For those that haven’t heard, Sami Salo has been injured again . He requires surgery for a torn Achilles tendon.
Recovery time is usually estimated at 3-6 months.
When Bieksa suffered his Achilles tendon injury, he was out roughly 3 months. But he is also the better part of a decade younger than Salo and has less of an injury history.
I’d hazard a guess that Salo will be out closer to the maximum of the range, which puts him coming back around late December to late January, plus possibly a conditioning stint in the minors.
So what effect does this have on the Canuck’s salary cap issues?
Short Answer : Unfortunately, not a lot.
Long Answer : The Canucks will be eligible for Long Term Injured Reserve (LITR) cap relief, but at best that only delays having to deal with their cap issues.
If a player is on LITR (missing a minimum of 10 games), they come off the active roster and can be replaced by another player.
If the salary for the replacement player pushes the team over the salary cap, then the team qualifies for LITR cap relief up to the amount of the injured player’s salary. Both the injured player’s and the replacement player’s salaries are prorated for the length of the injury during this calculation.
Once the injured player comes of LITR, the team no longer qualifies for the LITR cap relief, and must immediately comply with the salary cap.
So what does this mean?
Basically, if Salo starts the season off on LITR as expected, and the Canucks are right up against the cap as well, then his 3.5 mil salary essentially doesn’t count while he is on injured reserve.
Therefore, Mike Gillis doesn’t need to hurry to make a trade from his surplus of defencemen. So Kevin Bieksa, or Erhoff if you like my theory , could start the season off with the Canucks, then get dealt mid-season.
But as soon as Salo is healthy and ready to rejoin the team... the Canucks no longer get the LITR cap relief for his 3.5 mil salary, and therefore almost assuredly will have to trade a defenceman.
Best Case Scenario for the Canucks?
Salo is out until January, and by the time he is done with LITR and a conditioning stint, Gillis is in a position of strength to trade a defenseman to a contender at or near the trading deadline. Ideally, to a team in the east so it doesn’t come back to haunt the Canucks, barring a meeting in the finals.
Judging by past trade deadlines, Bieska (or Erhoff) would easily fetch a 1st + late round picks or prospects or an equivalent roster player (i.e. a power forward in a perfect world).
Of course, all of this speculation is moot if Salo decides to retire. If that is the case, then his entire 3.5 mil salary comes off the books, as he was younger than 35 when the contract started. This would solve the Canuck’s salary cap problems in a different fashion.
That being said, I don't think Salo will retire. For a guy that has faced so many injuries and battled back each time, I would think he would want to go out on his own terms.