The business side of Perreault-fessional hockey means the future of a Winnipeg Jets fan favourite is up in the air.
Winger Mathieu Perreault, known for his infectious smile as much as his speed, is one of five players the Jets put on waivers on Monday as NHL teams prepare to finalize their rosters by Tuesday.
Others joining Perreault on the waiver wire include defencemen CJ Suess, Luca Sbisa, forward Nelson Nogier and goaltender Eric Comrie.
“You really hope the guys that are on waivers for us today don’t get picked up because they’re important parts of our room,” said Jets centre Andrew Copp, who was on a line with Perreault at points during the Jets training camp.
“Frenchie’s been here since I’ve been here. He’s one of the guys that brings it everyday [and] is an important piece coming up and down the lineup. Hopefully, our team doesn’t get changed too much ’cause we like the direction we’re going.”
Waivers allow a team to send a player to a minor affiliate team, thereby removing their salary from the cap for the time they are in the minors. However, there is a waiting period before the player must report to the minors, during which they can be picked up by another team.
Once in the minors, the player can be recalled to the big club whenever needed.
It is not expected by most hockey pundits that Perreault, 33, will get picked up because his $4.1M salary this year would be a big hit to most team’s salary caps. He is in the final year of a four-year, $16.5M contract extension.
Other former Jets to hit the waivers Monday include former team captain Andrew Ladd (now with the New York Islanders), Michael Frolik (Calgary), Anthony Bitetto (New York Rangers), Carl Dahlstrom (Vegas) and Cameron Schilling (Washington Capitals).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related interruptions to revenue streams, the NHL retained the 2021 salary cap at the $81.5 million per team that it was the previous season.
“This is wholly and completely a cap compliance issue,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said about the Perreault move.
“We need to be at a certain place for opening day [salary-wise]. There’s always the chance Mathieu could get claimed on waivers [but] if he doesn’t, nothing changes in his ability to be in the lineup opening night.”
New to the NHL this year — specifically designed around COVID-19 — is something called a taxi squad. Each team is allowed to have a group of four to six players beyond their roster limit travel with them for away games.
The players can be suited up to play at anytime, should injuries or instances of COVID-19 arise and make room on the roster. While on the taxi squad, their salaries do not count toward the team’s cap.
Perreault joined the Jets in the 2014-15 season after his contract with Anaheim expired. His biggest moment as a Jet came soon afterwards when, on Jan. 13, he scored four goals in an 8–2 rout of the Florida Panthers.