Before the Blues game the other night, Alain Vigneault gave a quick update on Sami Salo.
With Salo back on the ice – he’s been skating on his own for a couple of weeks now – AV estimates it’ll probably be a month before he can join the rest of his ‘mates in practice and probably another 3-4 weeks of practice before he can get back in game shape. Add another couple of weeks of conditioning (maybe with the Moose?) and we’re probably looking at a mid-March return.
(Man, that’s a lot of “probablys” in that timeline.)
The timeline is critical because Salo’s return will necessitate roster moves to accommodate his cap hit. As it stands, the Canucks are over the cap. Salo’s LTIR status allows them an exemption, but because they’re over the cap, they’re not banking cap space either. According to capgeek, the Canucks are currently spending $336,671 in salary cap space per day; the daily salary cap is $318,871. Assuming the current roster when Salo comes back, they need to clear $17,800 of salary cap space per day – or about $3.3 million in annual salary.
Given AV’s timeline, I suppose it’s possible that Salo can return before the trade deadline. In this case, the assumption has always been that the Canucks will trade Kevin Bieksa and his $3.75 million cap hit.
But what if Salo doesn’t return until after the trade deadline? I guess there’s always the possibility of waiving a bunch of players. Looking at their contract numbers, Andrew Alberts and Ryan Parent combine for $10,618 in daily salary but the Canucks would be taking a risk that they clear waivers. Subtract Rick Rypien, Aaron Volpatti (or whichever waiver-exempt fourth liner is on the roster at the time) and swap Cory Schneider for Eddie Lack until the start of the playoffs, and maybe, the Canucks do clear enough cap space to activate Salo.
In an interview this morning, GM Mike Gillis sounded very much like he wants both Salo and Kevin Bieksa in the same lineup. (Though, unlike AV, he also mentioned that there is no definite timeline for Sami’s return.) He mentioned that him and Laurence Gilman have a plan in place if, in fact, this is feasible.
I know it’s a few months away, but imagine if the Canucks enter the playoffs with a top-six defense unit that includes: Hamhuis-Ballard, Edler-Ehrhoff, Salo-Bieksa.