The Bruins placed Nick Foligno, Mike Reilly, and Chris Wagner on waivers Sunday, trimming their roster before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
By then, all teams must be salary cap-compliant and have no more than 23 active players. The Bruins would clear those bars after waiving those three.
If the players go unclaimed by Monday, the Bruins have 30 days (or 10 games) to assign them to Providence. If not, they could keep them around.
Another managerial option: placing injured stars Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy — both expected back in late November — on long-term injured reserve. That would temporarily take their salary cap hits off the ledger and open up spots for other players.
Those at the fringes of the lineup at camp’s end include Foligno, Wagner, and Reilly — who, again, could remain Bruins — and youngsters Jakub Lauko (22), Jack Studnicka (21), and A.J. Greer (25). Given that they were not waived, they would seem to have a leg up in making the team. Much lighter on experience than Foligno (1,029 NHL games), Wagner (359) and Reilly (329), the three played energetic hockey in camp.
Greer (47 NHL games) and Studnicka (37) have seen limited action. Lauko’s next NHL game will be his first. He also has the most contractual flexibility of any player in camp; like Greer and Studnicka, his salary cap hit is less than $15,000 above the league minimum (which is $750,000), but Lauko is the only one left in camp who can be sent to the AHL without clearing waivers.
So it would seem likely that Lauko would be first to move when Taylor Hall is cleared from his upper-body injury. Hall was in a noncontact jersey at Saturday’s morning skate in Brighton.
Of the three waived on Sunday, Reilly has the best chance of being picked up by another team.
The 29-year-old defenseman creates offense with smart, decisive passes. While his cap hit ($3 million) and length of contract (two years left) may not fit in Boston, several clubs could be interested (think rebuilding teams such as Chicago, which could showcase him and flip him), plus, he is from Minnesota. Reilly was reasonably productive in a second-pair, second-power-play role last season: 4-13—17 line in 70 games.
He arrived here in an April 2021 trade from Ottawa. He played his best hockey as a Bruin that spring, when he recorded eight assists in 15 games, plus four assists in 11 playoff games.
Reilly being waived could be a sign of Matt Grzelcyk’s progression. Grzelcyk, who plays the same role as Reilly, is progressing after offseason shoulder surgery (Reilly recovered from a minor ankle surgery). Grzelcyk last week was cleared for contact, though his availability is unknown for Wednesday’s season opener in Washington.
Less likely to be claimed, largely because of age and contract figures: Foligno, 34 and on an expiring $3.8 million deal; and Wagner, 31 and on the last year of a deal that pays $1.35 million.
Foligno, who said he is healthy after a rough 2021-22, felt he was trending up. He had a summer of explosive training after injuries left him unable to stress his back the previous offseason.
Foligno, Montgomery commented, has made his living crashing the net and making plays from below the circles. That’s where he has been of late, with plenty of energy on the forecheck.
Wagner, who spent all but one game last season in Providence, rebuilt his skating stride over the summer and was an effective forechecker in the preseason. He showed in the preseason he is capable of playing his seek-and-destroy game. He could be the Bruins’ 13th or 14th forward this year.
If the Bruins send Foligno, Reilly, and Wagner to the AHL, they would carry a cap charge of about $4.765 million. Teams that send a player on a one-way contract to the minors must still carry that contract, minus a fluctuating amount tied to a given year’s minimum salary (plus $375,000). Because the minimum salary this year is $750,000, teams get $1.125 million of cap relief when they “bury” a contract in the AHL.
The Bruins, who still could sign tryout defenseman Anton Stralman, could place McAvoy ($9.5 million) and/or Marchand ($6.125 million) on long-term injured reserve to start the season. More moves ahead when those players return.