Extended Length Of 2021-22 NHL Season Will Reduce Potential Daily Salary Cap Savings Accrued From Certain Roster Moves

Screen cap: Youtube/Capitals

It’s no secret the Washington Capitals are once again dealing with very little salary cap space as they enter the 2021-22 season. As of today, the Capitals are just $668,739 under the salary cap.

In addition to the tight cap space, the Capitals will also have to contend with a longer season, which ultimately reduces the potential daily salary cap savings for certain roster moves. According to PuckPedia, this season is expected to be 200 days, for salary cap calculation purposes, as the Olympic Break (19 days) counts towards each team’s salary cap calculations. This is 14 days longer than the usual 186 days.

The additional 14 days decrease the overall value of daily cap savings, requiring more time (days) for teams to accrue salary cap space over the course of the regular season. Each day under the cap is worth less than last year, meaning sending a player down for one day provides less benefit this year (1/200) compared to the usual (1/186) for the 2019-20 season and 1/116 for last year’s abbreviated season.

While the salary cap and individual player salaries are often viewed in a season-long, perspective, the salary cap total for each team is actually a summation of daily calculations during the course of the season. The salary cap is totaled each day by summing the salaries on the active roster divided by the total days in the season. As a result, in a longer season, each daily cap expense is worth less than in a normal year. In addition, players called up from minors will get paid less per NHL day (1/200) than a usual season (1/186).

As Pro Hockey Rumors points out, “daily tolling also impacts teams with ample cap space far less and there are currently a dozen teams who sit $7MM or more below the cap ceiling with at least nine or ten expected to stay in that range. However, for the Maple Leafs, Flames, Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, Bruins, Panthers, Blues, Avalanche, Kings, Canucks, and Wild, this lesser daily cap expenditure is not irrelevant. A team like Toronto, which is in fact currently over the salary cap limit with a projected roster than includes only one waiver-exempt player in defenseman Rasmus Sandinwill have possibly their only source of additional cap relief diminished. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently have just $122K in cap space with a projected roster than contains only the minimum contract of Radim Zohorna as waiver-exempt, are in the same boat.”


For example, a player making $1,000,000 that is sent down to the minors for one day this upcoming season is worth $24,000 of annual salary cap space savings, which can be added to a teams total at the trade deadline (41 days left in the year). Last year, a $1,000,000 player sent down for one day accrued $37,000 in salary cap savings at the deadline.

However, as PuckPedia points out, expect teams to send players down to minors during the Olympic break in February. A $1,000,00o player sent down for the 19 days of the Olympic break will save $95,0000 in slay cap space, which is worth $463,000 annual cap hit that can be added at the trade deadline (assuming deadline is the usual 41 days from season end).

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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