NEWARK, N.J. – The salary-cap hampered New Jersey Devils are heading into the season with an NHL minimum 20-man roster.
Needing to shed roughly $3.5 million to get under the league's $59.4 million cap limit, the Devils placed defenseman Bryce Salvador on long-term injured reserve on Wednesday, while designating defenseman Anssi Salmela as an injured, nonroster player.
Salvador, who has a concussion, must sit out either 10 games or 24 days. Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said he will be out at least that long, and possibly longer.
Salmela is recovering from major surgery on his right knee. He has not passed his physical so can't be put on long term injured reserve.
The 20-man roster is three below the league limit. The Devils were forced to limit the roster size after the signing forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100 million contract put them over the cap. All teams had to be either under or at the cap on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
"This is just our opening day roster," Lamoriello said Wednesday night after the league approved the final roster. "We will start with 20 people. Rosters can change from day to day and Albany is only an hour and three quarters away so when time is on your side, you use it."
New Jersey also assigned defenseman Matt Taormina to Albany, while recalling center Adam Henrique.
"The bottom line is you have to be at a certain point on a certain day," Lamoriello said. "All the things that happen in between you can't get worked up about because you know where you have to be."
The Devils roster includes 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders with the major stars being Kovalchuk, left wing Zach Parise and goaltender Martin Brodeur.
The major changes from last season are the additions of free agent defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder, backup goaltender Johan Hedberg and forward Jason Arnott, who was reacquired in the offseason.
"I like our hockey team," Lamoriello said. "We'll find out more when we can play, but I am excited about our team."