Dany Heatley, Darren Helm

Red Wings to put Helm on LTIR


Red Wings forward Darren Helm’s struggles with injury will continue into this season.

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports the speedy center will begin the season on long-term injured reserve thanks to separate groin and back issues. Being on LTIR means being out of action for 24 days or 10 games and GM Ken Holland isn’t sure how soon he’ll be available.

“We believe Helm will be back in three weeks,” he says. Given how slow his progress has been since getting hurt last year, there’s all the reason in the world to be skeptical.

There is a blessing in disguise of sorts for Detroit, however, as they’ve got a glut of forwards and need to get below the salary cap. Helm going on LTIR will eventually help both parts of that equation although he can’t go on LTIR until the season starts.

Capitals put Nicklas Backstrom on LTIR

Nicklas Backstrom
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Washington has been without center Nicklas Backstrom for some time now after getting concussed by then Calgary forward Rene Bourque. With today being the trading deadline and the Caps being short of cap space, they’re putting the play maker on long term injured reserve.

According to Lindsay Applebaum of The Washington Post, the Caps putting Backstrom on LTIR will give them about $7.6 million in salary cap space to work with today and through until he returns to action. There’s no timetable as of yet when, exactly, that will be.

If the Caps make the playoffs and Backstrom returns in time for the postseason, the Caps won’t have to worry about the salary situation anymore as there’s no salary cap in the postseason. Does that mean the Caps dive into the trading pool head first today? Well let’s just say that Rick Nash isn’t about to walk through that door.

Are the Canucks about to become major deadline day players?

Mike Gillis

The Vancouver Canucks haven’t totally been floating out there in trade rumors leading up to the deadline, but things might be about to change.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Canucks have put defenseman Keith Ballard on long-term injured reserve. By doing that, Vancouver saves $4.2 million against the salary cap and thus freeing up space to potentially make a big addition at the trade deadline.

The Canucks have already been rumored to be interested in Dallas’ Steve Ott as well as Colorado’s Cody McLeod, but by freeing up this kind of cap space, there are bigger fish to go after. Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown and even Columbus’s Rick Nash are names that are popping up thanks to this new found financial freedom and, why not?

Just picture what Brown or Nash could do riding along with the likes of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler.  Making that kind of addition would make the race in the West a lot more difficult for everyone else not named the Canucks in the playoffs. If Canucks GM Mike Gillis wants to become a big player at the deadline, he’s got the ability to do so in a big way.

Chris Pronger’s contract could make things awkward for Philadelphia

Chris Pronger

The ramifications of Chris Pronger being knocked out of action for the season and playoffs with severe post-concussion syndrome for Philadelphia are many. The effect it could have on GM Paul Holmgren and how the team can budget their payroll, however, is massive.

Pronger’s contract is a 35-and-over deal that comes with a cap hit of $4.9 million for the next five seasons. That means his cap hit isn’t going anywhere whether Pronger is playing or not. If Pronger is forced to retire from his ailment or if he takes his time and returns next season or the season after, that cap hit is there no matter what.

What can the Flyers do about that? They don’t have many options, but as Bob McKenzie said on TSN’s Insider Trading last night, Philadelphia could follow in the Boston Bruins’ footsteps in how they’ve handled Marc Savard’s post-concussion absence.

Rather than seeing Pronger retire and leave a cap hit the team can’t do anything about, they can keep him on the roster and put him on LTIR to free up his cap hit to make use of. Savard doesn’t have a 35+ contract, but the Bruins are able to use LTIR to their advantage and not have to worry about Savard’s contract to make a move when needed thanks to it

It might seem like a sneaky way of getting around a rule that was meant to ward teams off from giving older players long contracts, but loopholes were meant for exploiting. After all, they’ve been using this move already in handling Ian Laperriere’s extended absence, and using it for Pronger would make too much sense.

Rangers to put Staal on LTIR, gain cap space

Marc Staal
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Interesting bit of news from the New York Post’s Larry Brooks about some salary cap finagling in the Big Apple. According to Brooks, the Rangers have a series of moves in place to gain an additional $3.975 million of cap space — by putting assistant captain Marc Staal on Long Term Injury Reserve.

It’s believed once the Rangers make the necessary moves to come as close to possible to the cap — including the potential recall of Mats Zuccarello from the AHL Whale in the aftermath of the groin injury suffered by Wojtek Wolski in the first period of last night’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Ducks — they will then sign and register the contract of free-agent defenseman Anton Stralman, who has agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth $900,000.

Once that’s all done, New York will reportedly put Staal on LTIR (which he already qualifies for, having been sidelined for at least 10 games and/or 24 days.) The key for the Rangers is getting as close to the $64.3-million cap as possible before putting Staal on LTIR, because they can only gain the difference between Staal’s cap hit and the amount of cap space available at the time he goes on. Isn’t the CBA fun?

Brooks also notes that Staal’s been plagued by headaches since suffering a concussion on Feb. 22 and that head coach John Tortorella says his status remains unchanged.

So without getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s drum up a trade rumor!

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter (an impending UFA) is making $3.5-million this season. With the Preds breaking the bank to extend Pekka Rinne (likely putting Shea Weber next on the “to do” list), Suter could be made available. His agent, Neil Sheehy, will resume contract talks with Preds GM David Poile in the coming weeks, but note what ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun wrote today:

“If the Preds don’t have Suter locked up as the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, Poile will have a mighty difficult decision to make. He didn’t move pending UFA Dan Hamhuis a few years back and saw him walk away to Vancouver in the summer. If the Preds aren’t in a playoff spot Feb 27, it’s a no-brainer: You move Suter and maximize his asset value.”

Potential hiccups:

1) Poile’s made it clear he wants to keep Rinne, Weber and Suter.

2) Even if Nashville can’t get Suter signed, they might be in a playoff spot/no position to trade him.

3) LeBrun suggests Suter could be looking for “at least $6.5 million” on a new deal, which could be way out of New York’s wheelhouse (the Rangers will already have three players making $6.5-million-plus next year: Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist.)

4) New York might not even want Suter.

5) This may be based entirely on the fact I really like Suter and would want him on my team.

So there definitely are issues with what’s proposed above.

But hey, it’s always fun to speculate.