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.
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.
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.
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.
Blair Betts being returned to the Philadelphia Flyers is causing GM Paul Holmgren some headaches to deal with that he was hoping to get rid of by waiving him in the first place. With the Flyers being so close to the salary cap, the first thing Betts’ return does is put the Flyers over the cap.
The Flyers can solve that problem quickly by putting Ian Laperriere on long term injured reserve and getting his $1.167 million contract off the books. That much salary would be enough to get the Flyers back under the cap and it’s expected to be the move to come.
Of course, things aren’t quite that easy for Philly. Rookie Sean Couturier has started off his season looking like he fits right into the mix. His entry-level salary cap hit of $1.375 million only counts against the Flyers’ payroll if he stays in Philly for the season. The Flyers will have until after their ninth game of the season on October 26 against Montreal to figure that out.
If Couturier stays, the Flyers will have to make a move or two to get under the cap. Making things more awkward is that Betts’ contract is the 50th deal for the organization. NHL teams are limited to having just 50 contracts and staying at that 50 contract limit obviously makes things uncomfortable for GMs. Getting that flexibility to add a player is one most GMs prefer to have.
Paul Holmgren’s work to fix up the Flyers this offseason has been more than worthy of attention, but he’s got more work to do now.