How Luongo's contract in retirement impacts the Canucks' salary cap

Jun 26 2019, 7:57 pm

It’s the scenario that Canucks fans have been playing out in their heads for years.

Roberto Luongo announced his retirement on Wednesday at the age of 40, with three years remaining on his contract.

It means that both the Canucks and Florida Panthers will have to incur a recapture penalty, which will affect both teams’ salary caps for the next three seasons.

The Canucks will get hit the hardest, with $3,033,206 counting against their cap each year for the next three seasons. Meanwhile, the Panthers will incur a $1,094,128 penalty annually.

Vancouver had been paying $800,000 of Luongo’s salary, as they retained money in the 2014 trade with the Panthers.

Luongo signed a 12-year contract extension in 2009, with the first year of the deal coming into effect during the Canucks’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.

The deal carried a team-friendly $5.3 million cap hit, but Luongo would be paid above that amount for the first eight years of the deal. Luongo’s salary was $10 million in the first year, before dropping to $6.7 million for the next seven seasons. He made $3.382 million last season and was scheduled to make $1.618 million next year, and $1 million in each of the final two years of the deal.

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The new collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 2012-13 lockout retroactively penalized teams that took on contracts like Luongo’s. It sunk his value, which was terrible timing as the Canucks were looking to trade the future Hall of Famer at the time.

Cap hits are calculated by dividing the total value of the contract (ie. $64 million) by the number of years of the deal (ie. 12 years). ‘Salary cap recapture’ essentially recalculates what the player’s cap hit should have been – given how many years the player played – and charges that to the team retroactively.

Luongo completed nine years of the deal, earning a salary of $60,382,999 so his cap hit should have been $6,709,111.

Unlike some other players that have bowed out of the final years of their deal by going on long-term injury reserve — thus not counting towards the salary cap — Luongo has indeed retired.

The Canucks shouldn’t be hurt too badly by the contract in each of the next two seasons, as they have cap space to work with. It’s in the third year, in 2021-22, when the Canucks will need to re-sign Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes (not to mention Brock Boeser will be on a new deal), when the team could have major issues.