The Vancouver Canucks entered Monday over the NHL’s salary cap upper limit. Yet, when waivers are completed tomorrow, the team will be in near-perfect shape regardless of the results. Spotted among the many names on waivers today were two veteran forwards from Vancouver: Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi. While any Canucks fan would like to see both claimed off waivers, there is almost no chance that either one will be moving elsewhere. Eriksson and his $6MM cap hit have failed to live up to expectations for four years now and no other team is likely to be willing to take a chance on the former All-Star. Baertschi and his own $3.37MM price tag were up for grabs on waivers multiple times last season and no one took a chance, leaving him buried in the AHL for much of the year. However, neither player needs to be claimed for the Canucks to benefit. Once both wingers clear waivers, they can be moved to the AHL or – more likely – the taxi squad. Their cap hits will thus be reduced by $1.075MM apiece for a total savings of $2.15MM. As CapFriendly points out, that is not only enough to get Vancouver back in the black relative to the cap ceiling; it will also leave them enough room to add a player on a minimum $700K salary back to the active roster. This is important, as it will bring the cap payroll as close to the upper limit as possible, allowing the team to take close to full advantage of Micheal Ferland’s Long-Term Injured Reserve placement. The savings of nearly $3.5MM will be used to sign defenseman Travis Hamonic and to replace one or two of the forward slots abandoned by Eriksson and Baertschi. Whether anticipated or not, it’s some impressive salary cap magic by GM Jim Benning and company.
- The Canucks were also back at practice today after a COVID-19 scare on Sunday. Vancouver canceled all team activities yesterday in response to a possible exposure, but fortunately no players or staff have tested positive, per Sportsnet. The team is back on track and there are no further issues expected from this specific case of potential exposure.
- Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars are still dealing with their Coronavirus issue. After six players and two staff members tested positive before Friday’s practice, the team shut down their facilities over the weekend and were not able to open back up today. Their first three games of the season, on the road against the Florida Panthers twice and the first of two against the Tampa Bay Lightning, have already been postponed but the hopes is that their new opener, set for January 19 in Tampa, will go on as scheduled. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly tells Matthew DeFranks of The Dallas News that the league is prepared to do what needs to be done, but that they do feel the Stars are “at the end of that outbreak” and are now focused on how it occured initially. Daly added that medical personnel would decide when it is safe to re-open the facility and that all parties feel the 19th remains a fair goal for Dallas to be both healthy and well-prepared. DeFranks has since reported that Dallas will indeed return to practice on Tuesday, though all further camp sessions will be closed to the media.
- The Ontario Reign, AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, have announced the hiring of Craig Johnson as an assistant coach for the club. The Reign already have a new head coach in John Wroblewski and now add another new face in Johnson, who is actually a familiar name to Kings fans who remember him from his seven season playing with the team in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Johnson’s coaching experience is somewhat limited, serving as a head coach for local youth and high school teams in Southern California. However, he has also served as a development coach for the Kings over the past two seasons and briefly worked for the Reign previously in the ECHL back in 2010-11.