Only a few days away from the regular-season opener, the Winnipeg Jets have started trimming their roster in preparation for Tuesday’s 5 pm ET deadline to submit their final list of skaters.
On Monday, the Jets announced they’ve placed five players on waivers, including Mathieu Perreault, Luca Sbisa, C.J. Suess, Eric Comrie, and Nelson Nogier.
#NHLJets place Mathieu Perreault, Luca Sbisa, C.J. Suess, Eric Comrie, and Nelson Nogier on waivers
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) January 11, 2021
The other 30 teams in the league will have 24 hours to place a claim on any of these five skaters. But if they pass through, it’s possible all of them could make up Winnipeg’s “taxi squad” to start the season.
With Perreault in particular, if he goes unclaimed, his $4.125 million salary won’t count against the salary cap on opening night. As a result, the Jets’ payroll would shrink below the $81.5 million salary cap and would sit at approximately $79 million.
After playing 49 games and posting just seven goals and 15 points last season, there’s a strong chance the 33-year old will probably pass through waivers, allowing him to remain with the Jets. That being said, making this move before the start of the season should provide the front office an opportunity to retain a veteran forward who owns six campaigns of playoff experience.
Considering forward Trevor Lewis’ PTO is set to expire, this additional cap space could be utilized to sign him to an NHL contract, which would keep him in Winnipeg for the entirety of this season. If that occurs, then it’s possible the 34-year old could crack the club’s opening night lineup on Jan. 14.
Despite only producing six goals and 12 points through 56 games last season, Lewis is still capable of throwing his body around, as he generated 68 hits and 22 blocks. Though he’s not the same player who averaged at least 100 hits per season earlier in his career, it seems the 6-foot-1 forward could still make an impact as a fourth-line player and might be able to earn a larger role in 2021.
Based on the Jets’ current skating lines from Monday’s scrimmage, it’s possible the former Los Angeles King could open this season on the third line, as he skated alongside teammates Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry. Depending on his performance, the two-time Stanley Cup winner could receive regular playing time with that unit, which would be a solid improvement for him after he earned just 11:54 minutes of ice time per game in 2019-20.
Since forward Bryan Little isn’t expected to suit up in 2021 and has probably played his final game with the Jets, the organization will likely place him on the long-term injured reserve this week, meaning his $5.29 million salary won’t count against the salary cap and will provide this team will some additional flexibility during the season.
While other roster moves will need to be made over the next 24 hours, it appears Lewis won’t be forced to search for another job, at least for now.
The Jets are scheduled to open the regular season at home against the Calgary Flames on Thursday at 7 pm CT.