Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Callahan's Confusing Cap Count

So with just a little more than a day before Ryan Callahan and the New York Rangers face off in an arbitration hearing the question really is not whether or not the Rangers will sign Callahan but rather can the Rangers still afford him cap wise?

The most frustrating set of rules to be followed has to be how the NHL decides the who, what, where, why and how the NHL salary cap is applied. Now this is is being written not to scare anyone but rather because there really does need a simple process in figuring out salary cap issues.

So here is what we have been led to believe-

The Max amount allowed under the salary cap - 64,300,000

Everything after that part becomes confusing and full of loopholes and hidden curves that what is holding up any new contract for Ryan Callahan just might be the question of do the Rangers have enough space left to sign him?

Or how much do they have left without having to buyout the contract of another player? The most frustrating part about all of this is you can ask 10 different people this question and get 20 different answers.

Like most of you we follow the work of the people of and when we started this game of "follow the money" then this is what the Rangers according to Capgeek have available to spend which is $4,977,166 after salary and bonuses are added up for 21 players to equal $59,322,834.

Now really if Callahan is asking for 4.5 million a season then the Rangers would be safe but the part that has to make people nervous would be if Callahan goes into arbitration and wins 5 million. Then Houston we have a bit of a problem.

But it is not a problem if you have an idea how much money the Rangers really do have to spend as that 4,977,166 we think is an incorrect number based upon the roster that the Rangers are currently showing at their own website.

See that roster does not include Mats Zuccarello which frees up 1.75 million more to use which makes the open cap space now 6,727,166. But before you start celebrating just yet now we start tossing some curves at you.

The Ranger website shows only 13 forwards (includes Callahan), 2 goalies but only 5 defenders for a total of 20 players so can not spend everything just yet. You still need 2 more players to fill out the roster.

But here is where things start to get confusing for us and quite possibly a lot of people too. During the off-season you are supposedly allowed to overspend the max cap amount by 10%.

If that is correct then the Rangers supposedly can go to $70,300,000 before training camp and be safe. But that if that number is correct then the Rangers have $13,157,166 to spend.

But before anyone relaxes there are some numbers the Rangers we believe need to add in.

First Wade Redden's 6.5 million cap hit which lowers the cash on hand to 6,657,166 for Callahan and 2 more players. The Rangers have to budget out the money for all 3 but the problem is since they need at least 1 defender then taking the most expensive option which would be Tim Erixson then the Rangers are right back at the $4,907,166 for Callahan and 1 more player.

That 22nd player has to be paid at least the NHL minimum salary which for the 2011-2012 season is going to be 525,000 which would leave $4,382,166 for Callahan provided he does not wind up in arbitration and gets awarded more than that amount.

And while we are not 100% certain but the Rangers have to take cap hits for the number of days prorated that Michael Del Zotto and Chad Johnson spent on the Ranger roster last season.

But like we said we are not 100% certain but this part in Capgeek's FAQ section is either going to clear things up for you or confuse that much more:

According to Capgeek; we believe in his FAQ section this is how the cap is figured during the off-season

Teams can exceed the salary cap's upper limit by 10 percent during the off-season.

The following count toward the team's cap payroll:
  1. All players on one-way contracts, regardless of where (or if) they were playing the previous year.
  2. All players on two-way contracts, in proportion to the number of days spent on an NHL roster the previous season.
  3. All restricted free agents who have been extended a qualifying offer (while the offer is valid), with one-way qualifying offers counting in full and two-way qualifying offers counting as described in No. 2.
  4. All restricted free agents signed to an offer sheet (such players count against the team extending the offer sheet while it is still valid).
  5. All buyouts.

Example: A player with a cap hit of $500,000 and signed to a two-way contract was on an NHL roster for 94 days in the previous season, which was 188 days long. During the off-season, he will count [$500,000/188] x 94 = $250,000.

Example: A player with a cap hit of $1.25 million and signed to a one-way contract was assigned to the AHL in the previous season and spent no days on an NHL roster. The player will still count $1.25 million during the off-season.

Now see under that situation then we believe the Rangers have cap hits coming due to Michael Del Zotto, Mats Zuccarello and Chad Johnson because they spent portions of last season on the Ranger roster.

That is where the Rangers are now in our understanding of how the cap works finds themselves in trouble. Zuccarrello (1.75 mil), Del Zotto (1.087 mil) and Johnson (825K) spent enough times together to take up at least another million off the salary cap which means someone now has to go before the Rangers can seriously consider signing Callahan.

If you thought the Dubinsky situation was a mess then we believe Callahan's situation actually is an even bigger problem for the Rangers. Now believe us when we say that we totally hope that our math is 100% wrong but the feeling is that it is not.

The safest move for the Rangers is to seek waivers on Wojtek Wolski and hope someone takes him off their hands without a buyout. But if the Rangers are forced to buy out Wolski then it frees up 3.334 mil but with a 2011 cap hit of 467K.

Our math says it gives the Rangers 6.72 million to cover Callahan and 2 other players but it means that the Rangers will still need to make still more cuts if Tim Erixon or Mats Zuccarrello is to make the team.

It means one not both will make the roster as there is no space for both but it helps the cause of Del Zotto and Carl Hagelin who are softer cap hits for the Rangers. But we have to say that the Rangers just might be forced to make one more salary cutting deal.

Once Wolski goes then the only real salary that would give the Rangers any breathing space is going to be Dan Girardi with his 3.325 mil cap hit.

In any case we are quite happy that we are about 3 weeks from CHL training camps to open up and we can go back to watching the prospects.

But before we end this, there is one thing bugging us which is how come there has not been any kind of worry or to be blunt freak out about Callahan's situation like there was Dubinsky's?

Sure go ahead throw the "biased towards Dubi" but really how come Callhan is not being placed under the same microscope as Dubi was?

(Callahan courtesy New York Rangers)

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