By Ian Oland
Michal Kempny was put on waivers by the Washington Capitals on Saturday. It means two things for the Capitals at the NHL level: the Czech defenseman could either be claimed by another team taking his $2.5M cap hit completely off the books or he can go unclaimed and sent to Hershey, where the Capitals could bury $1.125M of his salary.
The most likely scenario, given the Capitals made the move so many days before Opening Night where most teams don’t have much roster flexibility, is that Kempny will clear waivers and end up in the AHL.
That aggressive move by GM Brian MacLellan opens up a few roster possibilities for the cap-strapped Capitals without having to put Nicklas Backstrom, who is rehabbing a hip injury, on long-term injured reserve (which may still happen anyway).
Per The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, the move will allow the Caps to keep 12 forwards and seven defensemen on their roster (21 total). Connor McMichael ($863k) or Hendrix Lapierre ($894k) will stay as well as rookie defenseman Martin Fehervary ($791k).
By burying Kempny's contract in Hershey, the #Caps have created some cap flexibility…without putting Backstrom on LTI. In fact, they can roll with 12 forwards (either McMichael OR Lapierre) and seven defensemen, including Fehervary.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) October 9, 2021
If Backstrom ends up on LTIR (he would miss 10 games and 24 days mandatory), the Capitals would then be allowed to exceed the salary cap to replace him, and could keep two of the following remaining forwards: Lapierre or McMichael, Beck Malenstyn ($750k), and Garrett Pilon ($750k). That would give the Capitals the flexibility to have a full 23-man roster (14F, 7D, 2G).
Correction: This article previously said that the Capitals could bury $1.075M of Kempny’s salary. That number increased during the 2021-22 season to $1.125M.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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