Could Mathieu Perreault have played his last game as a Winnipeg Jet?
That's a question that could be answered by 11 a.m. Tuesday morning as the Jets placed Perreault and four other players on waivers Monday. Veteran defenceman Lucas Sbisa, goalie Eric Comrie, forward C.J. Suess and defenceman Nelson Nogier were also placed on waivers.
With teams required to trim down to at least a 23-person roster by 4 p.m. Tuesday, 89 players were placed on waivers across the NHL. Perreault, along with Montreal's Corey Perry and Vancouver's Loui Eriksson, were among the headline grabbers for the busy waiver day.
Perreault, 33, is coming off an injury-riddled 2019-20 season where he played in 49 games, recording seven goals and eight assists. He has played six seasons with the Jets, and is in the final year of a three-year deal with a salary cap hit of US$4.125 million.
The shifty forward pulled up lame on the first day of training camp but returned a few days later and seemed to have solidified a spot on Jets' fourth line, alongside veterans Nate Thompson and Trevor Lewis. But once the news broke Perreault had been placed on waivers, he was nowhere to be seen at Monday's practice.
"This is wholly and completely a cap-compliance issue, the details of which I’ll have to leave to somebody who understands those details better," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. "But we need to be at a certain place for opening day and it doesn’t change. There’s always the chance Mathieu could get claimed on waivers but if he doesn’t, nothing changes in terms of his ability to be in the lineup opening night."
The Jets have attempted to trade Perreault in recent years. Once a utility piece that could be used up and down the lineup, Perreault has battled injuries and inconsistentcy when it comes to scoring. After averaging nearly 40 points through his first four seasons in Winnipeg, Perreault had 45 points in his last two campaigns.
But Perreault, who is affectionately known by his teammates as "Frenchie" for his Quebec roots, is a key piece to the locker room. That he could be with another club by Tuesday is simply the business side of the NHL, Jets forward Andrew Copp said, but that doesn't make it any easier.
"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. Frenchie has been here since I've been here. He’s one of the guys that brings it every day, is an important piece going up and down the lineup," Copp said. "I don't exactly know who else is on so I don't want to speak about too much but it's definitely a business and this year with the flat cap, you know things are gonna happen. So, hopefully our team doesn't get changed too much because we like the direction we're going."
If Perreault is able to clear waivers then it's likely the Jets would either add him back to their 23-person roster or have him join the taxi squad. The taxi squad is a group of four to six additional players available to each team to help combat the uncertainty of playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Players on the taxi squad wouldn't count against the salary cap so long as they aren't on the 23-person roster.
While decisions still need to be finalized, there's reason to believe Sbisa, Comrie, Suess and Nogier, assuming they all clear waivers, will be candidates for the taxi squad.
Meanwhile, the Jets released goalie Cole Kehler and defenceman Jimmy Oligny from their professional tryout, while reassigning seven players — goalie Mikhail Berdin; defencemen Declan Chisholm, Luke Green and Johnathan Kovacevic; and forwards Joona Luoto, Skyler McKenzie and Kristian Reichel — to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.
More moves will need to be made by Tuesday's deadline, with younger players such as forwards Kristian Vesalainen and David Gustafsson, as well as defensemen Dylan Samberg and Logan Stanley, all able to be reassigned to the Moose.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.