Awkward salary shuffle gets Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi sent to ECHL

erictangradi2.jpgWhile we outlined some of the more interesting starting roster notes of the day earlier, the most eyebrow-raising move of the day came when the Pittsburgh Penguins released their opening day roster and one name was missing from it.

While Pens prospect forward Eric Tangradi was mentioned in the press release announcing the roster, it wasn’t showing him as being part of the 23-man crew set to open against Philadelphia. Instead, Tangradi was sent to the Pens ECHL affiliate in Wheeling, West Virginia while Wheeling Nailers goalie Patrick Killeen gets called up to Pittsburgh.

Wait, what?

As it turns out, the Pens have some minor salary juggling to do to get ready for the season. They put center Jordan Staal on the injured non-roster list because he didn’t participate in training camp and placed prospects Alex Grant and Casey Pierro-Zabotel on injured reserve.

The injured non-roster list is something relatively new to us (or we’re totally ignorant on the Collective Bargaining Agreement) and Bryan Reynolds of Hockey Wilderness figured out what that means when discussing Wild forward James Sheppard. You can apply the same stuff to Jordan Staal in this case. In short, Staal being on the injured non-roster list doesn’t give the Penguins relief from his cap hit.

Lost in the jumble there somehow the Penguins are perilously close to or over the salary cap with the 23 active players they’ve got on the roster and Tangradi is one of the few players they could send to the minor leagues without going through waivers.

Until the Penguins can get Jordan Staal on the LTIR or have Grant or Pierro-Zabotel medically cleared, this awkward set up will hold up. In the meantime, Tangradi waits for the paperwork shuffle to be completed so he can rejoin the Penguins. It wouldn’t be shocking to see this hurdle cleared quickly and Tangradi suits up for the Penguins sooner than not, perhaps even tomorrow night against Philadelphia. For now, file this one away as something goofy that happens when trying to appease the gods of the salary cap.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?