Why Marcus Kruger Isn’t On LTIR Yet

Marcus Kruger hasn’t been put on long term injured reserve (LTIR) yet this season. Most people will remember last season, when the Blackhawks put Patrick Kane on LTIR and gained magical cap space. This has led most people to believe that LTIR equals extra cap space automatically. But this isn’t quite how it works.

Like most things involving hockey and the salary cap, it’s a little more confusing than it has to be. Timing is very important when placing a player on LTIR. This is because a team doesn’t gain cap space by putting a player on LTIR, instead it’s cap relief. The ideology is that if a player gets injured, a hockey team would be granted cap relief to recall a healthy player.

So when a player gets put on LTIR, the current cap space of the team means everything. Let’s jump into an example and then dive more into concept later.Let’s use hypothetical numbers.

  • NHL Salary Cap Limit $70 
  • Blackhawks Salary Cap $69 
  • Blackhawks Cap Space $1 
  • Kruger’s Cap Hit $1.5

Putting Kruger on LTIR at this point doesn’t mean the Blackhawks Cap Limit will rise to $71.5 to offset Kruger. Instead, cap relief is configured by taking Kruger’s cap hit minus available cap space. 

$1.5 minus $1 = $0.5 which is the amount the Hawks can go over the cap.

The new cap limit would be $70.5, only $0.5 over the NHL limit. 

It doesn’t matter what the Blackhawks do for the rest of the season, the $70.5 million limit stays the same. This is because Kruger’s cap relief doesn’t change with player acquisitions. When the Hawks put Kruger on LTIR, they lock in that set amount of cap relief.

More examples.

  •  NHL Salary Cap Limit $70 
  • Blackhawks Salary Cap $68 
  • Blackhawks Cap Space $2 
  • Kruger’s Cap Hit $1.5

With the Hawks having $2 million in cap space, they would receive no cap relief by putting Kruger on LTIR. If they did put him on LTIR in this scenario, the teams cap limit would still be locked in at $70 for the rest of the season. This is because LTIR grants CAP RELIEF, not cap space. Teams don’t get cap space by putting players on LTIR. Instead they get relief if they are near the cap.

Last example

  • NHL Salary Cap Limit $70 
  • Blackhawks Salary Cap $70 
  • Blackhawks Cap Space $0 
  • Kruger’s Cap Hit $1.5

In this scenario, the Blackhawks have zero cap space. This results in the team gaining all of Kruger’s $1.5 cap hit in cap relief. The new cap limit would rise to $71.5 for the rest of the time Kruger is on LTIR.

So as you can see, timing is everything when it comes to placing a player on LTIR. It is best to wait until the team is close to its cap limit, that way they can gain the most cap relief.

So the plan the Blackhawks have with Kruger is to wait until they are close to the cap to put him in LTIR. This could happen in the next couple days if the teams adds more than just Andrew Ladd. 

LTIR wasn’t meant for teams to gain cap relief for trade deadline moves. The idea of LTIR is a tool to use when a player gets injured, yet the team has no cap room to add a player. What Stan Bowman did with Patrick Kane’s cap relief last season was a trick he used. It’s not what LTIR was meant for.

But it is a useful trick indeed.