A Major Loophole in the Salary Cap Could Help Brad Treliving Sign Patrick Kane

Julien Trekker
September 14, 2023  (9:01)

Patrick Kane is still available in the market, as it was expected. As he continues his rehabilitation process, whispers about his imminent signing grow louder. Interestingly, it was reported that the Maple Leafs could take advantage of a loophole in the salary cap.

The Nuances of the Salary Cap


Navigating through the NHL's salary cap regulations can be a hard task due to its intricate and evolving nature. Yet, one enduring rule is the 35+ regulation that concerns free agent acquisitions. Under this clause, NHL teams have the green light to sign players aged 35 or above to a standard contract set at $775,000.
Patrick Kane will be celebrating his 35th birthday on November 19th, and people didn't need more to think the Leafs would go after him. If the Maple Leafs can exercise patience and sign Kane post his 35th, it might be a home run. However, it's rather ambitious to assume Kane would play for the miminum wage. Fortunately, another rule might offer the Maple Leafs a workaround, enabling them to satisfy Kane's financial expectations without bloating the cap hit.

Performance Bonuses

To sweeten the deal for Kane, the Maple Leafs could lean into performance bonuses. Tied to many achievements such as games played, points, team success or goals scored, these bonuses aren't counted in the salary cap.
Let's say the Maple Leafs get a one-year 35+ contract for Kane at the minimum wage, enriched with an additional $3 million in performance bonuses. This maneuver could potentially reserve $3 million in their cap for the ongoing season. But as is the nature of such technicalities, there is a catch.
The accumulated $3 million bonus secured by Kane gets transferred to the next season's salary cap. If a player's bonus causes the team to overshoot the salary cap, the excess gets rolled over to the subsequent season. Effectively, the Maple Leafs would be disbursing funds based on Kane's prior performance.

It's also pertinent to note that the upcoming season is slated to see contract extensions for Auston Matthews and possibly William Nylander. Thus, the Maple Leafs would need to ensure fiscal responsibility for the forthcoming season.
Even if this technical avenue might not be the frontrunner in ushering Patrick Kane to Toronto, it remains a card on the table. Do you think Treliving should go after Kane?