This is an amazing save by the Leafs and MLSE, flexing their financial muscle to expunge the worst contract mistake in team history.
On Long Term Injured Reserve and effectively off the cap* (note: there are some ramifications on the cap for LTIR), Nathan Horton’s career looks to be over due to horrible back injuries. From a piece by Greg Wyshynski:
“I can’t stand up like a normal person; I can’t bend over. I can’t run. I can’t play with my kids. To get in and out of the car, I’m like a 75-year-old man … so slow and stiff. I can’t sleep at night. I try to lay down and my back seizes up and I can’t move, so sleeping is out. I’m like a zombie in the daytime.”
Per @Aportzline, no insurance on Horton's deal, so Blue Jackets would've had to pay anyway for nothing. Leafs can afford it and save cap hit
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 26, 2015
The two players signed near-identical contracts on July 5, 2013. After the injury, without insurance on the contract, the Blue Jackets were paying Horton a salary comparable to Clarkson’s for him not to play for them until 2020. This gives the Blue Jackets a player who can contribute (technically speaking) for the money, and turns Clarkson’s cap hit into a bad memory instead of a living reality for the Leafs.
Nathan Horton on permanent LTIR is the ultimate get out of jail free card for David Clarkson.
— Anthony Petrielli (@APetrielli) February 26, 2015
*Technically, in cases of LTIR, the cap hit is on the cap but the team is granted an exemption that allows them to exceed the cap by up to the amount of the injured player’s cap hit. This isn’t the same as simply removing the cap hit, which we’ll explore later.