The Penguins recalled winger Eric Tangradi from Wheeling of the ECHL Thursday morning, about 12 hours after it was announced the young player was sent there. Many an eyebrow was been raised over this move. Why was it done?
Well, it’s complicated, but obviously necessary or else it wouldn’t have been done in the first place.
Pro Hockey Talk has a likely theory:
They put center Jordan Staal on the injured non-roster list because he didn’t participate in training camp and placed prospects Alex Grant and Casey Pierro-Zabotel on injured reserve.
The injured non-roster list is something relatively new to us (or we’re totally ignorant on the Collective Bargaining Agreement) and Bryan Reynolds of Hockey Wilderness figured out what that means when discussing Wild forward James Sheppard. You can apply the same stuff to Jordan Staal in this case. In short, Staal being on the injured non-roster list doesn’t give the Penguins relief from his cap hit.
Lost in the jumble there somehow the Penguins are perilously close to or over the salary cap with the 23 active players they’ve got on the roster and Tangradi is one of the few players they could send to the minor leagues without going through waivers.
Until the Penguins can get Jordan Staal on the LTIR or have Grant or Pierro-Zabotel medically cleared, this awkward set up will hold up.
Tangradi, it should be noted, is the ONLY current player who can be sent down the minors without passing waivers.
So why was he sent to the lower level ECHL instead of the higher-level AHL minor league team in Wilkes-Barre? Either way his contract comes off the NHL salary cap.
Think geography. It’s 60 miles from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, while Wilkes-Barre is about 265 miles away. And the NHL has a rule that a player demoted must show proof he actually arrived at the minor league level. So to save Tangradi a lot of miles and time, it makes more sense to have him take the quick jaunt to Wheeling.
And he’ll probably get really familiar with the trip in the near future, due to a weird wrinkle in the NHL’s lengthy and complicated salary cap world.