The irony for the cap-strapped Vancouver Canucks is that a serious injury to Sami Salo makes Mason Raymond's new salary more palatable.
At least in the short term.
The Canucks came to terms with Raymond on Monday, narrowly avoiding an arbitration hearing at which the restricted free agent was going to ask for $3.6-million (all currency U.S.) against Vancouver's offer of $2.3-million. In the end, the speedy winger from Cochrane, Alta., settled for a two-year deal that averages $2.55-million a season.
"He's a young player whose trajectory is shooting upward and we've given ourselves security with our two-year cap plan," assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said. "We spent some quality time with Mason and his representative. We exchanged [arbitration]proposals, so each side knew their strengths and weaknesses, and both sides wanted to make a deal."
Raymond, 24, scored 25 goals and had 53 points in last season, his third in the NHL. He earned $760,000 and achieved a $90,000 games-played bonus, which will be deducted from the team's spending limit this season, meaning the Canucks' cap is $59.3-million for the 2010-11 campaign.
Vancouver has re-signed all its restricted free agents, and the team has 26 players under contract for about $63-million, meaning some adjustments will have to be made before the season begins on Oct. 7.
Salo is due to undergo major surgery on a torn Achilles tendon, which he suffered playing floorball in his native Finland. The Canucks only became aware of the injury last Thursday, meaning the additions of blueliners Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis this summer were not pre-emptive strikes to account for Salo's loss.
Gilman said that Salo, 35, has no chance of being physically ready when training camp begins in mid-September. The Canucks are planning on beginning the season without Salo, so he is likely to be placed on the long-term injury list, which will provide temporary cap relief. Officially, Salo is out "indefinitely."
"The potential exists to invoke the long-term injury exception," Gilman said. "There may be some trades, there may be further injuries. … There are a lot of variables between now and [September]"