Opening night roster choices in Vancouver, New Jersey, LA, and Philly cause a stir

With teams setting their final rosters for the start of the season, some of the teams with salary cap issues are making what appear to be curious moves but may ultimately prove to be nothing more than paper shuffling for the bookkeepers.

coryschneider1.jpgIn Vancouver, the Canucks recalled defenseman Lee Sweatt while sending goalie Cory Schneider and forwards Jeff Tambellini and Alexandre Bolduc to Manitoba in the AHL. In actuality, sending Schneider and keeping rookie Swedish goalie Eddie Lack on the roster helps give the Canucks a few more days to figure out their more-realistic salary cap situation since they won’t play their first game until Saturday.

While rookie Cody Hodgson is on the roster now, expect him to be headed to Manitoba by Saturday as well so the Canucks will have their actual game-ready crew set to go. It’s a fun dance to do when dealing with the cap.

In New Jersey, the Devils made a surprising move sending rookie defenseman Matt Taormina to Albany in the AHL while recalling rookie center Adam Henrique. Henrique didn’t play in any Devils preseason games and initially appeared to be an early cut in camp.

Instead, he’s back on the roster for the time being and making sure the Devils are $35,835 below the salary cap with Bryce Salvador and Anssi Salmela officially put on LTIR.You can get a pretty sweet car for that amount of money, but not another player as the Devils roster, as we talked about yesterday, is at 20 players.

Some Devils followers, like John Fischer of In Lou We Trust, braydenschenn3.jpggoalies.

As for the Los Angeles Kings, you might actually need a program on opening night to figure out who some of the players are. While the Kings didn’t have a lot of roster turnover to speak of in the off-season, training camp brought through a lot of new faces that will make their debuts with the team.

Among them, former first round pick centerman Brayden Schenn, defenseman Jake Muzzin, and forwards Kevin Westgarth, Andrei Loktionov, Trevor Lewis, and Kyle Clifford. If you’re a fan of the AHL Manchester Monarchs you’ll know a lot of those guys, but chances are the youth movement in Los Angeles will take you by surprise. The most surprising of this group are Muzzin and Clifford. Head coach Terry Murray will certainly have his options available to him to juggle things as the pressure to build off last year’s playoff appearance will certainly be high.

sergeibobrovsky1.jpgIn Philadelphia, Ian Laperriere’s potentially season-ending news about dealing with post-concussion syndrome is causing many hearts to sink, but through that a new name has emerged as a potential cult hero. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is already getting a lot of love from Philly fans for making the team in Michael Leighton’s absence. Given how tenuous the situation in goal can be in Philly, Bobrovsky could just end up being the starter at some point this season. Meanwhile, forward Andreas Nodl found himself being temporarily shuttled to Adirondack in the AHL while the Flyers get things better squared away concerning Laperriere and Leighton.

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    Report: Leafs win arbitration case with Cowen

    OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 21: Jared Cowen #2 of the Ottawa Senators prepares for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on January 21, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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    The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their arbitration case with Jared Cowen, who will remain bought out.

    TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the news today. It is a significant loss for Cowen, the 25-year-old defenseman who came to the Leafs in February as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade.

    From Sportsnet’s story before the ruling:

    At issue is whether Cowen was healthy enough to have the final year of his contract bought out by the Leafs last summer. A lengthy section of the CBA is devoted to “procedures for determining fitness to play,” and they include a player’s right to pursue a second medical opinion beyond what is provided by the team.

    That information, plus witness testimony and other evidence, will be taken into account by the arbitrator while rendering a decision.

    For Cowen, there is $3-million in salary at stake. That represents somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25 per cent of his career NHL earnings to date – a huge amount given his injury history and diminished future earning potential.

    For the Leafs, it’s significant win. They’ll actually get a $650,000 cap credit this season. Next season, they’ll take a $750,000 hit, and after that their obligations are over.

    If they’d lost, they would’ve lost the credit and assumed a $3.1-million cap hit this season, the final year of Cowen’s contract.

    Sportsnet explains why the Leafs didn’t want to lose:

    That’s a $3.75-million cap swing in total and would almost certainly result in the Leafs invoking long-term injury relief on one of three players – Nathan Horton, Stephane Robidas or Joffrey Lupul – to remain compliant.

