A Complicated Story Regarding the Hypothetical Acquisition of Erik Cole
Tyler J. Altemose
I've said it before and I'll say it again: what tangled webs Flyers trade rumors weave.
Yesterday, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly and Sam Carchidi of Philly.com both explained how sources (there's that magic word again) indicated that the Flyers had interest in Carolina Hurricanes RW Erik Cole. Both cautioned readers, however, that no move would likely be made unless Carolina fell out of playoff positioning. The Hurricanes currently sit one point out of 8th place in the Eastern Conference.
Early this afternoon, Geoff Detweiller of Broad Street Hockey--one of the few people I am willing to admit has a better grasp of the CBA than me--posted this lovely gem which deceptively explained that the Flyers cannot afford Cole.
I use the term "deceptively" for a reason.
Detweiller explained that, according to the CBA, the Flyers cannot afford the remainder of Erik Cole's $2.9M cap hit because they will only have a little under $2.5M in cap space.
"But Ty. I thought you said the Flyers had $3.6M in cap space!"
Yes, yes I did. And I was right about that. Let me explain the numbers to you. Then I'll explain the relevent CBA articles Detweiller was referencing. After that is all done, I'll explain how technically he's right, but not really.
For those of you who don't know, Matt Walker has been placed on waivers, and as of 12:01EST the Flyers were looking at $13,402 in daily cap space.
What I forgot about, and what Detweiller mentioned, is that the Flyers are making up for already being over the salary cap. According to Capgeek, the Flyers have spent $36,471,590 so far this season. The problem is that the upper limit at this point in the season is only $36,406,452. Do the math, and the Flyers are over the cap by $65,138.
But never fear, because in 5 days we'll be under the cap (for the first time since 2007). $13,402 multiplied by 5 gives you $67,010. Subtract the $65,138 and you have a remainder (banked cap space) of $1,872 on 2 February with 67 NHL days to go.
From there, you take that $13,402 again and multiply it by the 67 remaining days to get $897,934. Add on that "remainder" of $1,872 and you have a grand total of $899,806 in banked cap space at year's end.
What kind of yearly salary does that equate to? First, take the $899,806 and divide it by 67 (the number of remaining NHL days). That gets you $13,430 if you round up. Technically speaking, that's the highest daily cap hit the Flyers can take without going into their LTIR relief, assuming there are no other roster changes.
From there, take the $13,430 and multiply it by the total number of NHL days (186). This comes out to an annual figure of $2,497,969 rounded off.
Throw in Lappy's estimated $1.1M salary and you come to the max acquisition figure of $3.6M.
Now that we have the numbers figured out, let's throw Detweiller's wrench into the equation. He gives a few CBA clauses, but here are the most relevent.
50.5(e)(v): Acquiring SPCs After the Commencement of a Season, Via Trade or Waivers. "In order for a Club to acquire a one-year SPC after the commencement of a season (i.e., that is expiring at the conclusion of the then-current League Year), the Club must have Payroll Room equal to or in excess of the remaining Player Salary and Bonuses to be earned by the Player under the SPC."
50.5(e)(i): "Payroll Room." "A Club's Payroll Room is the amount by which the Upper Limit exceeds the Club's Averaged Club Salary. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein contained, no Club may enter into or assume an SPC, enter into an Offer Sheet, extend a Qualifying Offer, or engage in any other Player transaction that commits the Club to Player Salary and Bonuses for which the Club does not have Payroll Room (A) except as permitted by Section 50.5(h) below with respect to the "Performance Bonus Cushion" and Section 50.10(d) below with respect to the Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception; and (B) subject to the provisions set forth in Sections 50.5(e)(iv), (e)(v) and (f)(iii) below."
He goes on to explain why you cannot factor in LTIR relief in the acquisition of a player mid-season.
"The problem is that 50.10(d) allows for the Club to exceed the Upper Limit. LTIR does not move the Flyers' Upper Limit, thus creating more space between the Upper Limit and the Averaged Club Salary, but rather allows the Averaged Club Salary to go over the Upper Limit. In plain language, this is the "LTIR does not take the cap hit off the cap, it allows you to go over" part. As such, when calculating Payroll Room to determine if a Club may acquire a player via trade, LTIR does not get added to the actual Payroll Room."
Detweiller's "Deception" and the Solution
Herein lies the "deception". Detweiller is totally right about what he said. But the problem is that the Flyers only have this quandary if Carolina agrees to give up Cole for draft picks. If any roster player ends up going to Carolina in exchange for Cole, the Flyers would be perfectly within their rights to go along with the trade. And in any case, it's very highly unlikely that the Flyers find themselves in a situation of getting Cole for mere draft picks.
So the solution is simple--don't try to acquire Erik Cole simply for draft picks.
I have to give Detweiller credit. He knows his stuff. Not only that, he's pretty darn good at reeling readers in with the titles to his articles. Keep up the good work, you tricky son-of-a-gun.