With the drop of the puck last Wednesday, the NHL is now officially underway. This has made curfew in Quebec much more bearable, but more importantly, the Habs have their third game of the season tonight, and it’s the second game against McDavid and Draisaitl. The 2020-21 NHL season will be an anomaly but it will be a ride for everyone, especially for those that are on the Taxi Squad and those managing it.
The Taxi squad is a new, COVID protective measure meant to give teams expanded rosters to carry with them on road trips to protect against any outbreaks. At the same time, this presents a new set of CBA and Salary Cap restrictions to manage. Looking at the Canadiens front office this task falls on the shoulders of John Sedgwick. The Habs VP of Hockey Operations is one of the best in the business at this, and his ability to play Cap gymnastics will be a massive asset for the team.
This side of the sport is harder to follow because math was not everyone’s favourite subject in school, however I will do my best to make this as English as possible. Let’s start things at the top with where the team is right now:
Canadiens Salary Cap
Montreal Canadiens Cap Hit : $80 770 670
Montreal Canadiens Cap Space : $729 330
Montreal Canadiens Deadline Cap Space : $3 253 934
(Courtesy – Capfriendly.com)
These are all projections based on the team’s Current Daily Cap. The Cap Hit is based on the roster at the current moment, and assumes that the roster will remain constant for the season (Capfriendly.com). At the moment this includes Romanov (who was called back up as I edit this article) which will help illustrate the implications of having a Contract on the Roster vs Taxi Squad later in this article. By constantly moving players up and down between the Active Roster and Taxi Squad, the team can save a little bit of money on a daily basis.
When it comes to the Cap and the Daily Cap hit, there are a few things to keep in mind. To determine the Daily Cap hit all we have to do is divide a player’s total Contract Value by the total number of days in the season. This season, that magic number is 116 (January 13th to May 8th).
Player’s on the Taxi Squad do not count towards the Cap, but depending on their contract, they may be required to clear waivers. Since the Taxi Squad is considered part of each team’s minor league system, every contract sent to the Taxi Squad must go through the same process as being sent to the AHL. In plain terms, any player on a 1-way contract must clear waivers, where as a player on a 2-way contract (or ELC) does not. An important caveat is that once a player clears waivers, they do not need to clear waiver again unless they either play 10 consecutives games, or remain on the active roster 30 days. Something that Marco D’Amico explains during his interview with Terry and Alex the Intern!
If we take a look at the Habs roster, here are a list of Habs players that can move up and down to the Taxi squad without having to clear waivers. In this list I will point out the Entry Level Contracts (ELC) along with each player’s Cap Hit, Daily Cap Hit and Minor League salary (what player’s get paid while on the Taxi Squad).
The remaining Cap hit is based on the the number of days remaining in the NHL calendar (including today, that is 111 days). This is important when trying to plan ahead for when you can and cannot call up a player. For example, if we compare this list to the Habs current available Cap Space, the team in theory can now fit Corey Perry. This is naturally assuming my math is correct.
Another thing to highlight, is that for context, here are the Habs Salary Cap projections without Romanov in the lineup:
Montreal Canadiens Cap Hit : $79 915 044
Montreal Canadiens Cap Space : $1 584 956
Montreal Canadiens Deadline Cap Space : $7 071 342
(Courtesy – Capfriendly.com)
First thought that came to mind, it is incredible how much an ELC can affect the Cap associated projections. Additionally, if you look at the difference in the teams Total Cap Hit, this number is slightly lower than the Full Value of his contract. Romanov’s promotion to the Canadiens main club added $855,626 to the team’s Cap Hit. Just take a look at the final column above. Basically what this means is that every time the Habs recall Romanov to the roster, his remaining Cap Hit will be what goes on the books. At the same time, the Habs will save the accrued Daily Cap hit for the days that Romanov is on the Taxi Squad.
Pinch every penny!
Final note, the Deadline Cap Space has a multiplier factor to it because it is meant to reflect the total Full Value Contract that the team’s projected Daily Cap Hit Can afford. Not sure if I helped or made it worse there but let’s say that Habs end up with $4.5M at the deadline. This means that they have enough money left to pay the Daily Cap hit of a player who’s Full Value contract on the season is $4.5M. This just goes to show the sort of Cap gymnastics the Habs plan to play this season in order to maximize the teams Cap Space.
My assumption would be that the Habs will leave any player not expected to be in the starting line up in the Taxi Squad to build Cap Space for the Trade Deadline. Of the player’s on the list, the Habs have done a good job of protecting the veteran player’s money. Perry, Frolik and Lindgren all receive their full salaries if they are sent down to the minors which definitely helps ease the pain of this simple paper transaction. As for the rookies, they play for the Habs, they will be taken care of, this should come as no surprise.
I have said repeatedly in the past that I do not foresee there being a very strong trade market this season. However, since we are on the topic, the Trade Deadline is set for April 12th this year. While we may not see the Habs actually pull the trigger on anything, Cap Space is something you would rather have and not need, rather than need and not have.
Lots of hockey talk this week in the Hot Sauce Sports World! For those looking for a quick break the boys at Not Sauce For Work talk NFL Wild Card Weekend, NBA News and they sit down for a great interview with TSN690 Personality Sean Campbell. This list of accomplishment and job titles in his twitter bio are nothing compare this his great sense of Humour. Peeze, Terry and Eagle sit down with the Co-Host of the Post Game Pints Podcast (with fellow 690 colleague Mitch Gallo!) to talk Beer, Habs, Packers, Moe Khan’s tweets and the Night of the Wandering Moose!
If you just want to fill that hockey fix, I am proud to introduce for the first the time, The Healthy Skratch Podcast. Spencer, Tyler and Kristian attempt to bring civility to the Habs/Leafs rivalry while providing in-depth hockey analysis! The Boys dropped their inaugural Podcast this weekend, and stay tuned for their articles as well!