Devils get salary cap relief as league declares Mogilny unfit to play

The New Jersey Devils GM got the news he desperately wanted Tuesday when the NHL informed him that veteran winger Alexander Mogilny can be placed on the long-term injury exception list, freeing up the US$3.5-million he was scheduled to earn this season in salary cap space.

That comes two days after Lamoriello got rid of Vladimir Malakhov’s $3.6-million salary in a trade with San Jose, which cost him a first-round draft pick.

The combined $7.1 million in savings under the cap will permit the Devils to re-sign star winger Brian Gionta as well as defencemen David Hale and Paul Martin. The three restricted free agents missed all of the pre-season as they waited for Lamoriello to clear up his salary cap troubles.

The last step was Mogilny, who because he was 35 when he signed a two-year deal last summer would count against the cap this season even if he retired. But the Devils convinced the NHL that his chronic hip injury was caused while he played for the Devils, which qualifies him for the long-term injury exception list.

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The league examined the case and had Mogilny see a doctor before allowing the Devils to place him on the injured list.

“The neutral physician . . . determined that the player is disabled and unable to perform his duties as an NHL hockey player, which includes playing in NHL games,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press in an e-mail.

So the Devils get off the hook, which likely won’t please other GMs around the league who were closely monitoring the situation.

As for Mogilny, retirement could be in his future.

“I think he’s going to wait and see and analyse what he can do with his hip,” Mogilny’s agent J.P. Barry said Tuesday. “Right now he’s in too much pain to play at the level that he needs to be at to play in the NHL.”