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DAVID DESHARNAIS
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The Rangers already are at the Cap limit without Marc Staal being signed

Cap In Hand?
Posted by Toby Ivey ≡ 12/31/1899 12:39:17 AM - August 6, 2010

Pretty much since the current CBA between the NHL and player's association was signed, I have wondered how the NHL calculated the salary cap during the off-season. When could a player be reassigned to the minor leagues? How many players, and indeed, which players counted towards the cap?

So when one of the OTG faithful posed the question recently in the forums, I figured it was probably about time I did a bit of research. As it turns out, the answer is in Article 50 of the CBA (for those who want to read it themselves).

Below your find a layman's explanation for how they figure it out.

The NHL allows teams to exceed the cap by ten percent during the off-season. That means that with a hard cap of $59.4M set for this year, each team can temporarily go over by $5.94M, or up to a total of $65.34M.

The salary total for a team is then calculated the following way:

All players with one-way contracts count one hundred percent towards the cap, regardless of where they played in 2009-10 or where they are likely to play in 2010-11
,
Any bonus money that was deferred from the previous season (entry-level and 35+ year old contracts can defer bonus money one year in certain circumstances, in the Rangers' case I am not aware of any deferred bonus moneys)

Players on two-way contracts have their salary cap impact calculated on a pro-rated bases. So if they were assigned to the Rangers roster one day last year out of the 190 or so days the season went, then they'd have 190th of their salary calculated against the cap.

In addition, the value of qualifying contracts to restricted free agents made before the July 1st deadline (like the one Mark Staal received) is added to the total.

Factoring all that in, and the Rangers figure to be about $1.3M over the cap as we stand today, with about $4.6M free to acquire players through trade or free agency, or $5.4M or so to sign Marc Staal (his qualifying contract plus the outstanding cap space).

They also won't be able to remove any salary by reassigning them to Hartford until the last day of training camp, in early October. Or to put it another way: Wade Redden could be assigned to Hartford tomorrow, but his salary cap hit will remain on the books until days before the regular season kicks off.

This in part explains why the Rangers and Thrashers were able to make this week's deal. Because of the way the league measure's the cap figure during the off-season, both Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller would count against the cap, despite both players seemingly destined to be in the AHL.

The subtraction of their combined $2.4M hit actually offsets the addition of the $2.3M+ of the cap hit for Todd White, plus comes with an additional bonus. Because Donald Brasher was signed to a multi-year contract after the age of 35, he would have accounted for around $1.3M (the league does give a modest $100k "discount") on the Rangers' cap total...regardless of where he played this season.

This would have hurt the Rangers, who are hard up against cap limit.

In White they do get the flexibility of potentially another forward who could contribute some scoring, or alternatively be reassigned to the AHL with no penalty to the club once the season is underway.

Of course it still leaves the Blueshirts a little vulnerable on their one remaining RFA - Marc Staal. With around $5.4M available, they should have plenty of room to sign him to a multi-year deal, even for the $4M or so he's reportedly asking for. Staal is clearly the Rangers' top defender at this time, and there would be an impact felt if he was lost for some reason.

The vulnerability lies in the ability for other teams to sign Staal to an offer sheet. Theoretically at least, another team could write a contract today to sign him to a deal of $5.5M, and the Rangers would have to find some way to divest themselves of a contract, or be forced to accept a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick by way of compensation.

They could certainly try and make a trade of a player, to help get back under the cap, but to say they're be in a buyer's market at that point would be an understatement.

A return of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd is almost certainly not worth it to the Rangers at this stage, and therefore the best scenario is for them to get him under contract as quickly as possible. They've already made their key UFA investments for the Summer, as well as rewarding Dan Girardi with a big contract.

The roster is pretty much set, and you're unlikely to get a better value player than Staal for the amount that it's going to take to sign him. Certainly try to drive a hard bargain, but it's time to get the deal done and start preparing for the season.


Profile of the Author:
Has been an active follower of the New York Rangers since the 1996-97 season. Began OutsideTheGarden.com in 2001, and has continued to collect data and provide analysis on the team through to the current day.

 Additional stories from Toby Ivey:


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