Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Roundup

A little more than a week ago, Caps Assistant GM Don Fishman (a.k.a. possessor of perhaps my safest-for-work dream job) sat down with a group of season ticket holders for some "Chalk Talk," a team-hosted Q&A with a member of the organization.

Fishman was surprisingly candid about the team's salary cap situation - the Caps, at that point, were $190,000 below the $56.7 million ceiling. Not $305,000 below or $668,899 below, but $190,000 below.

So what does $190,000 get you in the NHL these days? Well, it'll get you about 55 days (not games, but days) of Chris Bourque or 50 days of Sami Lepisto or or 43 days of Simeon Varlamov or 21 days of Karl Alzner (or three days of Alex Ovechkin).

It'll also get you saving money wherever you can. For example, perusing the AHL transactions page, I noticed this:

Click to enlarge

A couple of paper transactions and $5,107.53 saved? Perhaps - every penny counts (note, too, that the team wasn't exactly broadcasting their moves either - the October 31 press release on Sloan's demotion noted that "Sloan, 27, returns to Hershey after being recalled by the Caps on Oct. 20."). [Update: see the comments for why the cap probably isn't why this was going on, though the underlying point remains]

So things are tight. Damn tight. And remember, teams have to leave some room for short-term injury replacements (i.e. if another defenseman goes down with a day-to-day injury and the team calls up Lepisto, they do so at $3,763.44 per day against the cap while the guy he's replacing is also still counting against the cap).

In other words, barring some serious salary cap shedding, this is the team the Caps will be going with the rest of the way. That $4 million right wing or blueliner you were hoping for at the deadline for a prospect and a pick? Don't count on it - if the Caps are at $190k below the cap at the deadline, they'll only be able to afford about nine days of a player at that salary.

Which brings us to King Karl. To make it easy, let's assume the Caps stay where they are vis a vis the cap and team health, and that they're going to send down Tyler Sloan to make room for Alzner and that they're willing to bump right up against the cap (which is unrealistic because of injuries, as noted before). The earliest it could possibly happen? March 13, give or take a day.

Like I said, these are your 2008-09 Caps - hope you like 'em.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

If you didn't catch this story on former Caps prospect Robert Mueller yesterday, make sure to now.... At least the Caps made Ryan Getzlaf's day suck a little more back in 2003 (and look - an article about that 2003 Entry Draft that mentions Eric Fehr, though not in the context of "impact players").... Somehow Alex Semin is losing All-Star votes. You can't pin this one on Sarah Palin, elitist liberal media!... A couple of power rankings from yesterday, where the Caps are up two to seventh at CBSSports.com and up three to sixth at The Hockey News (where they refer to Jose Theodore as either an emergency contraceptive pill or a Huey Lewis & The News album - and I'm not sure which is worse).... Wait, I thought it was Ovechkin, not Nicklas Backstrom, who folks thought resembled the Geico caveman.... Thanks to sk8 for passing along this article on John Erskine.... Want to know how Ben Clymer ended up in Minsk? I mean, other than by being a sub-NHL caliber hockey player? He's happy to tell you.... Finally, for the fan who needs all of his (or her) Carrie Milbank pictures in one place, there's this (thanks, Phil, from all of us).


Unknown said...

Pure gold. Why this wasn't in the Post months ago is beyond me. (And a blog shall lead them...)

This is the biggest macro-story in Caps-land right now, full of implications for 17 and 92, the trade deadline, Alzner and more. It explains so much.

Anonymous said...

Don't look now, but 3 Montreal forwards are atop the voting and are double the next highest total.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I wish I could have made that little talk but its hard enough for me to get down there by 6:30 let alone 5:30.

I have wondered if things got so tight if the Caps might not resort to sending a guy down as a "paper transaction" on off days and recalling him for game days. I assume that if they were sent down, they would be unable to skate with the team since they were technically in Hershey even if they didn't actually travel down there.

Anonymous said...

@ anon - the Habs fans had automatic voting programs working for them for the 5 days or so. That's why the NHL added the word verification tool.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that post. It explains a lot.

I guess that means the pressure is really on everyone on this lineup to produce, especially with all the minor injuries we've seen so far this year. We just don't have any room to wiggle and no room for mediocre performances.

