The Devils are under the salary cap but getting there hasn't been easy or pretty.
Brian Rolston was placed on the long-term injured reserve list with a sports hernia, which will likely keep him out of action for at least a month. That at least temporarily frees up $5 million in cap space, which allows the Devils to get back to a full roster as they are now under the $59.4 million threshold.
The Devils had been playing with only 16 skaters, 10 forwards and six defensemen because of the cap constraints. However, general manager Lou Lamoriello felt too much had been made of the Devils playing with less than a full roster.
"The players in the lineup, the ice time they are getting is similar to the ice time they were getting other games," Lamoriello said. "Being short didn't give those players any more ice time than they get in normal situations. It's just that you don't have that extra body in case an extraordinary thing happens like a fight."
The NHL Players Association is investigating whether the Devils were in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for playing with fewer than 18 skaters. Under terms of the CBA, teams must dress 18 skaters and two goaltenders unless there is an emergency situation.
That is just the latest of the Devils' woes. Remember, they were penalized heavily by the NHL for the original Ilya Kovalchuk contract, being fined $3 million and stripped of two draft picks.
The Maple Leafs also cleared some cap space by waiving defenseman Jeff Finger, who had a $3.5 million contract this season. They were barely under the threshold.
Finger played in only one exhibition game before injuring a knee. While general manager Brian Burke said Finger won't necessarily spend the entire season in the minor leagues, it figures to be difficult for him to get back on the roster as the Maple Leafs need the cap space.
"It's not so much just a business move," coach Ron Wilson said. "We've got seven guys better than him right now, if that's what it came down to. We're not going to carry eight defensemen. We don't even want to carry two extra forwards."
Babcock Receives Extension
Coaches come and go in the NHL at a faster rate than any of the other major sports. And when they are as combative and abrasive as Mike Babcock, who would not dispute those adjectives, they tend to get canned very quickly, yet Babcock is in his sixth season as the Red Wings' coach. And he could be with them a lot longer as he received a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2014-15 season and is reportedly close to $2 million a season, enabling him to remain the highest-paid coach in the league.
Winning always helps cover up any personality flaws and the Red Wings have done plenty of that during Babcock's tenure. They won the Stanley Cup in 2007-08 and advanced to the final the following season. He is also the only coach in NHL history to win at least 50 games in his first five seasons with a franchise and his teams have topped the 100-point mark each year.
While Babcock's style might not be for everybody, his players adapt as they stay motivated and thrive.
"Micromanaging is what employees absolutely hate, and yet what I've found is when people don't do their job you micromanage them," Babcock said. "But when people do their job you leave them alone. We have a tendency to leave guys alone here a lot more than I did initially because I know it's getting looked after."
Oilers' Strange Early-Season Schedule
Making a schedule for a league with teams stretching from Florida to Alberta can't be an easy task. However, the Oilers' early-season slate is downright strange.
They play just six times in the season's first 22 days. That figures to make it tough for them to get into any kind of rhythm.
"At this time of the year it's good for the team to get a lot of practice in, get used to each other and get a game plan and systems down," defenseman Kurtis Foster said. "But you can only practice against each other for so long. You want to get in there and use what we're learning. And I think we'll be disappointed when it's later in the year, January, February and March, and we're playing every second day. That's when we'll be wishing they would have mixed a couple of those games into right now."
The Oilers certainly understand the schedule is not optimal. However, they are trying to find the bright side in such a quirk.
"There are some things we definitely have to get clear in our game and in our systems," Andrew Cogliano said. "So a few days of practice will give us some confidence. You want to keep playing and get in the groove a bit, but this can be a good thing. The thing I'm trying to take out of this is chemistry with the linemates. And we've done a lot of battling and game-situation drills that will help us."
Hofstra To Air Islander Broadcasts
The Islanders could not find a radio station willing to carry their games. Thus, they came to an agreement with Hofstra to air the broadcasts on the university's radio station, WRHU-FM.
It is a teaching agreement that allows various broadcasting students to serve as analysts and on the production staff. Veteran announcer Chris King remains the play-by-play voice.
While the arrangement might not be optimal, Islanders vice president of communications Paul Lancey pointed out to Newsday that the hit movie "The Social Network" is about the founder of Facebook, who was a student at Harvard at the time.
This is a landmark decision we did here. It wasn't an easy one," Lancey said. "We knew we'd get some heat. But it looks pretty damn good from our shoes."
John Perrotto is an author of Puck Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.