UPDATE: Zac Dalpe underwent arthroscopic knee surgery today, sources say. Read deeper in the blog to understand, but I'd assume Dalpe and Bartley will be placed on LTIR, which by my awful math skills would be just enough to allow the Wild to recall Graovac and Bertschy again, and I think, another forward. Jordan Schroeder, by the way, was named AHL Player of the Week today, so he'd make sense.
In the NHL, the salary cap is calculated daily, so not wanting to waste a day’s salary for two or three players, the Wild practiced with 14 skaters today. As you know, 18 typically dress in a game.
“I was really grumpy this morning,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Coaches like to have really good practices. And I know the reasons why we only have eight forwards and six defensemen out there. It doesn’t make practice any easier if you want to keep getting better, especially early on in the season. In March, we might not practice at all. But right now these 11 days … are days for you to get better by being able to practice. And when you’re not able to practice full bore because of numbers, then it’s sort of irritating.”
The Wild was four short today because Tyler Graovac and Christoph Bertschy were reassigned after Saturday’s win over Dallas to save a few days of cap space, Chris Stewart was sick and Zac Dalpe is, according to Boudreau, out what the team thinks will be “multiple weeks” with a lower-body injury.
According to sources, Zach Parise has a foot injury and Marco Scandella has an ankle injury. They’re considered week to week, although both are walking well and think they’re ahead of schedule, according to Boudreau.
Boudreau also announced today that center Erik Haula is a week to 10 days away from returning from his foot injury.
According to capfriendly.com (and thank you to Mr. CapFriendly for helping me figure a lot of this out today via Twitter direct message and email), the Wild has $1.476 million in cap space, which includes $2.5 million in buyout charges for Thomas Vanek and Matt Cooke, $366K for Victor Bartley’s training camp injury and, I think, $76,000 and change in dead cap space for what Teemu Pulkkinen accrued.
What does this mean? That available cap space is roughly the equivalent of two callups if no other corresponding moves were made. So even if the Wild recalled Bertschy and Graovac, that’d put the Wild $230K from the $73 million ceiling – or not enough to afford a third forward to play for Dalpe and certainly not enough to afford a fourth forward to play for Stewart.
So, the Wild really needs Stewart to get healthy quick so he can play Tuesday vs. Buffalo.
“The way our situation is, we sent him home,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t want anybody else to catch anything, so hopefully it’s the 24-hour variety and he’ll be ready [Tuesday].”
I’m told management has been cramming numbers today with NHL Central Registry. What it’s trying to figure out is if it can put a player or two on long-term injured reserve to get salary-cap relief and be able to surpass the ceiling so it can afford to get a third forward here to play Buffalo.
To put a player on LTIR, he must miss 10 games and 24 days. Then, you must get cap compliant when that player returns. Dalpe and Bartley wouldn’t provide a ton of cap relief, and Bartley is a convoluted one anyway because his full cap hit isn’t being counted due to the exhibition game torn triceps.
Scandella would provide significant relief, but the Wild would have to be sure his injury is one that would keep him out 10 games and 24 days. He’s certainly walking like his ankle injury isn’t debilitating him too badly.
Ten games and 24 days out for Scandella would be a Nov. 23 return.
There is something called the roster emergency exception where you can surpass the cap if you have minimal cap room and don’t have a player you can put on LTIR and you have less than 18 skaters and two goalies.
But in order to exercise that, you first have to play a game with fewer than 18 skaters and two goalies (although it’s unclear to me if losing Dalpe in the middle of last game would constitute that), so there’s no use for me giving you the meticulous details on how this rarely-used exception works until or unless this is exercised.
One solution to all of this would be to send Joel Eriksson Ek down and recall a player with a cheaper cap hit, but that doesn’t seem like the brightest or fairest move and frankly Boudreau may rather play a short a man than send Eriksson Ek down in the first place.
Regardless of how the Wild figures this out, it looks like the Wild’s going to have to manage this for awhile as it accrues more space per day. And just so you understand, multiple teams are dealing with this. Half the league’s nestled up against the cap. Defenseman Brian Campbell had to play third-line left wing for Chicago recently.
Even if Stewart plays against the Sabres, there’s certainly a chance the Wild plays a man short. Defenseman Nate Prosser played wing in practice today just to give the Wild three forward lines, but the Wild needs him playing D, or it would have five defensemen against the Sabres.
“I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” Boudreau said. “I mean we’re obviously going to call up a couple guys for [Tuesday] and hopefully some of our injured guys are a little quicker on the mend than initially thought. Our goal is to get through [Tuesday] and then hopefully by Saturday we’ve got some of the walking wounded back.”
Asked if he’s concerned the Wild will be shorthanded against the Sabres, Boudreau said, “I don’t know. Listen, I was in the East Coast League where we dressed 13 players a game and in the American League you dress 17 all the time. Whatever is thrown our way, it’ll be a great challenge. If we dress 20, it’ll be great.”
Boudreau was asked about Devan Dubnyk being named No. 2 Star. He asked who No. 1 was. Told Craig Anderson (read the last blog as to why he got it), Boudreau said, “OK, I’ll give it to him for that. But I mean, it’s pretty hard to beat what Duby did.”
Then, Boudreau deadpanned, “He’s healthy, which is great.”
I watched the Dallas game over again.
I mentioned on KFAN today how weird the second period was the other night because as much as the Wild defended and couldn’t get anything done offensively, the Wild defended really well and Dubnyk didn’t have to stand on his head or anything.
Boudreau echoed that today, saying, the Wild only gave up three scoring chances in the one-shot second, and two were on the power play.
“In our zone, we protect the middle of the ice right now,” Boudreau said. “Even though they have the puck, they’re not getting inside us.”
The Wild’s defending way too much for his liking, but it is defending well.
This blog exhausted me (and you, I’m sure). I hope everything’s clear (and accurate, ha). I’ll be back if there’s more clarity today as to how the Wild’s proceeding.