There've been enough rumors and enough chatter over the past several months to make me think that there's a good chance that the Caps are at least passively shopping Nylander. They can't do much of anything actively because of the NTC, but just because they're on a diet doesn't meean they can't look at the menu. I can't say that I have an especially informed or experienced opinion on the wisdom of shopping him, but I can see pros and cons of such a trade, and I'm not counting such a possibility out.

That said, who might be up on the trading block, given this? Who could we trade that isn't essential to the team that might give us a good chunk of change to work with? By essential, I mean "can't do without", not "brings something to the table".

NS said...

great info. we would have even more space if we dropped Juice, but maybe its still too early to decide. would it would really hurt Alzner to be called up to replace him?

and they should redo the voting for the All-Star game.

JP said...

@ TSFR: With the emergence of Flash, I'd think you'd have to look at Kozlov as a trade possibility, but for Clark's sucking (Clark, too, could be dangled, I believe, but at this point his value is low).

If Fehr can establish himself, I think you might as well pack the bags for one of those two veteran RWs.

Anonymous said...

"Fishman was surprisingly candid about the team's salary cap situation - the Caps, at that point, were $190,000 below the $59.2 million ceiling."

Is the cap really $59.2? I always thought it was around $56 million.

Anonymous said...

At what point does an injured player stop counting against the team? It is pretty likely that somebody will sustain a long-term injury and save the Caps a few dollars?

I'm assuming that is the IR but how long do you have to be hurt to be on the IR?

JP said...

@ b.: My bad - I don't know where I got that number from, but I've corrected it. Needless to say, it doesn't change how close the Caps are to it.

Joe said...


The LTIR exemption allows the team to raise its cap by the amount of the injured players contract. Hence, $56.7 million + $2.5 million (Pothier) = $59.2 Million.

JP said...

Thanks, Joe (I knew that number I had initially made sense somehow).

Anonymous said...

scott: I think they have to miss 10 games to be eligible for IR, JP or Sombrero Guy may be able to correct me if I'm wrong.

JP: Kozlov came to mind, although I admit I like what he does for Ovi. So did Clark, although they obviously can't say so - it's pretty bad when you're shopping your captain, but you're right that he doesn't have much value right now. I still think Nylander might be on the block.

Which brings up an interesting question - if Clark is traded or otherwise leaves the team, who gets the C? Fedorov is a candidate but I doubt he'll be around next year. Laich? Nylander if he's not traded?

Anonymous said...

@joe-thanks for the explanation although it would seem a bit easier if the league kept the same cap number for every team and just excluded the salary for players on LTIR. The bottom line doesn't change though; the Caps are stuck in cement with their current roster unless they make a move. Which leads me to believe that there may be a lot more to the Nylander rumors than previously believed.

JP said...

@ TSFR: I'll check on LTIR. I think you're right, that it's 10 games, but for some reason a number of days sticks in my mind.

Oh, and I think there's a better chance that Jaromir Jagr captains the Caps next year than Michael Nylander. Nothing about 92 says "C" to me. My guess? Ovie.

And perhaps the main point of this post is to recognize that any potential Nylander trade isn't just a swap of the named players - it also will have to free up cap space to allow a key call-up or another move, in essence making the trade Nylander for Player A plus Karl Alzner, for example.

Anonymous said...

Yet another outstanding post, JP -- thank you.

"The LTIR exemption allows the team to raise its cap by the amount of the injured players contract. Hence, $56.7 million + $2.5 million (Pothier) = $59.2 Million."

I was just about to advocate for some kind of forced retirement (the pink slip) for Potsie, to free up space, but this (which I didn't know -- thanks!) tells me that it'd be pointless.


1) Great/informative post. The salary cap numbers for ALL 30 teams should be updated and published daily on NHL.com so we all know whty certain moves are being made. Why is this not done?

Anonymous said...

Hey JP. Does Katie ever give you credit when she gets half her links from you're site?

Anonymous said...

regarding LTIR NHLSCAP
has some pretty good info...

Hopefully i didn't screw up the HTML.

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

Is it blasphemous for me to suggest that at 2.6m, Clark *has* to go? Can we commence woo-ing the Kings?

