by PuckStopsHere on 10/06/13 at 09:23 PM ET
The NHL salary cap dropped this season to $64.3 million. This number was negotiated in the last CBA negotiations and has no link to NHL revenues. Many teams would happily exceed this number and nine have so far this year. They are the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a broad cross-section of NHL teams that includes three who missed the playoffs last season. All of these teams are using the long-term injury exemptions to exceed the salary cap.
The Boston Bruins have Marc Savard and Carl Soderberg on the long-term injured list. Savard has been there since 2011. He is not expected to ever play another game but the Bruins intend to keep him on their roster and on the injured list until his contract expires in 2017. This gets the Bruins out of his salary cap hit in the long-term contract he signed. Savard is no longer making an attempt to return to the NHL. He is effectively retired but the Bruins will keep him on their roster for years into the future.
Carolina is exceeding the salary cap due to Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen on the long-term injured list. They used their increased cap space to sign Radek Dvorak and recall Ryan Murphy.
Detroit has Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm on LTIR. They have used this space to recall backup goalie Petr Mrazek, who they otherwise could not have afforded. They likely plan to use this space to recall Gustav Nyquist when the space this frees up becomes big enough.
The New York Rangers have Carl Hagelin on LTIR. They kept JT Miller on their roster for the first few days to increase their salary cap space. The plan is to make enough space to call up Darroll Powe.
The Philadelphia Flyers have Chris Pronger and Marc-Andre Bourdon on the LTIR. Pronger hasn't played an NHL game since 2011 and appears to have no plan to ever play another NHL game. He is signed until 2017 and will stay on the Flyers payroll but with no expectation to ever play again. Commenters on this blog predicted this situation with Pronger before it occurred. The Flyers have a long history of using the LTIR to get out of contracts they do not like. They have used this newly created space to sign Hal Gill.
Pittsburgh has Tomas Vokoun and Matt D'Agostini on LTIR. They have used this space to sign Chuck Kobasew and recall Beau Bennett.
San Jose has Rafi Torres on LTIR and added John McCarthy to fill that space.
Tampa Bay has Mattais Ohlund and Brian Lee on LTIR. Ohlund hasn't played in the NHL since 2011 and like Savard and Pronger probably never will again. He is a sham player on the Lightning roster. He will remain there until 2016. They have used this space to recall Ondrej Palat.
Toronto has Mark Fraser and Frazer McLaren on the LTIR. It is expected that they will use this space to recall John-Michael Liles when the cap space is created.
The moral of this story is nearly a third of the teams in the NHL have no problem exceeding the salary cap. There are others who likely would as well if they could. This salary cap is well below free market conditions and as a result it has prevented us from seeing the good teams that may have been built if teams could spend as they wished. Several teams are using the LTIR to hide long-term contracts on players that have become inconvenient. These players haven't played for years and are making no effort to ever play again, yet will remain on their team's roster for years to come. These are some of the problems that the salary cap has created.
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