24Juuso Valimaki
Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports

How the Flames can maximize Juuso Valimaki’s LTIR space

It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames have a tight salary cap situation as they approach the opening of the 2019-20 season. Some expensive contract mistakes, a looming big contract extension and Juuso Valimaki’s injury have conspired against the Flames, to the point where there are some questions about how the Flames can squeeze under the $81.5 million cap.

Yeah, it’s gonna suck. But by using the long term injury reserve salary exemption they get due to Valimaki’s injury, there’s a way for the Flames to fit under the cap without trading anybody away.

Step 1: minimize cap space

There are two key things to remember about Valimaki and LTIR:

  1. The Flames have to be cap compliant with him on the roster when they file their roster with the league office on Oct. 1.
  2. Once he’s placed on LTIR, they can exceed the salary cap by the difference between his cap hit ($894,166) and whatever cap space they have when he’s placed on the reserve. They maximize their benefit by spending up to the cap.

Therefore, we need to put together a 20-man roster with the least cap space humanly possible to file with the league – which would give the Flames the most flexibility possible moving forward.

Here’s roster we came up with, presuming that Matthew Tkachuk signs for around $8.5 million and Andrew Mangiapane is locked for about $950,000:

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett – Derek Ryan – Milan Lucic
Andrew Mangiapane – Mark Jankowski

Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic
Juuso Valimaki – Rasmus Andersson
Brandon Davidson – Alexander Yelesin

David Rittich
Cam Talbot

The dead money here includes burying Austin Czarnik in the AHL, as well as the buyouts for Troy Brouwer and Michael Stone. This leaves team with $791 in cap space, would give them ability to go over cap by up to $893,375.

Step 2: move bodies around

Okay, let’s make the team good.

Immediately, Valimaki is placed on the LTIR. Alexander Yelesin was only on the NHL roster to minimize cap space – his cap hit is $925,000 – and since he’s waiver exempt he can be sent right to the AHL. Coming up from the AHL are Dillon Dube and Oliver Kylington, who were both waiver exempt and able to be sent town prior to the roster deadline.

Here’s how the roster looks now:

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett – Derek Ryan – Milan Lucic
Andrew Mangiapane – Mark Jankowski – Dillon Dube

Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic
Oliver Kylington – Rasmus Andersson
Brandon Davidson

David Rittich
Cam Talbot

This version of the team is over the cap by $583,375 (and have another $310,000 to work with) and have a decent-looking roster. They still need to make some moves for wiggle room, but this buys them some time.

In other words

The Flames have some cap challenges. They probably need to make some moves, because even in this scenario they can only afford to carry one extra healthy body at a time – that ain’t sustainable. But if they can’t make a trade immediately to open up some space, it’s not the end of the world. Valimaki’s LTIR status gives them a good amount of flexibility.

  • Puck Head

    That’s a decent looking lineup to start the season. Reassuring to see the math behind it and great to know that BT won’t be forced to move any players.

      • ComeOn

        I’m fine with both sticking around till a trade is possible. I wish Frolik could pop a couple more goals but I don’t think the way both players have been called out jives with their value.

    • Puck Head

      Decent = acceptable

      Given the circumstances the lineup shown is fine to start the season and buys BT time to tweak and improve the roster. You can complain about it all you want but unless you can dream up a magical solution it’s probably the best we can do at this time.

  • DJ_44

    The Flames have to be cap compliant with him on the roster when they file their roster with the league office on Oct. 1.

    No they do not. They can actually exceed the cap by up to Valimaki’s salary. CBA Section 50.10 – Prior to Opening Day Illustrations – Illustration #1 (pg. 291).

    The reality is it would be unwise for Calgary to even consider putting Valimaki on LTIR. Demote him to the minors and you get the full salary relief since he is still waiver eligible (the team must pay Valimaki at his NHL salary however). This is, at worst, equal to any “allowance” you would get by using LTIR, but you do not have the downside of using LTIR (performance bonuses etc).

    No need to over-complicate the situation.

    • Greg

      Agreed. Since JV’s cap hit is less than $900k, you are better off burying it in the AHL than LTIRing it. LTIR can help if you’ve got large cap hits to use, but they also really complicate things (like not accumulating extra cap space during the season).

    • tyhee

      In a couple of ways, I have a different reading of the CBA than you do. I think the article was correct.

      1. In the illustration your refer to, the example refers to the last day of training camp (which for this season is October 1.) On that day they have the team in question assigning a healthy player to the AHL (with the injured player being on the NHL roster) to get down to the salary cap.

      Then on Opening Day (which is October 3 this season for the Flames) they have the injured player being sent to the minors allowing the team to replace the injured player with others up to the salary of the injured player. This is all consistent with the article. The team gets down to the salary cap with the injured player on the roster on the last day of training camp, just as the article indicated. The team then gets an exemption allowing them to exceed the exemption when they’ve put the injured player on injured reserve-again, consistent with the article.

      I don’t think the example in the CBA is inconsistent with the article in any way.

      2. I also don’t think the Flames are permitted to send Valimaki to the AHL while he’s disabled. Article 13.6 forbids sending a disabled player to the minors except in one circumstance (waiver eligible player on NHL recall who has not played 10 games or spent 30 days on the roster since his recall.) That exemption doesn’t apply to Valimaki. He’s not waiver eligible, he’s waiver exempt (see his listing on capfriendly.com for confirmation) and he’s not on NHL recall.

  • Skylardog

    I still have at least one spot for the draft hockey pool I am running on ESPN’s Fantasy platform.

    Fee is $25, plus $5 per trade (max of 2) and $2 per dropped player (estimate 6 to 10 drops max based on rules).

    You can play for $25 by adding 4 players and managing your IR. Max would be $55 unless you did something stupid and left roster spots open by dropping more players than you needed to.

    Email me at [email protected] if you are interested. If you have contacted me and have not heard back from me, please send me another email. Draft will take place near the end of September.

  • buts

    Why isn’t Mange signed? What’s going on here can someone enlighten me? If Kylington is sent down and Davidson and MacDonald are up, I’ll be pissed. One week till camp opens and it looks like they aren’t close with Tkachuk, the lineup very well could be weaker than last year when 6 flames had career years, what are the odds of that repeating versus a step back…..I’m grumpy. Tre hasn’t given us a lot to be positive about.

    • HarveysFleaCollar

      It sounds like Mango is asking for more than the league minimum the Flames sound to be offering. I hope Mango and Tkchuck sit and wait for something they, and the Flames can live with.

  • Greg

    There’s very little chance Austin Czarnik clears waivers, so this probably costs you a decent depth forward who still has potential to play up the lineup when needed.

    Also, $300K of cap space is a bad situation to be in for a whole season. It often means you don’t have to room to call up players when you need to. Imagine Talbot or Rittich get a flu and need to miss a game, but can’t be LTIR’d. You don’t even have enough cap space to call up Parsons or whoever.

    Worse, $300K of actual cap space grows over the course of the season with each day you don’t spend it, so it becomes more useful for adding at the deadline. $300K of LTIR space stays the same.

    This is a bad plan. Sad! 😉

      • everton fc

        It’s not the ideal scenario (neither was losing Byron, “back then”), but it may have to happen.

        I’d rather have Dube on the roster, over Czarnik.

          • mrroonie

            It’s interesting that we see people on FN lamenting giving up someone like Kulak who might, if he was really lucky, make the current team as the 7th D only because of Valimaki’s injury, for a prospect and an AHL player, but others are willing to just give away a decent depth forward for nothing. Just because you didn’t pay for an asset, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get some kind of value for them.

          • Cfan in Van

            Mrroonie, I’m certainly not suggesting they shouldn’t try to get something for Czar, but based on his age, and usage over the couple seasons, I don’t think he represents a lot of value for other teams. If they need to dump salary in a hurry, I can see them dropping Czar in order to accomplish that, and I wouldn’t be jumping on Tre for wasting resources, because this market is extremely tight pocketed right now and that move would make sense to me.

            For the record, I also was a big Kulak fan, but totally understand the Flames position for letting him go to a team that might be able to use him more appropriately, for very little return.

  • Dunk

    I think Tre is keeping the cap space tight just to try and improve his negotiating position. There are many solutions. He just ends up creating bad blood between players and team.