The first day of the NHL season usually sees enterprising teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins make some bold moves, to maximize their salary cap space. Guru Mike Colligan explained this really well back in 2010 when the Pens used Eric Tangradi (an NHL player they sent to the ECHL), Patrick Killeen (a minor league player they called up to the NHL) and an injured NHL player with a sizeable salary who was going to the long-term injury reserve (Jordan Staal).
This year, playing the role of Tangradi is Olli Maatta, Oskar Sundqvist is filling in as Killeen and Staal's part is going to be reprised by Eric Fehr.
Illustration #3: The Upper Limit in a League Year is $40.0 million. On the last day of Training Camp, a Club has an Averaged Club Salary of $41.5 million (excluding Earnable Performance Bonuses up to the full amount of the Performance Bonus Cushion). A Player [Staal] who has an SPC with an Averaged Amount of $2.0 million becomes unfit to play on the last day of Training Camp, and on the same day, the Club assigns two Players [Tangradi] who have SPCs with an aggregate Averaged Amount of $2.0 million to the minors, decreasing its Averaged Club Salary to $39.5 million. The Club then acquires a Player [Killeen] who has an SPC with an Averaged Amount of $450,000, increasing its Averaged Club Salary to $39.95 million. Subsequently, on Opening Day, the Club exercises the Bona-Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception on the unfit-to-play Player. The Club may then replace the unfit-to-play Player with any Player or Players who have SPCs with an (aggregate) Averaged Amount of $2.0 million. If these replacements are made on Opening Day and are maintained through the conclusion of the season, the Club’s Averaged Club Salary is $41.95 million, as the Club is permitted to exceed the Upper Limit by $1.95 million because of the Bona-Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception.
What's that all mean? The Penguins jockeyed to the best way possible to open up as much salary cap space for them as possible - which is smart since Pascal Dupuis is out 4-5 weeks and by making these moves, the team has more room to carry a replacement forward.
All in all, no worries, the cap expert assistant GM Jason Botterill is doing his thing. Just like in 2010 as outlined above. In 2011 it was Beau Bennett going to Wheeling. Last season it was Scott Harrington going to the AHL. Olli Maatta will be back in plenty of time to play with the NHL Pens in Dallas on Thursday night.