With the sheer volume of contracts that were filed with NHL Central Registry at the start of free agency, it has taken them some time to review them all to ensure they’re in compliance with all of the CBA rules. Once in a while, deals are rejected because an element doesn’t meet the criteria and CapFriendly reports (Twitter link) that this is the case with the Kraken’s deal for goaltender Philipp Grubauer. CapFriendly has the full details of the deal here.
Since more than half of the salary is paid out in the first three years of the contract ($18.5MM out of $35.4MM or 52.25%), it qualifies as a front-loaded contract which has some stricter rules than non-front-loaded deals and those rules changed when the new CBA was agreed on last year.
One of the rules for front-loaded contracts is that any salary variance from one year to the next cannot exceed 25% of the salary in the first year. Grubauer’s salary in 2021-22 was set to be $5MM and 25% of that is $1.25MM. Accordingly, any year-over-year variance cannot be greater than $1.25MM. However, Grubauer’s original 2022-23 salary was $6MM and his 2023-24 salary was $7.5MM, a difference of $1.5MM. This is what caused the contract to be rejected.
This shouldn’t be any cause for concern for the Kraken. They just have to fiddle with the salary numbers to come up with a new agreement. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports (Twitter link) that a revised contract has already been filed that moves $250K in salary from 2023-24 to 2022-23, keeping the cap hit the same. Technically, Grubauer is now a free agent once again but that shouldn’t last long once that revised contract is approved by the league.