With Tom Wilson facing a lengthy suspension, the Capitals made a move Tuesday to add more forward depth by claiming St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers.
Jaskin, 25, is a right wing with over 250 games of NHL experience. Last season, he scored six goals and 17 points in 76 games for the Blues. He enjoyed a career year in 2014-15 when he scored 13 goals and 18 points.
With the lineup seemingly all but set for Wednesday’s opener, the question then is why would the Caps make this move? The answer is Wilson.
“We thought we needed some forward depth to protect us through whatever might happen with Tom,” general manager Brian MacLellan said Tuesday.
Wilson is facing what is likely to be a significant suspension for his hit to Oskar Sundqvist in Sunday’s preseason finale.
When a player is suspended, both he and his $5.16 million cap hit remains on the roster. That obviously presents a challenge to the team to add a player into the lineup for as long as Wilson will be out.
“We were feeling a little vulnerable in our forward depth depending on what happens with Tom and his hearing,” MacLellan said. “We like the player, we think the player has some upside and with the possible suspension of Tom we’re adding a big body that can make some plays and go to the net and has a similar skillset as Tom.”
Jaskin is more proven on the ice than Nathan Walker or Jayson Megna. While the team could feel comfortable plugging either player in for spot duty, Jaskin appears to be a better option if Wilson is indeed suspended for six or more games.
Jaskin’s cap hit is $1.1 million and his addition also led to a number of roster moves to get within the salary cap and the 23-player limit by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
First, defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler was reassigned to Hershey. He is waiver exempt and could be reassigned at any time. Second, Michal Kempny was placed on injured reserve and Travis Boyd was placed on long-term injured reserve.
By placing Kempny on IR, he will be required to sit out for seven days, meaning he will miss both Wednesday’s opener and Thursday in Pittsburgh, both of which Todd Reirden said Tuesday he would miss anyway.
Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) is used for players who are expected to miss a minimum of 10 NHL games and 24 days in the NHL season.
When used, a team’s upper salary cap limit is changed to what is called the accruable cap space limit which is extremely complicated to calculate. To put it simply, it is a way for a team to exceed the cap ceiling based on the injured player’s cap hit.
While Boyd will now have to miss ten games, the good news is that was about the timeline for him anyway, according to MacLellan.
This is an unfortunate series of events for Siegenthaler who looked poised to make the roster out of camp. While his waiver status made it doubtful he would stay in Washington long-term, sending him back to Hershey not only means he will not be making his NHL debut in Kempny’s absence, but also means will miss out on an NHL salary during Kempny’s absence.
“[Siegenthaler] had a great camp,” MacLellan said Tuesday to reporters. “Everybody here is excited about the way he played. He probably doesn’t deserve to be sent down based on play alone but because of suspensions, because of roster, because of salary cap it’s just a pure business decision that he has to go down for a while.
“Realistically he might not have played the first few games anyway so it will work itself out.”
Those three moves would put Washington at 23 players and just under cap for now, but it will also leave only six defensemen on the roster for the first two games of the season.
After you watch the banner raise on Wednesday, cross your fingers that the Caps escape Wednesday’s game unscathed on the blue line or it will require a few more moves before they take the ice Thursday in Pittsburgh.
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