The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced a trade. The Lightning traded Ryan Callahan to the Ottawa Senators for goaltender Mike Condon. In addition, the teams are swapping picks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, with the Lightning receiving a sixth-round pick and the Senators receiving a fifth-round pick. With both teams’ expected finishes this coming season, that means a drop of most likely 5-10 spots in the draft for the Lightning.
Condon has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $2.4 million. Ryan Callahan also has one year remaining with a salary cap hit of $5.8 million. Callahan however has a career-ending back injury which meant he would have been on Long Term Injured Reserve this season.
The one weird part of this is that the Senators are normally a team that makes trades to save actual cash paid. In this case, Mike Condon was owed $3 million in salary for the upcoming season. Callahan by contrast is still owed $4.7 million in salary. The potential explanation is that this move will help Ottawa make sure that they remain above the cap floor, which is set at $60.2 million. Prior to the move, they were within half a million of cap floor.
As Steve Lloyd explains though, insurance on Callahan’s contract though will reduce the amount of money that the Senators owe to Callahan to just under $1 million so they will be saving actual salary as well.
Callahan’s cap hit is 5.8m, but he’ll make 4.7m in real money. Since he’ll be in LTIR with a career ending back injury, insurance will pick up 80% of that, which means the Sens will be on the hook for around $940,000.— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) July 30, 2019
Condon’s cap hit is 2.4m, but he’ll make 3m in real money.
Rumors have been out there that the Lightning were still looking to trade Callahan’s contract to make the math a little bit easier for the team in regards to the salary cap this season. Long Term Injured Reserve isn’t impossible to deal with, but it does make things more complicated when trying to get everything rounded out at the beginning of the season as I’ve discussed here on Raw Charge.
Condon has been an up and down goaltender through his career, often alternating between good seasons and bad seasons. He only played in two NHL games last season for the Senators, and one for the AHL’s Belleville Senators as he struggled with a hip injury for most of the season. Overall in his NHL career he has started 117 games and appeared in 129 with a 45-58-17 record and a .905 SV%.
The Lightning have also complicated their goaltender situation with this trade and it’s clear that at least another move is very likely. Either that, or the Lightning are hopeful they can pass multiple goaltenders through waivers and somehow end up with a good spread of talent between the NHL and AHL.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is obviously locked in as the NHL starter. The Lightning still have last year’s back-up Louis Domingue under contract and added Curtis McElhinney after free agency opened up. The Lightning have Martin Spencer and Scott Wedgewood signed; they were expected to be the tandem for the Syracuse Crunch. The Lightning also have Zach Fucale on an AHL contract, and he is expected to be the fifth goaltender serving in the ECHL with the Orlando Solar Bears.
If Louis Domingue made it through waivers, he would cost $75,000 against the salary cap while in the minors. For Condon, that number would be $1.325 million. Domingue could still be traded to a team looking for a back-up goaltender after he resurrected his career due to a downfall in Arizona with the Coyotes. Condon, because of his injuries last season, could certainly pass through waivers.
Now to the salary cap implications. The Lightning have just made it a lot easier to sign Brayden Point. Assuming that the 12th and 13th forward spots are assumed by two players making minimum salary (like Danick Martel, Carter Verhaeghe, and Cory Conacher), and burying Condon in the minors, the Lightning now have $11.2 million in salary cap space to sign Brayden Point and Adam Erne. This is more than the roughly $8.2 million I had been projecting when accounting for Callahan’s LTIR status.
It may still take a little bit of time for Julien BriseBois to work out the final details with Brayden Point and his agent, but it could come sooner rather than later now that the Lightning have created extra breathing room under the salary cap to get the deal done. We’ve also been waiting on Adam Erne, a restricted free agent who was eligible for salary arbitration but did not elect to do so, and has yet to be signed.