Anonymous said...

You're in rare form today, JP. Well done.

I'm late to the party, but as Tyler said in comment #1, Tarik earlier wondered aloud about why there weren't paper transactions involving Sloan, when all he add to do was a little digging.

DMG said...

Is it blasphemous for me to suggest that at 2.6m, Clark *has* to go?

No. 2.6 million is way, way too much for a guy who's only put up one point in 16 games and is a -4 (plus he only has 13 shots). Given he's the captain, and his trade value would be pretty much zero, I don't see him going anywhere this year. But I could see him sent off or waived in the offseason.

The Peerless said...

This is the single most helpful blog entry a Caps fan will read all year. Maybe (though hardly likely) it will snuff out every loopy trade idea anyone with a keyboard is inclined to propose or any callup any fan with a link to hersheybears.com is anxious to offer.

Every time a fan thinks about a move, the first thought in their hfboards.com-addled head ought to be, "what is the effect on the cap?"

Anonymous said...

Regarding Nylander and Clark, I'm more and more convinced that it's going to take probably half a season for them to fully recover from their injuries. I know from personal experience that Nylander's surgery was brutal. I had the same operation and my doc told me it could take up to a year to be fully recovered and all I do is sit at a desk. As to Clark, let's keep in mind he did virtually nothing on skates for close to six months. In the last couple of games, I thought I saw flashes of the old Chris, banging in the corners and foechecking like a demon. While I'd like to have some cap relief, let's not forget how giddy we were over the thought of having them both back this season. If they can return to previous form, they're going to be very valuable down the stretch. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

Anonymous said...

LTIR is 10 regular season games and 24 calendar days. Note it is "and" not "or". And when the player returns, the cap room needs to be available to fit the player that was on LTIR.

My assumption related to Sloan and the AHL paper transactions was that it related to the days counter for when his waiver-exempt status expires (the 30 days on the roster/10 games played rule.) At this point, he has played in 9 games so the next one he plays in will result in Sloan having to clear waivers if sent to the AHL. There are still days remaining on the 30 day counter, but that rule is whichever one is reached first.

And FWIW, some of us knew (and posted elsewhere) about the paper transactions regarding Sloan :)

Anonymous said...

"Every time a fan thinks about a move, the first thought in their hfboards.com-addled head ought to be, "what is the effect on the cap?""

Who isn't exactly factoring in the cap? I think everyone realizes the Caps have hardly any room to work with (unless you are referring to fans of other teams...which is possible). But if you're referring to Caps posters on HF...then you are incorrect.

JP said...

@ sk8: Why would it matter if it wasn't posted here? ;)

@ Peerless: Thanks for the lofty praise.

Anonymous said...

JP - I was not knocking you as you give credit when it is due; I was simply noting it has been discussed, including at HFBs.

I do question whether those moves have anything to do with cap related savings rather than to do with Sloan's waiver-exempt status. It's not clear to me that the Caps gained any cap space with those up and down paper transactions based on the way the LTIR exception works and the fact that the LTIR for Pothier is how the Caps have space to work with related to the cap.

Sidenote, but this is not unique to not announce the paper transactions where the player is not on the roster on the team's off days (no practice, etc.) Simply a paper transaction related to the waiver rule and in some cases, the cap calculations. And when the League calculates payroll, etc.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, Nylander has a no-trade clause, is on a playoff-contending team, and has a large family that he is loath to move around, being in school and all.

It's not like the Boudreau is going to sit him out and he demands to be traded, at least I don't see it that way. So why are trade rumors persisting?

Anonymous said...

I was at that chalk talk. Afterward, I asked Mr. Fishman the question that this article is about. "So, if everything stays the same, we won't be seeing Karl Alzner at VC this season?". His answer was "look back through history. Has there every been a season when everything stayed the same?"

Brian said...

a) JP, Paul Kukla sends his love.  Nice!

b) Based on the data from NHL Numbers, I think the paper transactions do mean something with regards to Tyler Sloan.  If he's officially on the Hershey roster, his salary for the day shouldn't count towards the Caps cap.

c) I think a lot of people are focusing on forwards to trade, but there are other assets to trade as well.  A lot of teams are looking for a puck-moving defenseman and if we could package one of those (Lepisto) with someone like Morrisonn, that's about $1.5M saved from the cap.

