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How does CapGeek.com's in-season tracker work?

Tracking the cap for all 30 teams during the season is an inexact science because — among a variety of reasons — the NHL does not disclose official transaction dates and times or adjusted performance bonus amounts (updated daily to reflect amounts that have been ruled unattainable). Both pieces of information are required to ensure 100 percent accuracy in cap totals.

Nonetheless, CapGeek.com tracks the cap daily by estimating transaction dates and times. The result is the best possible estimation of cap space for all 30 teams.

CapGeek.com's sophisticated tracking system generates salary cap projections for each day of the season, which is a critical in understanding the ever-changing cap positions of teams with players on long-term injured reserve.

CapGeek.com rolls back the averaged amount of performance bonuses, meaning teams potentially exceeding the bonus cushion may have less cap space than indicated. Any bonuses exceeding the bonus cushion will see their cap space reduced by the excess; any bonuses earned at season's end will be tacked onto the team's cap payroll and, if their final total exceeds the upper limit, the excess will be carried into the following season as an overage penalty.

To understand how each team's cap count is calculated, think of a bank account. For the 2011-12 season, teams got a "deposit" of about $347,567 each day which can be spent on player salaries [$64,300,000 salary cap upper limit / 185 days in the season]. The difference left over is "payroll room," or the amount that has been "banked" for the future, if needed. "Payroll room" can never fall below zero, meaning teams can't borrow from the future to pay for today. Everyone on a team's roster counts toward the cap, including players on the:

  • Active roster
  • Injured reserve
  • Injured non-roster
  • Non-roster
  • Long-term injured reserve
  • Players sent to minors on conditioning assignment
  • Players on waivers, until such a time they are reassigned
  • Players on emergency recall
  • Players signed to 35-plus contracts, less $100,000 if assigned to minors.

NOTE: Players on a team's active roster, injured reserve, injured non-roster or non-roster as of 5 p.m. New York time on a particular day will count toward the team's upper limit. In addition, if a player practices or travels with his NHL team or plays in an NHL game prior to 5 p.m. and is then assigned to the minors, he will still count for that day.

Also included are:

  • Half cap hits of players lost on reentry waivers
  • Deferred salary and bonuses
  • Buyouts