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The Mistake In Trusting The LTIR Method

So the Devils will go with a roster of 20 healthy skaters to begin the regular season. Sound odd to you? Well, it’s an interesting decision, and it’s potential risks could pose huge issues for New Jersey early in the season.

Many fans and writers (including me) expected the Devils to make some moves today to get under the salary cap. We expected high-contract guys like Dainius Zubrus to spend time in the minors, and the possibility of a few trades existed as well. But, instead of a flurry of moves, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello decided to instead trust in the long-term injured reserved and a little bit of lady luck.

Dainius Zubrus and other high-cap players will remain on the Devils roster for now. The Devils will rely on the LTIR as a temporary fix to their cap issues. Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

No moves are official yet, but it seems like Lamoriello will move Bryce Salvador to the LTIR. With the defenseman being out indefinitely with a concussion, the LTIR would allow the Devils to be cautious with Salvador’s recovery. Salvador would need to spend either 10 games or 24 days on the LTIR, giving the Devils some temporary cap relief. While his cap hit won’t come off the book, the Devils would be allowed to play over the cap. For the time being, the team could keep players like Zubrus and Colin White on the roster.

While it provides the luxury of not demoting players, using the LTIR to temporarily solve the cap problem makes the team invest heavily in luck. With both Anssi Salmela and Salvador on the LTIR, the Devils will only have 20 healthy skaters (11 offense, seven defense and two goalies). The 11 offensive skaters aren’t even enough to fill four lines. That means some big minutes for the top lines, and while it’s early in the season, the Devils will open with six games in nine days. That’s a lot of minutes on those lines, and while I’m sure the players can handle it, this is less than an ideal situation.

Maybe Lamoriello needs extra time to make some moves. That’s understandable, as deciding who to move and working out deals can take some time. He could also be using the first 10 games to decide which veteran should be placed on waivers. But this should be seen as a temporary band-aid, and not a permanent solution. The Devils need to clear cap space, not only for the present, but for later in the season. We all know championships aren’t won in September and October; sometimes, teams need to add one or two players for a cup run. The Devils, who can barely find room for Adam Mair, will need future cap space for any possible call-ups or improvements.

The Devils will try and skate by with the absolute minimum. In my opinion, it’s not the smartest of moves, but it’s what Lamoriello feels is best. He’s got an excellent track record, and he’s shown the ability to pull off great trades before. He could be buying himself some time, but if this move backfires, the Devils can be in an early hole. Every fan will hold their breath when a Devil skates gingerly off the ice or winces in pain. One injury can complicate everything.

By turning to the LTIR as a temporary solution, Lamoriello invested heavily into luck. Let’s hope the investment pays off.

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