The Pittsburgh Penguins have come into compliance with the NHL’s $82.5 million salary-cap ceiling.
And they did it in a way that seemed unlikely just a few days ago.
Ty Smith, who was a fixture on the No. 3 defense pairing throughout the preseason, has been assigned to their farm team in Wilkes-Barre.
A key to the move: Smith, who did not play a game in the minors during his first two pro seasons, did not have to clear waivers to go there.
His $863.333 cap hit comes off their books while he is in the American Hockey League.
Per figures on CapFriiendly.com, when Smith’s cap hit and that of Mark Friedman ($775,000), who also has been sent to Wilkes-Barre, are removed from the mix, the Penguins have about $83,000 in cap space.
The deadline to become cap-compliant is 5 p.m. Monday, by which time NHL clubs also have to have no more than 23 players on their active NHL roster.
Smith’s demotion allowed the Penguins to avoid exposing P.O Joseph to waivers, where he almost certainly would have been claimed by another club.
Joseph was a depth defenseman throughout training camp, but it clearly was a priority to keep him in the Penguins’ pool of NHL-caliber players at this position.
It was not immediately known whether he will move into Smith’s old spot alongside Jan Rutta on the No. 3 pairing. The other candidate for that duty would be Chad Ruhwedel, who is right-handed.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will begin regular-season play Thursday at 7:08 p.m. against Arizona at PPG Paints Arena.
Here is what the Penguins’ 22-man roster, which includes 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders, looks like now: