David Hale: Cap casualty

No wonder David Hale didn’t want to get carried away Saturday night when he was still standing in Ottawa following a rash of what appeared to be final cuts.

David Hale: Cap casualty
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

No wonder David Hale didn’t want to get carried away Saturday night when he was still standing in Ottawa following a rash of what appeared to be final cuts.

He knows the realities of the salary cap crunch.

Hale, who was placed on waivers by the Senators Tuesday, with the purposes of assigning him to Binghamton of the AHL, wasn’t simply fighting Brian Lee, Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba and every other defenceman in camp for a spot on the team.

He was also battling feisty forward Zack Smith. Smith and defenceman Erik Karlsson are now the only two players on the Senators roster without guaranteed NHL salaries.

By adding Smith’s $583,000 NHL salary to the books, the Senators were roughly $1.2 million under the league’s salary cap and GM Bryan Murray wants to keep the extra room in case of a major injury and/or to add a player at the trading deadline. Accordingly, also adding Hale’s $675,000 NHL salary would have left precious little space to add players later.

The situation would have been dramatically different if Murray had opted not to sign defenceman Brian Lee and right winger Ryan Shannon to guaranteed NHL contracts last spring.

Lee, who was outplayed by Hale in training camp, will start the season as the club’s sixth defenceman, armed with an $875,000 salary. Shannon, meanwhile, will make $625,000, beginning the year as a spectator.

Of course, Murray’s math problem is nothing compared to what’s facing New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. Lamoriello still has to find a way to dump $3 million in excess salary — the Ilya Kovalchuk contract put the club way over the salary cap — before the season starts.

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