The Boston Bruins made some headlines Sunday as they waived three veterans in an effort to become salary cap compliant by the 5 PM ET deadline on Monday.
Forwards Nick Foligno and Chris Wagner, as well as defenseman Mike Reilly were on a crowded NHL waiver wire on Sunday afternoon, as teams scrambled to make sure they’re under the $82.5 million salary cap.
Ironically, Foligno and Wagner were starting to play with their trademark gritty style that new Boston Head Coach Jim Montgomery has been hoping would help the bottom six forward group form an identity. Montgomery even said flat out that he felt Wagner – who spent almost all of last season (62 games) with the Providence Bruins – had earned a spot on the 2022-23 roster.
“Yeah,” Montgomery replied when asked if Wagner had made the team on Friday. “He provides a level of physicality. Everything’s to be determined though, like when we’re gonna finalize things over the next couple of days.”
In three preseason games, Chris Wagner had a team-leading 21 hits and was being his usually disturbing self drawing two penalties.
Meanwhile, Foligno was right behind Wagner, finishing second on the team in preseason hits with 16 and also had five shots on goal and an assist. The former Columbus Blue Jackets captain looked a lot better than the forward who lit the lamp just twice in an injury-riddled 64-game season. If Foligno is not claimed, the Boston Bruins have 30 days or ten games to assign him Providence in the American Hockey League. That move would save the Bruins just $1.2 against the cap from Foligno’s $3.8M AAV in the final season of a two-year contract for the 34-year-old winger.
As for Reilly, he appears to be another victim of the cap and a numbers game on the left side. With defenseman Matt Grzelcyk now expected back a lot sooner than originally thought, the Boston Bruins would then have a total of five left-sot defensemen. So even though he had a splendid preseason with a goal and two assists, five shots and three blocked shots, Reilly and the second season of his three-year contract with a $3M AAV, is the likely odd-man out on the left side.
The Bruins could end up keeping all three players on their roster still, especially if they place winger Brad Marchand and defenseman Charlie McAvoy on injured reserve, but the read here is that, given his cap hit, his analytics stats and the ability to move the pick and play powerplay minutes, Mike Reilly is not a Boston Bruins after Noon ET on Monday.