On Monday morning, the Winnipeg Jets made the shocking move to place veteran forward Mathieu Perreault on Waivers. Alongside four other players, Perreault will now wait until roughly 11:00 AM Tuesday to find out his fate for the 2020-21 season.
Currently in the final year of a four-year, $16.5 million deal which pays the 33-year-old a $4.125 annual average value, Perreault has seen his role on the Jets diminish in past seasons. Through the first week of Jets training camp, he has spent the majority of his time on the team’s fourth line alongside fellow veteran grinders Nate Thompson and Trevor Lewis.
Thompson, 36, signed a one-year, $750K deal with Winnipeg in the offseason, while Lewis, 34, is skating with the Jets on a professional tryout. Typically, PTOs turn into one-year contracts worth less than $1 million. Should Perreault clear Waivers, his $4.125 million would come off the books for the Jets, with the performances of Thompson and Lewis alleviated some of that cap stress.
Perreault, however, was not the only Jets player to be placed on Waivers Monday morning, as fellow forward CJ Suess, defencemen Luca Sbisa and Nelson Nogier, as well as netminder Eric Comrie.
New for the 2020-21 season is a 4-6 man ‘taxi squad’ for each NHL club, which will consist of players that travel with the team but do not count towards the salary cap. These players can be recalled at various points throughout the year, should injuries/instances of COVID-19 arise.
These players are separate from the active roster, and separate from the AHL roster – should the 2020-21 American Hockey League season actually occur. Players cut from Jets camp will report to the AHL squad, while those placed on the taxi squad will stick around and practice with the big-league team.
Some indications point to the five players placed on Waivers as the potential makeup of the Jets taxi squad, should they all go unclaimed. However, head coach Paul Maurice indicated that Perreault’s contract was moved to Waivers solely for the purpose of cap compliance, which he says shouldn’t have any implication on Perreault’s ability to be in the lineup for opening night on Thursday.
On Monday, Winnipeg held its first training camp skate at the new-look Bell MTS Place. With bright blue seat coverings over the first eight rows, as well as a new centre-ice logo, doubling as a 10th anniversary tribute/memorial to former Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk, the downtown building had a different ‘new season’ feel to it.
With the current training camp roster split up in a White vs. Blue split squad scrimmage, neither Perreault or Sbisa suited up, as the team wanted to ensure no risk of potential injury to their veteran players placed on Waivers earlier in the day.
The lines for Monday’s skate were as follows: