Making sense of the math: a Calgary Flames salary cap update

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
In the aftermath of the filing of opening rosters, plenty of Calgary Flames fans reached out to me over social media expressing… confusion. Are the Flames in cap trouble? Is their roster now set in stone until players get healthy? What options are available to them going forward?
So, friends, let’s try to make sense of the Flames’ early-season cap math.
(Stick-taps to the great folks at CapFriendly and PuckPedia for… well, everything cap-related. You guys rule.)

Who’s on the NHL roster?

The Flames filed an opening roster that contained 22 active players: 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.
PlayerCap Hit
F Jonathan Huberdeau$10,500,000
F Nazem Kadri$7,000,000
F Andrew Mangiapane$5,800,000
F Mikael Backlund$5,350,000
F Blake Coleman$4,900,000
F Elias Lindholm$4,850,000
F Yegor Sharangovich$3,100,000
F Dillon Dube$2,300,000
F Matt Coronato$925,000
F Walker Duehr$825,000
F Dryden Hunt$775,000
F Adam Ruzicka$762,500
F A.J. Greer$762,500
D MacKenzie Weegar$6,250,000
D Noah Hanifin$4,950,000
D Rasmus Andersson$4,550,000
D Chris Tanev$4,500,000
D Nikita Zadorov$3,750,000
D Jordan Oesterle$925,000
D Dennis Gilbert$762,500
G Jacob Markstrom$6,000,000
G Daniel Vladar$2,200,000
The 22 active players have a combined cap hit of $81,737,500.
But they’re not the only players that count against the cap right now.

What injured/non-roster players count against the cap?

In a weird quirk, the Flames have three injured/non-roster players to begin the season, and they’re all in different categories of the injury reserve system because of their specific circumstances.
Because he’s on a two-way deal, Jakob Pelletier is on the season-opening injury reserve, which modifies his $863,333 cap hit based on the proportion of last season that he spent on the NHL roster. So his cap hit is reduced to $406,000 while he’s injured. Pelletier must remain on the IR for (at least) seven days from the start of the season.
Because he’s on a one-way deal, Kevin Rooney is on the “regular” injury reserve. His $1.3 million cap hit counts in full and isn’t reduced. Rooney must remain on the IR for (at least) seven days from the start of the season.
Oliver Kylington is on a one-way deal and has been placed on the long-term injury reserve. Because he’s on a one-way, his $2.5 million cap hit counts in full. Because he’s on the LTIR, he must remain unavailable for (at least) 10 games and 24 days from the beginning of the season.
These two players combine for another $4,206,000 in cap commitments. Add the active players to the unavailable players and you have a cap number of $85,943,500 – $2,443,500 over the cap.

How LTIR works in the Flames’ context

Because the Flames began the season, from a cap perspective, requiring LTIR to field a legal roster, they’re required to work within a few constraints.
  • They must maintain an active roster of at least 20 players.
  • They cannot exceed $85,943,500 in daily cap commitments without adding more players to LTIR.
So here’s the rub: the total potential cap relief from placing Kylington on LTIR was $2.5 million. But the Flames were $56,500 short of that when they placed him on LTIR, so that $56,500 in potential cap spending is lost as long as Kylington is on LTIR. The Flames couldn’t quite max out the value of placing Kylington LTIR, but they came really close, and so the total LTIR exemption (above the cap ceiling) they can use with him on LTIR is $2,443,500.
If the Flames wanted to, they could waive players and swap players back and forth from the AHL, but they cannot exceed the cap by more than $2,443,500 without adding Pelletier or Rooney to LTIR. (They haven’t done it yet because they haven’t needed the added cap space.)
If additional players get injured or the Flames want to add a 23rd active body, they can place Pelletier or Rooney on LTIR and gain space – Pelletier would add $406,000 to the LTIR pool, Rooney would add $1.3 million. The time-missed requirement for each player will get longer – from seven days to 10 games and 24 days – but it can be counted retroactively. If you wait two weeks and then need to convert Pelletier to LTIR, for example, the two weeks he was on the IR count towards LTIR requirements.

Long story short

Are the Flames in cap trouble? Being in LTIR isn’t ideal, because your team is over the salary cap ceiling and can’t accumulate cap savings for future use later in the season. But Kylington being placed on LTIR gives them some wiggle room, and they can gain additional wiggle room, if required, by later placing Pelletier or Rooney on LTIR, too.
But the Flames are still able to shuffle up their team’s roster if needed, so for the short-term they have a little bit of cap flexibility. But all things being equal, they would definitely prefer not being in LTIR and having access to the playing services of their three presently unavailable players.
Get your tickets for the FlamesNation Season Home Opener party, and come hang out with us at Greta Bar while we watch the Flames take on the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener!

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