Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Salary Cap Will Play Key Role in Cuts, Roster

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Salary Cap Will Play Key Role in Cuts, Roster

Article excerpt

The NHL's preseason is winding down.

Not coincidentally, so is the time a number of players will spend on the Penguins' major-league depth chart.

The Penguins, who cut their roster to 32 Tuesday by sending defenseman Harrison Ruopp and winger Tom Kuhnhackl to their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre, will close out exhibition play with a visit tonight to Detroit before heading to West Point for three- plus days of team-building exercises and on-ice workouts.

Coach Dan Bylsma said the plan "most likely" will be to reassign some players after the Red Wings game and take 15 forwards, "about" eight defensemen and two goalies to the U.S. Military Academy.

The Penguins have to be down to a roster of no more than 23 players -- and the salary-cap ceiling of $64.3 million -- by Monday.

Precisely how the Penguins will reach that isn't clear, although team officials haven't ruled out sending one or more veterans with one-way contracts -- the kind that pay the same amount, regardless of where a player is working -- to Wilkes-Barre.

Such players would have to clear waivers before joining the Baby Penguins, but up to $925,000 of each one's cap hit would come off the books if they are demoted to the American Hockey League.

The Penguins' cap-space issues reduce the chances of them keeping promising young defensemen Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot, who have junior eligibility remaining, on the early season roster to expose them to regular-season play in the NHL. Maatta and Pouliot would draw their NHL salaries while in the league, even if they didn't stay long enough to burn a year off their entry-level contracts.

"There are salary-cap issues that are a part of all those [personnel] decisions," Bylsma said. "All those things have to be discussed, given the fact that we have to become cap-compliant in the next little bit."

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