With the announcement that Nashville Predators defenseman Luke Schenn will be out for 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury, Nashville Hockey Now decided to take a look at the distinctions between injured but on the active roster, injured reserve and long-term injured reserve.
This is the second part of our series looking at different roster movement strategies. In Part I, we explained the Predators’ roster options for waiver- and non-waiver exempt players.
When a player is injured or ill, teams have the ability, but not the obligation, to place that player on IR, which opens an active roster spot. If the Predators placed Schenn on IR, he would be removed from Nashville’s 23-man active roster and free up an open spot for a call-up from the Milwaukee Admirals.
We discussed which of those players could be among the first call-ups last week in our staff picks.
Injured-reserve designations have no bearing on the salary cap; however, so Schenn’s cap hit remains the same regardless. Any player on IR may conduct all activities with the team, including traveling and practicing, but cannot play.
The only restriction for teams to use an IR designation is that the injured player must be out at minimum of seven calendar days to qualify. Those seven days may be backdated in the event medical records indicate a player was injured earlier and the designation was made later.
Additionally, any non-waiver exempt player called up is subject to the normal waiver process.
Long-term IR, on the other hand, can be quite complicated. LTIR is a form of injured reserve that permits teams to exceed the salary cap if a player is to miss at minimum of 10 NHL games and 24 calendar days during the season.
Teams are not granted additional salary cap, only cap relief in the form of LTIR pool value. The player placed on LTIR still has a cap hit throughout their injury status though; it does not disappear.
The pool value is determined by subtracting the amount of cap space a team had when the season began from the player’s cap hit when placed on LTIR.
Long-term IR has been highly debated with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights leveraging its capabilities to the max in their respective Stanley Cup-winning seasons.
Nashville currently has $7.849 million in projected cap space with a bit extra (a little over $8 million) in current cap space to avoid reaching the upper limit if nothing were to change with its existing contracts by the end of the season.
The Predators would need to use all of their existing cap space prior to placing any player on LTIR to receive any kind of substantive benefit. This is why a large number of paper transactions happen at the beginning of the season with teams battling cap issues and LTIR questions seeking to get as close to the cap ceiling as possible to avoid wasting any cap space.
If Schenn were to be placed on LTIR with his $2.75 million cap hit, the Predators would lose the roughly $8 million in current cap space available because it would leave them with a negative LTIR pool ($2.75M – $8M = -$5.25M). There cannot technically be a negative LTIR pool amount, but for understanding purposes this is how it would look. In other words, the Predators with Schenn on LTIR would have a modified cap hit of $78.35M (current hit of $75.6M + Schenn’s cap hit of $2.75M), thus a lower cap hit than the ordinary limit of $83.5M.
Due to Schenn’s projected timeline to return, the Predators are likely to place Schenn on IR and recall a player from Milwaukee to fill his roster spot.
Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10