes made by teammates, not that he doesn’t make mistakes because he isn’t great defensively, I just mean the +/- can look more like a team stat than a personal stat especially when you are a big minutes player

        • Beer League Coach

          Many years ago Vancouver was a terrible team and drafted Cam Neely with their 1st round pick. He was rushed to the NHL and after 2 years of not leading the Nux to the promised land he was traded with a 1st round pick (turned out to be Glen Wesley) to the Bruins for a washed up former all star, Barry Pederson. Nux continued to flounder with Pederson. Neely no longer was expected to be a leader on his team. At age 20 all he had to do was go out there and play his game. Playing with other good players he developed into the player Nux expected him to be from the start. By the time he retired from Bruins he was a Hall of Famer.
          Buffalo was a terrible team when they drafted Ristolainen who was described by one scout as the Finnish version of Chris Pronger. Risto joined the Sabres as an 18 year old and Sabres continued to be a very bad team. Still are today. Risto has become so frustrated with the team that he has asked for a trade. He could become a very good D man if he gets to play on a good team with other good players. I won’t say he becomes a Hall of Famer, but he could become a very good D man on a good team. Going from Sabres to Flames could be the best thing to happen to him and also be a very good trade for Flames. Ryan O’Reilly left his frustrations behind and went on to win a Stanley Cup with Blues in his first season away from Buffalo. Escaping from Buffalo could be the best thing for his career.

          • Flameon13

            I personally thought Ristolanen was the second best defender to go that draft year and still think he is (though Morrissey is close) and would love to see him on the team

  • Greg

    I know LTIR cap relief has other complications so teams generally avoid it if they can, but if they are going to tap into anyway, they should look into another big injury-contract floating around the league. If you’re going to use it a little, it’s better to use it a lot! If you grabbed Hossa for example, that’d give you another $5.25M of cap relief.

  • drogon

    Such a terrible news, one of my favorites D.
    Our number of contracts is too low @ 41. Historically, BT likes to have it a bit higher, around 46.
    There’s Tkachuk, that makes 42, and perhaps Mangiapane, but I’ve read he could be one of the sweeteners.
    Should have one for Jakob Pelletier very soon, bringing the total at 43.
    Friday, there will be 23 unsigned college draft players hitting the UFA market, this year’s big fish is Chase Priskie, RHD. We might target one of them. And there’s still room for at least 2 more contracts. Stockton’s defense group needs some upgrading.

        • Cfan in Van

          It appears to be true. Won’t know until the season gets underway (because everyone knows luck plays a large roll in seasonal outcome), but it doesn’t look great at the moment.

      • oilcanboyd

        Why? We did exceptionally well as a team without Vali and Stoner last season. Kylington had plenty of action and will be developing upwards in the new season. Even if Lucic does nothing this season, that is an improvement over Neal… Question mark is in the nets…more questions about Talbot, the tainted oiler, than Rittich.

  • BendingCorners

    I’m not sure than Mr. Pike is correct. The quoted CBA article is relevant to amounts paid to the player, not to his cap hit.
    Since Valimaki is waiver-exempt he can still be assigned to Stockton with a resulting cap hit of zero. There are several CBA clauses that apply to players that are NOT waiver-exempt but a leisurely browse has left me unable to locate a clause forbidding the assignment of injured exempt players. Cap-wise, I think Treliving has an extra 894K to play with until such time as Valimaki is added back onto the Flames roster. If anybody can find a paragraph in the CBA that indicates otherwise, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    • Albertabeef

      Tre doesn’t really have that to play with unless we run with a 21 man roster. If you are replacing him on the roster with Kylington you only save 234k. You have to pay whoever fills in for him. If we are at max-cap his replacement needs to cost equal or less than him.

    • cjc

      I found this on a Florida Panthers blog:

      “Injured players cannot be loaned to a minor league team before being cleared to play. However, because the waiver expiration rules are not suspended when a player is injured, if the player was already recalled from that team and waivers haven’t expired, he can be returned to the minor league team, but he still receives his NHL salary until cleared to play.”

      So they could send Valimaki down, but they’d have to pay him his NHL salary until he is cleared to play. May as well keep him on IR with the big team then – they could put him on LTIR and exceed the cap by up to $894,166, but it’s really unclear if that would be needed (i.e. depends on what Tkachuk and Mangiapane sign for, what trades happen). My guess is that Treliving will also want a little wiggle room for injuries, so they may not even be at the cap when the season starts.

      • DJ_44

        They cannot “exceed” the cap per se ….. the excess would simply account for Valimaki’s cap hit. I thought they could not demote an injured player, however according to your quote, as long as they pay Valimaki his NHL salary, they can paper him to Stockton.

        You get more available cap simply by doing that then playing around with LTIR.

      • Budgie

        If Valamaki was injured in pre-season work-outs or training then he is paid is NHL Salary because he played over 50 games in the NHL. The team has insurance that covers his salary, but there is no benefit to sending him down, he is on LTIR which doesn’t come with much for Cap Savings, plus Calgary has to be Cap compliant by Oct.1 to exceed the Cap by his salary 894,166 and when he comes back you have to be Cap compliant again. The 894,166 could help to sign Mangiapanne, not sure what they will offer him, it will help a bit.

  • Chucky

    It is an unfortunate thing that he is injured but it may be one of the biggest gifts the Flames have ever gotten.

    This will give them a chance to see if Kylington has what it takes and maybe see if he can develop his game beyond a 3rd pairing level. He has looked good in the games we saw last year and shown some real upside. It is hard to see how they could keep him in Stockton and while he is fourth on the LD depth chart Gio is 35 and may decide that he belongs behind the bench in 22-23.
    From what we have seen Valimaki is the future 1st pairing guy when time catches up with Gio. However it is hard to see how he signs a big contract with the first 2 years of this one dominated by injury.
    It is quite possible that this results in a situation where the starting left defense in 2022-2023 have a combined cap hit of less that $11 million (Hanifin 4.95 Valimaki and Kylington averaging 3) and a combined age of 74. This could quite possibly open up a lot of dollars to sign Johnny and maybe extend the cup streak.