    Even though the LTI maneuver would offer immediate relief, it’s something the Leafs hope to avoid since it would increase the size of the cap overage penalty they’ll carry into next season because of performance bonuses expected to be earned by as many as five rookies in their current lineup.

    Cowen had hip surgery after he was bought out. It’s been reported he may not be ready to play until February, assuming he can find a team. He played 37 games for the Senators last season, registering no goals and four assists.

    Related: Lupul to start season on injured reserve, still aims to play again

    No hearing for Taylor Hall after Larsen hit

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils hits Philip Larsen #63 of the Vancouver Canucks in the second period on December 6, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    Devils forward Taylor Hall will avoid supplemental discipline for his big hit on Vancouver’s Philip Larsen, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

    Midway through New Jersey’s eventual 3-2 win over the Canucks, Hall caught Larsen behind the Vancouver goal with a massive bodycheck, knocking Larsen unconscious. The Danish blueliner was prone on the ice for several seconds before receiving medical attention, and was eventually stretchered off.

    Hall wasn’t penalized on the play.

    Larsen spent the night in a New Jersey-area hospital, per Sportsnet, and is flying to Vancouver today to meet with team doctors.

    Hall said he didn’t regret throwing the hit, but felt awful about the result. He and Larsen do have a history, having briefly played together in Edmonton.

    “I’m looking to make contact there, but I never want to see a guy laying on the ice there like that,” Hall said, per NJ.com. “I only know how to play the game one way, and you’ve got to play it hard. But like I said, I feel terrible.

    “When you see him laying on the ice like that, he’s a former teammate of mine, and I just would have loved to make a hit there and continue the play. I hope he’s OK.”

    Related: The Devils are hanging around, thanks to a great home record

    The Devils are hanging around, thanks to a great home record

    NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 9: Cory Schneider #35 of the New Jersey Devils and teammates salute their fans after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center on April 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Maple Leafs 5-1. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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    Last night’s game in Newark was mostly notable for the scary situation involving Vancouver’s Philip Larsen, who had to be stretchered off the ice following a devastating hit by Taylor Hall.

    But the players played on, and the Devils eventually defeated the Canucks, 3-2.

    The victory improved New Jersey’s record at Prudential Center to 8-0-2. The Devils are the only team in the NHL that has yet to lose in regulation at home. They’ve struggled on the road, going 4-7-4.

    A quarter of the way through the season, the jury remains out on New Jersey as a legitimate playoff contender. The Devils have just six regulation wins, with four of their victories coming in overtime and two more in the shootout. Only the Panthers (5), Coyotes (4), and Canucks (4) have won fewer games in regulation.

    But keeping games close has served the Devils well. Twelve times they’ve been tied after 60 minutes, guaranteeing them at least a point. Heading into tonight’s action, they sit just one point back of Washington for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

    “We’re in a playoff race,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told reporters this morning ahead of his team’s game with the Bruins (on NBCSN).

    The Devils don’t play again until Thursday in Montreal, where a tough stretch starts for John Hynes’ crew. New Jersey returns home to face St. Louis Friday, then it’s back on the road for games at the Rangers, Blues, Senators, and Rangers again.

    Wings activate Howard off IR following six-game absence

    MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 12:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on November 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-0.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    The Red Wings have played pretty well lately — 5-1-2 in their last eight — and got some good news on Wednesday, as veteran netminder Jimmy Howard was activated off injured reserve.

    Howard has been out since Nov. 25 with a groin injury, suffered early in a game against the Devils. He’s missed the last six games as a result, but will — per NHL.com — take part in Thursday’s practice and presumably be ready to dress in time for Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets.

    Howard was playing very well prior to getting hurt, posting a 1.82 GAA and .940 save percentage in 12 appearances, 11 of those being starts.

    His return means it’s back to AHL Grand Rapids for Jared Coreau, who was recalled a couple weeks ago and made his NHL debut against the Penguins last Saturday, stopping 32 shots in a 5-3 loss. That game was the only one in the last eight in which Detroit failed to secure at least a point.

    A big reason for that run was the play of Petr Mrazek. With Howard out, the Czech ‘tender has performed admirably, especially over his last five games — Mrazek has stopped 147 of 158 shots for a .930 save percentage, posting a record of 3-0-2.