With less than a million in payroll to shed to him back in the lineup, expect to see Scott Neidermayer in a Ducks uniform sooner than later.
All right, the CBA has everybody whipped when it comes to the NHL's tagging rules. But, after spending much of the day trying to figure it out, Anaheim Ducks GM David McNab was kind of enough to take the time to help clear a few things up when it comes to the tagging rules and the return of Scott Niedermayer.
One of the first mistakes people make, McNab said, is to assume that the Ducks have $53.3 million committed in salaries and are $3 million over the salary cap for next season. It simply isn't, well, that simple.
When it comes to the Ducks cap room for next season, you have to take into account tagging dollars. And this is how it works.
With Niedermayer's pro-rated salary of $4.3 million on the books for this season, the Ducks essentially find themselves $2 million under the $50.3 million salary cap.
Now here's where it gets interesting. Teams can earn tagging dollars based on the contracts they have expiring at the end of the season. The contracts can, in effect, be credited to the next season, thus the tagging concept becomes a factor.
Essentially, the Ducks currently have about $8.6 million in tagging dollars because Chris Kunitz ($1.05 million), Ryan Getzlaf ($739,000), Drew Miller (654,000), Corey Perry (633,000), Brian Sutherby ($599,000), Jonas Hiller ($2.1 million) and Joe DiPenta (700,000) have their contracts expiring this season. They also get tagging dollars for buying out Tyler Wright ($329,000) and for other players who have spent parts of this season with the Ducks.
However, the Ducks have spent a total of about $11.5 in tagging dollars on contract extensions to Chris Kunitz ($3.725 million), Ryan Getzlaf ($5.325 million) and the remainder of Niedermayer's $6.75 salary ($2.45 million).
When you subtract the amount earned from the amount spent, the Ducks are $2.9 million in the red in tagging dollars. But the $2 million they're saving on the salary cap this season is applied to that amount and that means the Ducks must get rid of about $900,000 in salary before they can activate Niedermayer for playing duty.
This also explains why the Ducks put Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers a couple of weeks ago. Because Hiller has such a big cap hit (mostly because of performance bonuses that he almost certainly won't achieve), the Ducks needed to get his salary onto the books in order to get the tagging dollars they needed to bring Niedermayer back.
So, there you go. That explains it.
Do you feel better now? I know I do.