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Cap Circumvention, Selective Enforcement, or Flawed Rule?

We have been told several time this year by the league’s Commissioner that we MUST dress our best possible roster, with the only consideration being a player’s AOV. All other considerations - discipline, durability, positional need/role - don’t matter. We were told that if we did not call up every player with the highest AOV we would be issued a strike for each game we were in violation of the rule.

 

Obviously, being new to the league, we want to ensure that we are honouring and maintaining the integrity of the league, and as a result will ensure that we dress the highest rated players, no matter what. Regardless of potential salary cap savings, positional need (e.g., a defensive forward to fill out the third or fourth line), or maintaining 2-way eligibility for new players, rest assured that the Knights will try to honour rule 10.5iii.

 

In Vegas, we were under the impression that the best-possible roster rule was of the utmost priority of the league. We could not have been more wrong.  

 

The last place team has an 80% chance of NOT getting the 1st overall pick. How can it be more important, in a league with three lottery picks, to prevent a team from doing poorly, but not be a priority to ensure that a team who could potentially win the championship follows the same rules? Indeed, all teams should be required to adhere to the same policy if we are to maintain the integrity of the league.  

 

To help make our case, let’s take a look at Florida, although, to be sure, they’re not the only ones guilty of manipulating this rule. Ekblad is the Panther’s second best defenceman, making $3.4M. For whatever reason, they do not have enough money to dress him everyday, and are allowed to keep him in the minors until they have accumulated enough cap space, at which time they will be required to call him up.

 

Why are they not required to dress their best possible roster, regardless of whether or not they are (arbitrarily) decided to be a contending* team? If they don’t have the cap space to dress their best possible roster then they should be required to trade their players until they are cap compliant.

 

*obviously for some teams the “contending” label is obvious, but for others, not so much. To determine at the beginning of the season, and throughout, the top 16 or 20 teams, the criteria is not as clear.

 

I can appreciate that there are some circumstances where one might feel justified in their exemption from this rule. In the hypothetical scenario that you’re at $44.5M, and then have a two-month injury to a player, should you be forced to make a trade so that a better rated player can stay up during the injury and you stay cap compliant? No, you shouldn’t have to. When a player has an injury where they’ll miss (the league can decide) 8 or 10 NEFHL games, or 21-24 days in the season, their team should be able to place them on long-term injured reserve, which can be used to exceed the salary cap.    

 

If we’re allowed to keep players in the minors until we have enough cap space to call them up, then I fully plan, once we’re better positioned to contend for the cup, to take full advantage of the leniency around enforcing this rule. In the future, if our window to contend is closing, then I could see us splurging (and overpaying) on several free-agent players, offering them big money for one year. Because we won’t have enough money to pay all the newly-acquired free-agents, and because their contracts will be so outrageous, they’ll be sent to the farm and not picked up by anyone via waivers. Once we’ve accumulated enough cap space we’ll call them up for the playoffs, completing changing the look, depth, and potential of our team. Sure, it might cost us $20M or $30M, but I’d be willing to bet every GM would trade more than that for a Cup. And it won’t matter if they’re bought out at the end of the year - their contract would’ve been up anyways. We don’t have enough cap space to have them on our team, so they’re allowed - because we’re a contending team - to have them in the minors, until we have the space for them.   

 

Now, I’d be more tolerant of the status quo if I wasn’t getting harped on for calling up a 66 OV player when I should be calling up a 67 OV, but this is ridiculous. If we’re going to be required to honour the best-possible roster rule, then hold all GMs accountable. If we’re going to be selective with who we choose to enforce the rule with then let’s stop pretending there’s any honour in the rule as it’s currently written and reach consensus on a new wording for the rule.