Today, Chris Johnson dropped a couple of bits of news. First the official team statement from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Gustav Nyquist:
Gustav Nyquist is out for the season, per #CBJ, but doesn't require surgery. He was considered a deadline trade chip prior to suffering his injury.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 1, 2023
**correcting an earlier tweet, since deleted
That’s “doesn’t require surgery”.
Nyquist was likely going to be moved, but like all players in his salary level, there would need to be talk of retention for most acquiring teams. He’s on the last year of a $5.5 million cap hit deal. But he’s also having a pretty good year, and is one of those experienced, smart and versatile players everyone loves.
Then there was more news:
Further to the Gustav Nyquist injury situation: I'm told there's still a fairly good chance he recovers from his shoulder injury before the end of the regular season. Perhaps even for the final two weeks.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 1, 2023
That will keep him in play as a trade chip at the March 3 deadline.
Columbus wants everyone to know he’s still on the market.
Now this is a weird situation because a team that acquires him — let’s say for fun, they do it today — they would need to be able to fit that cap hit on the roster and then put him on LTIR, making it then vanish. If the team is in LTIR the pool has to be $5.5 million, Nyquist jumps in, then the pool magically expands back to $5.5 million as he is himself put on LTIR.
Does this sound familiar? This is the Riley Nash manoeuvre from 2021. The trick is the player has to be so injured that they really can’t be expected to play for the entire rest of the regular season, but can be plausibly cleared once the playoffs start.
The Riley Nash plan didn’t work out so well because Nash was done at the NHL level, he just didn’t know it until he tried one more year on three different teams. Nash was also not really game-ready coming off a knee injury, and he appeared in only two of the Leafs playoff games to no great acclaim.
His cap hit was very small, and the trick was easy to pull. For a team in LTIR space today — Cap Friendly says there are 17 teams with at least one player on LTIR — they’d need a pool big enough to hold Nyquist’s arrival. To get that, you’d need a very expensive player on LTIR, which means he’d be out of action for at least 24 days from the date of the injury.
There are a few teams who could technically do this deal. Washington could with a little fiddling around, Carolina could in an instant by putting Max Pacioretty on LTIR, Pittsburgh might be able to finesse it, as could the Devils, and Colorado could do it right now with no moves needed.
There might be other teams that have a player just sitting on IR who makes over that cap hit, one who is going to miss enough time. Not sure who that might be or if they like wingers, Swedes or guys who used to play in Detroit...