Since the various reports of a Roberto Luongo trade to Toronto aren't already insane enough...let's throw some gasoline on the fire!
One of the intricacies of the new yet-to-be-ratified CBA is the "cap-recapture system." Basically, this affects players with long-term deals (minimum five or six years, I'm not 100 per cent certain).
Either way, Luongo's counts because his is a 12-year deal. Therefore, there will be a penalty if he retires before the contract is completed.
How does it work?
The simplest way to explain it is this: Let's assume the Canucks and Maple Leafs make the deal. Vancouver would be responsible for the "cap benefit" that it received in the first two years. Toronto would be responsible for any remaining "cap benefit" it gets as a result of contract structure if he walks away early.
Here's the math. Luongo salary:
2010-11: $10 million US
That's a total of $16,716,000.
Luongo's cap hit is $5,333,333. You multiply it by how many years he spent with the Canucks, so, in this case, that figure is doubled. That's $10,666,666.
What was the cap benefit to Vancouver? You take the actual salaries paid ($16,716,000) and subtract the total amount of cap space the Canucks used ($10,666,666). The answer is $6,049,334.
That is the "cap benefit" Vancouver received in the first two years of Luongo's contract. The key -- and the thing I had to check -- is that this number has zero immediate effect on the Canucks' cap situation. It is basically "frozen" and does not become an issue unless he retires before his contract is up.
So let's say he happily goes to Toronto (and really, who wouldn't happily go there?), spending seven seasons there before saying, "I've had enough" in the summer of 2019.
Actual cash numbers
Here are his actual cash numbers for those years:
2012-13 through 2017-18: $6,714,000
He would then walk away from three years at a combined $3,618,000. And, it's time for the penalties.
Vancouver's "frozen" $6,049,334 thaws. It is divided by the number of "unused" years in Luongo's contract -- three. The figure is $2,016,445. The Canucks will get a "cap penalty" at that amount for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.
As for Toronto, the Maple Leafs will pay Luongo $43,666,000. (I'm not pro-rating this year's lockout-infected salary. Going for the easy math here). The total cap hit for those seven seasons is $37,333,331. The difference is $6,332,669. Divide it by the three unused years in Luongo's contract, and the penalty per season is $2,111,890 -- slightly larger than Vancouver's.
I wasn't really tuned into the outside world today, but heard people were wondering if it made more sense for Vancouver to buy out Luongo. These figures make it seem non-sensical. First of all, with the opt-out clauses attached to the length of the new CBA, there's no guarantee the rules will be the same by the time the penalties are scheduled to take effect.
Second, there may just be a loophole. From what I understand, Long-Term Injury Reserve still exists. (For example, it allows Chris Pronger to come off the Philadelphia cap while he recovers from concussions).
God forbid Luongo (or anyone else) goes through that. But he will be 40 in the summer of 2019. Who knows what happens to a goalie's body by then? Maybe he's had enough and is battling some nagging groin or hip or knee problem. He goes on LTIR, still gets paid and neither Toronto nor Vancouver gets any kind of penalty.
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