Demitra, the defense and the cap
As Hosea Cheung (Sun Media) pointed out this morning, Pavol Demitra will miss the start of the regular season while he continues to rehab his injured shoulder:
Pavol Demitra will miss at least six more weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of last season.
“The shoulder is not quite strong enough yet,” Demitra said yesterday at UBC, where he skated by himself in the morning.
“I started skating the last two weeks back home in Slovakia and day by day it’s getting better.”
The 34-year-old forward, who will make $4 million this season, had to get his left shoulder fixed after tearing both his front and back rotator cuff. He added the doctors found some chips in the bone.
With the Canucks currently sitting over the salary cap, some believe the team will place him on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) and solve their salary cap problems.
Instead of sweating the loss of his point production, people started counting up the cap room the Canucks can theoretically save if Demitra is placed on the long-term injured reserve list. And it’s true, the Canucks should get some cap relief out of this and it’s something they desperately need right now.
However, the fact is that Demitra’s injury won’t give the Canucks cap relief – it’s actually the opposite. Section 50.10(d) of the CBA states that:
“In the event that a Player on a Club becomes unfit to play (i.e. is injured, ill or disabled, and unable to perform his duties as a hockey Player) such that the Club’s physician believes, in his or her opinion, that the Player, owing to an injury or an illness, will be unfit to play for at least (i) twenty-four (24) calendar days and (ii) ten (10) NHL Regular Season games, and such Club desires to replace such Player, the Club may add an additional Player or Players to its Active Roster, and the replacement Player Salary and Bonuses of such additional Player(s) may increase the Club’s Averaged Club Salary to an amount up to and exceeding the Upper Limit, solely as, and to the extent and for the duration, set forth below.”
What this means is that, not only will Demitra’s salary continue to count towards the Canucks’ salary cap, but his replacement’s salary will as well.
The more I look at the current Canucks roster, the more I think it’s likely that Mike Gillis will trade one of his $3 million defensemen. As it stands, the team is about $3 million over the cap and none of the forwards other than the Sedins and Demitra will free up enough cap space in trade. On the other hand, their no. 5, 6, 7 and 8 defensemen combine to take up almost $7.9 million in cap space. It may be a nice luxury to have guys like Mathieu Schneider and Brad Lukowich as nos. 7 and 8 on the defensive depth chart, but I’m sure even Mike Gillis will agree that spending this much money on this part of the roster isn’t effective.