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Major Advantage For Canadiens To Start Slafkovsky, ‘Paper’ Xhekaj

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Montreal Canadiens

With Juraj Slafkovsky cracking the Montreal Canadiens roster out of the gate, the Canadiens received an added advantage when calculating their cap structure.

With the way Juraj Slafkovsky’s contract is currently structured, he has a base cap hit of $950,000, a signing bonus of $92,500 and performance bonuses that could go as high as $3.5M. According to Puckpedia, Slafkovsky’s contract only counts for $950,000, which helped the Canadiens get within $300,000 of their maximized Long-term injury reserve relief space ($82.5M cap + Carey Price’s $10.5 offseason LTIR relief).

However, by having Slafkovsky on the opening roster, the Canadiens also gave themselves an extra $3.5M in their performance bonuses LTIR pool, which means that they’ll be able to call up players with ease without having their un-earned bonuses count against the club’s LTIR count.

To give you an idea of the importance of such a move, let’s go back to April 2021, when Cole Caufield joined the Canadiens at the tail-end of the season. Because the Montreal Canadiens didn’t have a performance bonus cushion, Caufield’s cap hit rose from $880,000 to $1.3M; which is his maximum cap hit (salary + performance bonuses). If the Canadiens had had the same amount of performance bonus room as they do now, Caufield would only have counted for $880,883 against the cap and would have been able to be inserted in the roster much sooner than the final 10 games of the season (remember how long the Canadiens had to wait?).

With Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Cole Caufield and Slafkovsky on the main roster, the Montreal Canadiens have given themselves over $4.6M in performance bonus space, which means they won’t have any cap penalties for rotating in their many youngsters.

The very reason Arber Xhekaj was the player the Canadiens chose to send down prior to finalizing their roster was due in large part to the fact that he is the only one of all the Canadiens’ prospects not to have any performance bonuses in his contract. Thus, sending him down on Monday night prior to putting Paul Byron on LTIR on Tuesday morning meant the Canadiens were to maximize both their LTIR and performance bonus cushions.

Furthermore, if the Canadiens were to send Slafkovsky or any other prospect with performance bonuses attached to their contract down to Laval, this performance bonus cushion does not decrease, meaning this is a benefit the Canadiens will carry with them all season.

That’s a very important detail, as the Canadiens have said they’d like to be fluid with the rotation of their youngsters between Montreal and Laval, and thus will thus have a lot of room to work with as they navigate through this season.

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