Here are some options for the New York Islanders to bring in LTIR contracts to get creative with the salary cap.
In looking towards the 2020-21 NHL season we often wonder how the New York Islanders will open up enough cap space to sign their three pending RFA’s? With $8.905 million in cap space for the 20-21 season, the Isles don’t have enough room to make it work.
But what if instead of creating space bellow the cap ceiling they, essentially, extend the cap ceiling? What if they bring in players who are unfortunately too injured to play? What if they use the LTIR loophole in the CBA to make more room?
Using LTIR contracts to make room on the cap is something Lou Lamoriello knows very well from his time as the GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Doing so again to get out of cap hell with the Isles is certainly something Lou could do.
Here’s a look at some contracts around the league that Lou could use to extend the cap ceiling.
How it Works
Just a bit of background on how LTIR works to create cap space before getting into the contracts.
CapFriendly does a great job explaining how to calculate this. Effectively a team like the Islanders could start using LTIR space once they exceed their ACSL (Accurable Cap Space Limit).
Here’s a quick example: Let’s say the Isles sign Pulock to a deal with a $5 million AAV and Toews to a deal with a $2.5 million AAV. Their cap space would decrease to $1.405 from the $8.905 million today.
Now let’s say, again as an example, the Islanders place Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV on LTIR. That $6 million AAV is now considered as part of a base salary relief pool. The Islanders could dip into that relief pool once they exceed their ACSL.
With the hypothetical Pulock and Toews deals, the Isles ACSL would be $80.095 million ($81.5m-$1.405m) and is effectively their new cap ceiling. Once they go beyond that $80.095 million, the Isles could start using the $6 million base salary relief pool from Boychuk’s LTIR.
Using LTIR the Islanders could bring in contracts to effectively go around the NHL’s hard cap system. It sounds counter-intuitive to bring in big contracts when you’re at the cap ceiling, but teams have used it before. Again, Lou did it as GM of the Leafs.
If you’re worried about actual dollars it’s important to remember that players on LTIR have their contracts covered by insurance and not the actual team.
Looking around the league there are a few contracts that have LTIR potential or are already placed on LTIR:
- Ryan Kesler | Anaheim Ducks: $6.875 million, 2 years
- Henrik Zetterberg | Detroit Red Wings: $6.083 million, 1 year
- Brandon Dubinsky | Columbus Blue Jackets: $5.85 million, 1 year
- Marian Hossa | Arizona Coyotes: $5.275 million, 1 year
Brent Seabrook and his $6.875 million deal also get bandied about in discussions of contracts destined for LTIR, but the veteran blueliner believes he can still be an impact player in the NHL.
There’s also the possibility that Andrew Ladd and his $5.5 million AAV find their way to LTIR. But that seems rather complicated seeing as how he was healthy enough to play against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals just a few weeks ago.
Although then again, Lou did exactly that to Stephane Robidas in 2015.
What is clear is that Lou has options out there to acquire contracts that he can use to play around with the cap using long-term injury reserve if he needs to.
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The next question is what might the cost be to pull an LTIR contract. Here are some recent trades for LTIR deals and what those teams had to give up:
- David Clarkson to TOR from VGK: Garret Sparks
- Ryan Callahan to OTT from TBL: Mike Condon
In the flat cap era, these costs likely go up, the Islanders aren’t going to be the only ones in the market for LTIR contracts. But the Isles aren’t looking at shipping out their 2021 1st in order to pick up an LTIR deal.
Lou may not need LTIR. Maybe he’s able to find a new home for Boychuk or Ladd to open up space without having to dip in the LTIR market. But if he can’t find a home for either, LTIR is there as an option.