After clearing waivers just before the season started, the Arizona Coyotes have now sent Zbynek Michalek to their AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners, according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
Michalek, a former stalwart of the Coyotes’ blueline has seen his play deteriorate greatly in recent seasons, perhaps due to the multiple concussion or concussion-like injuries he’s suffered on the ice. While the 33-year old isn’t the shutdown defender he once was, this move is clearly one to save cap space for a team who suddenly finds themselves right up against it.
John Chayka, the league’s youngest GM, has openly spoken about how valuable cap space is as an asset in the new NHL, and has used it often to acquire talent. Pavel Datsyuk, Dave Bolland, and Chris Pronger are all examples of the team using their space (but not neccessarily actual money) to gain prospects or draft picks to fuel their rebuild.
With Michalek earning $3.2MM this season, it will save the Coyotes close to a million dollars in cap space to bury him in the minors for the entire year. While the player might not like it, these are the realities of a cap-driven league.