NHL warns teams against trading for injured players to skirt salary cap

After letting it happen for years, the NHL has apparently decided to "crack down" on salary-cap circumvention with the trade deadline just days away.

The NHL says it will "closely scrutinize" all trades ahead of the March 3 deadline in an effort to ensure injured players aren't being stashed on long-term injured reserve — a common cap-skirting method now used by many clubs across the league.

Per Sportsnet, concerns have reportedly been raised by some NHL clubs over injured players being acquired and subsequently stashed on long-term injury reserve until the postseason begins, resulting in potential salary-cap circumvention as the cap goes out the window when the regular season concludes and isn't applied during the playoffs.

The NHL reportedly insinuated in a memo sent to all 32 teams on Tuesday that any trades involving an injured player could be kiboshed by the league if the acquiring team doesn't have the salary cap space to activate said player before the end of the regular season.

TSN hockey insider Chris Johnson noted that "while the NHL isn't outright banning any such moves, it says it will investigate transactions to see if they constitute circumvention of the CBA."

NHL front offices have been finding ways around the salary cap for years. (Getty)
NHL front offices have been finding ways around the salary cap for years. (Getty)

This issue of stashing players on LTIR until the postseason really came into focus two seasons ago when the eventual Cup-champion Lightning took some heat for being nearly $18 million over the cap during their championship run, before a league investigation found no wrongdoing on Tampa's part. The Maple Leafs also acquired Riley Nash on April 2021 as he was still recovering from a knee injury before activating him when the playoffs began.

Ducks forward Adam Henrique, Blue Jackets' Gustav Nyquist and Canadiens forward Sean Monahan are among the players on LTIR who could be moved over the next few days. Henrique and Nyquist in particular have reportedly garnered interest from multiple teams who could potentially be scared off by the NHL's new cap-circumvention crackdown.