by PuckStopsHere on 04/07/12 at 05:13 PM ET
In the regular season, teams are limited to 23 players on their roster and they must keep their total payroll below the salary cap. Neither of these rules remain true in playoff time and teams tend to skirt the rules to exceed both of these limits come the start of the playoffs. No team is doing it as blatantly as the Vancouver Canucks this season.
Injured Canuck players who have been on long term injured reserve and were not healthy enough to play in game 82 will be healthy for game one of the playoffs. This includes Daniel Sedin, Keith Ballard and Aaron Volpatti. Their term on the LTIR allowed the Canucks to exceed the salary cap by their salaries during the regular season. When they return during the playoffs there is no more salary cap to worry about.
Kevin Bieksa has also been out with injuries. He hasn’t been out long enough for the LTIR and he is back and healthy enough to play before the end of the season. He played on Thursday versus Calgary.
The Canucks also are allowed three callups from the AHL from the trade deadline until the end of the season for their AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves. They have saved two until the start off the playoffs. Likely they will use them on Byron Bitz and Steve Reinprecht. This would give them two more veteran players who may be useful at some point in a playoff run.
All told, Vancouver will have 28 players on the roster at a total cost of $5 million over the salary cap. That is entirely legal according to the NHL rules. Next year (barring a lockout) the Canucks will have to offload some of this talent to make the roster limits and salary cap but they will likely plan to have excess bodies around for playoff time. Potentially we wind up with teams winning the Stanley Cup that only exist during playoff time. The Stanley Cup champion team exists in no regular season and would be illegal by NHL rules except in playoff time. Is that the right way for the NHL to be run?
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