Walker, Laperriere replace Leighton on LTIR; What does this mean?

We interrupt this victory-over-the-Penguins party for some roster news. Sorry.

Matt Walker has been placed on long-term injured reserve. He joins Ian Laperriere there, while Michael Leighton comes off. Leighton is now on the active roster again. So what exactly do these moves mean for the Flyers?

We have to look at it in two ways: how it impacts the roster and how it impacts the salary cap. The roster stuff is easier to digest, so we'll start with that. All you need to know is that there's a 23-man limit on the active roster. Here's a list of how things stand at this hour.

- Forwards (13): Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Blair Betts, Andreas Nodl, Dan Carcillo, Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk, Ville Leino, Claude Giroux, Darroll Powe, Jody Shelley, Nikolay Zherdev.

- Defense (7): Braydon Coburn, Sean O`Donnell, Chris Pronger, Matt Carle, Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen, Oskars Bartulis.

- Goaltenders (3): Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton.

Last I checked, 13 + 7 + 3 equals 23. So, there's your active roster. Note that it doesn't include Laperriere or Walker, obviously. Their move to long-term IR doesn't impact the 23-man roster. The only thing that matters here is that Leighton has been added to the active roster, pushing the Flyers back to 23 men.

Where it gets more complicated, of course, is in the salary cap department. We're gonna need a jump.

 

Putting things as simply as possible, here's how it breaks down. The goal here is to figure out how much wiggle room the Flyers have with the salary cap, and to do so in a way where we can all understand the complex process.

For starters, the NHL calculates the salary cap on a daily basis, not a yearly basis like we've been trained to comprehend, so it's important to understand the difference between the daily salary cap and the yearly salary cap. While the yearly salary cap -- the number we all know -- is $59.4 million, the daily salary cap is $319,355.

Change your thinking. Don't think yearly. Think daily.

The process:

- The Flyers are over the salary cap. They have been all season. Right now, they're over by $4,071 each day. To get that number, we take the total daily cap hits of each player currently on the team ($323,426) and subtract the daily salary cap ($319,355) from the total.

- We have to include Walker and Laperriere in that total -- the $323,426 number -- because the Flyers are still paying their salary, and that money counts against the cap. This is where people get confused, and it's not helped by most of the reporting on this subject. Despite what you've read, the cap hit of players on LTIR counts against the salary cap.

- So why are the Flyers allowed to exceed the daily cap? That's where LTIR comes into play. The LTIR exception gives teams the permission to exceed the daily salary cap by the amount of dollars on LTIR.

- Okay, so let's calculate the LTIR exception. Take the daily cap hits of both Walker ($9,140) and Laperriere ($6,272). You get a total of $15,412. That's the amount the Flyers are allowed to go over the daily salary cap for as long as those two are on LTIR.

That's why the Flyers are currently allowed to be over the salary cap. They're allowed to exceed the cap by $15,412 and they're only currently exceeding it by $4,071. That means they can add $11,341 in daily spending right now.

That's where things get curious.

If you recall the chronology, Laperriere was placed on LTIR late Monday while Walker was placed on LTIR late Tuesday. That doesn't make sense. As we pointed out Monday night, adding Laperriere to LTIR didn't really fix much. Sure, it solved the immediate problem -- finding room to get Michael Leighton back on the active roster -- but it left them in a serious pinch, without enough wiggle room to add even a league minimum salary if need be. 

What would've made sense? Adding Matt Walker to LTIR instead of Laperriere would've made sense. It would have solved the original problem -- finding room to get Leighton back -- and it would've given the Flyers enough wiggle room to add a bit of salary if need be in the form of a call-up, perhaps an Eric Wellwood.

As we stand now, of course, BOTH players are on LTIR. That's strange.

I refuse to believe that Holmgren and his cohorts were unable to understand the differences between adding Lappy to LTIR and adding Walker to LTIR, and I refuse to believe that they were unable to foresee the scenario just laid out in the last two paragraphs.

I'm convinced that something else has to be brewing here. There have been plenty of rumors lately that the Flyers are shopping some players, even when there were internal solutions to their cap problems.

So what does that mean? If the Flyers were to make a move, they would still have to first remove a player from the 23-man roster. This can come in many forms - including adding them to the IR, waiving them, or trading them - but the team is then limited by the salary cap.  As we said above, the Flyers have $11,341 in daily LTIR exemption available.

This leaves the Flyers with a few options. First, if they were to make a trade, they could still technically take on additional salary. Hypothetically, if the Flyers were to trade Nikolay Zherdev ($10,753 daily cap hit), they could receive a player with a $22,094 daily cap hit. That equals a $4,109,484 yearly cap hit.

But that's dependent on the Flyers keeping both Walker and Laperriere on LTIR through the remainder of the season. And if they do, the Flyers will have ensured themselves of having a cap penalty next year, in the amount of any player bonuses earned this season. In other words, if the Flyers end the season with a player on LTIR, they are already spending any potential increase to next year's cap. And there isn't even a bonus cushion next year.

So while it could be true that "the Flyers have $2,016,667 in salary cap space", as a source told Tim Panaccio, there are a ton of caveats. First, the Flyers don't have any 'cap space'; they have room under the LTIR exception. Second, the Flyers cannot spend an additional $2,016,667 through the end of the year, as that's a "yearly amount". Since the season is already 70 days old, that number is actually $11,341 per day x the number of days left in the season ($1,315,556).

But even that is misleading, since the Flyers only have an LTIR "space" of $11,341 per day for as long as Matt Walker and Ian Laperriere are on LTIR. Since Walker is due back in 4-6 weeks, the Flyers will only have $2,201 in daily LTIR "space" as soon as he returns. Which is lower than the NHL minimum wage.

So when reading about any supposed "cap space" the Flyers have, they don't have any. They only have room under the LTIR exemption, which disappears when Matt Walker is healthy.  While it's completely possible the Flyers make a move and actually add salary in the process, just remember the last time the Flyers did that using LTIR "cap space":  They acquired Matt Carle while Danny Briere was on LTIR, then were forced to lose Glen Metropolit, Ossi Vaananen, Scottie Upshall, and a 2nd round pick in exchange for Dan Carcillo.

The joys of having "cap space" when you really only have an LTIR exemption.

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