The ramifications of Chris Pronger being knocked out of action for the season and playoffs with severe post-concussion syndrome for Philadelphia are many. The effect it could have on GM Paul Holmgren and how the team can budget their payroll, however, is massive.
Pronger’s contract is a 35-and-over deal that comes with a cap hit of $4.9 million for the next five seasons. That means his cap hit isn’t going anywhere whether Pronger is playing or not. If Pronger is forced to retire from his ailment or if he takes his time and returns next season or the season after, that cap hit is there no matter what.
What can the Flyers do about that? They don’t have many options, but as Bob McKenzie said on TSN’s Insider Trading last night, Philadelphia could follow in the Boston Bruins’ footsteps in how they’ve handled Marc Savard’s post-concussion absence.
Rather than seeing Pronger retire and leave a cap hit the team can’t do anything about, they can keep him on the roster and put him on LTIR to free up his cap hit to make use of. Savard doesn’t have a 35+ contract, but the Bruins are able to use LTIR to their advantage and not have to worry about Savard’s contract to make a move when needed thanks to it
It might seem like a sneaky way of getting around a rule that was meant to ward teams off from giving older players long contracts, but loopholes were meant for exploiting. After all, they’ve been using this move already in handling Ian Laperriere’s extended absence, and using it for Pronger would make too much sense.