DMG said...

Regarding Nylander and Clark, I'm more and more convinced that it's going to take probably half a season for them to fully recover from their injuries.

That's a good point: both Clark and Nylander suffered serious injuries and it has to take a while to get into the flow of things at NHL speed. I also think Nylander is getting too much criticism. He could be playing better but he is tied for sixth on the team in points (fifth among forwards).

It's not like the Boudreau is going to sit him out and he demands to be traded, at least I don't see it that way. So why are trade rumors persisting?

Because people like to gossip, people don't do their research and there aren't any no trade clauses in video games.

Anonymous said...

Brian - What makes the invisible person(s) behind nhlnumbers an authority on this topic any more than a blogger or commenter? I wouldn't rely on that site, it's just one presentation of the numbers, based on other sources and an interpretation of the rules.

Reading the CBA clauses as it relates to LTIR and cap calculations, the examples show the team spending up to the cap before the LTIR $ kick in, so it is not clear to me how a team has any cap space to be making room on a prorated basis.

Simplistic example - if the team is 500,000 below the cap max and the player on LTIR has a 1.5M cap hit, the first .5M brings the team up to the cap and the team can exceed the cap by 1M.

In other cases, for example early last season, where the team did not exceed the cap and didn't have a player on LTIR, it is true that they were gaining additional cap space due to the prorating based on the days in the season for later in the season.

Given the Caps situation and reading the CBA, I am not clear how they could be gaining additional cap room based on the paper transactions related to Sloan's roster status.

It would be great if someone (hint hint JP) gets clarification from an authority on this topic as it will end the confusion.

OT: As noted above, there is a waiver implication to Sloan's days on the roster. Also, I think the prorated salary for Sloan is a factor as it relates to other issues and calculations (including what counts towards the league paid salaries, off season cap calculations, etc.)

chris said...

If we are agreed that LTIR kicks in after 10 games and 24 days, how many days/games has Feds missed? If it's close, does that mean the Caps should hold him out until we get to those numbers?

chris said...

I got run out of the room when I suggested that Kozlov, Clark and Morissonn be traded (albeit my suggestion was for Kovakchuk).

Why not for Bouwmeester? He's definitely leaving FLA and FLA has the cap space (I think).

DMG said...

@ chris,

If you were the Thrashers or the Panthers would you take either of those trades? Kozlov's contract is up after this year, Clark's underperforming and has a not insignificant cap hit and Morrisonn's a second pairing defenseman at best. If you're Atlanta or Florida and you decide to part with your best player you'd have to be getting more than a serviceable stay-at-home defenseman out of the deal for the long term.

Plus, even if Florida or Atlanta were desperate to move those guys, they'd find a better offer somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

More on the topic of LTIR and possibly making cap space...thanks to the Ducks.

Like I said, it wasn't clear to me they were creating space with the transactions, but these blog entries make it sound like they might be after all.

As I said in an earlier post, getting clarification on this point from a reliable source would be great!



and back to Sloan's situation: based on the waiver rules, if he plays in his 10th game tomorrow night, he will have to clear waivers to be sent back to the AHL

Hazardous said...

I got run out of the room when I suggested that Kozlov, Clark and Morissonn be traded (albeit my suggestion was for Kovakchuk).

Why not for Bouwmeester? He's definitely leaving FLA and FLA has the cap space (I think).

If he's DEFINITELY leaving FLA, I'd hate to say bye to Kozlov, but that trade would definitely work for me. If I'm florida and I KNOW I'm losing that guy, I take whatever I can get, probably. Though we'd just have to hope they haven't actually seen Morrisonn play... ever.

DMG said...

If Bouwmeester's leaving (which he probably is), Florida should get a return on him but they'd be able to get more than another guy who's going to be a UFA and a halfway decent defenseman; it's hard to exactly predict trade value in the salary cap world yet but I would think Bouwmeester is worth a first round draft pick or a couple decent prospects to a contending team.

Bottom line: the Panthers could get a better offer elsewhere