If LeClair clears waivers by Friday, the Penguins must decide whether to release him and be responsible for his US$1.5 million salary or keep him and try to work out a trade in which they might have to pick up part of his salary.
The 37-year-old LeClair, a healthy scratch for two of Pittsburgh’s last six games, signed with the Penguins in August 2005 following the NHL’s lengthy labour impasse. He had 22 goals and 51 points last season, but his ice time dipped this season after the Penguins added rookies Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.
LeClair has two goals and five assists in 21 games. His playing-time average of less than 12 minutes is the lowest for any Penguins player who has appeared in at least 20 games. By contrast, Malkin is averaging about 20 minutes.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero made the move after consulting with LeClair, who has not complained publicly about his lack of playing time.
“It’s frustrating, but you have to deal with it,” LeClair said.
LeClair, who did not accompany the Penguins to New Jersey for their game Friday night, is 33 games short of playing in 1,000 in his NHL career. He has 406 goals and 413 assists for 819 points in 967 career games.
The Penguins also assigned forward Andre Roy to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL after clearing waivers. He has played in five games this season and has been little used since being signed by former general manager Craig Patrick last year.