Flames being held cap-tive

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Try to tell Dustin Boyd the salary cap is a good thing.

He was its latest victim yesterday.

With their regular-season opener against the Canucks in Vancouver tonight, the Calgary Flames had to scramble to get under the ceiling in time.

Although big-money makers Anders Eriksson and Rhett Warrener cleared waivers this week and were ticketed for the minor leagues, only Eriksson was sent to Quad City yesterday along with Jamie Lundmark.

Warrener was instead placed on injured reserve with a shoulder problem, so Boyd -- the only remaining player on a two-way deal who didn't have to clear waivers -- was the sacrificial lamb despite a strong pre-season that saw the 22-year-old forward net seven points in five exhibition games to sit among the league leaders.

"The reason we assigned Dustin today is because with Rhett on injured reserve, we're over the cap," Flames GM Darryl Sutter said on the Fan 960 after the announcement.

But let the speculation begin. Trade rumours will fly as long as Warrener remains in the city.

Sutter has been a loyal fan of his defensive warrior, and has been trying to peddle him to another team for months.

"As I said the other day, if I could have found a team that was going to guarantee him a spot on their team, heck, I'd take him there," said Sutter.

So, has he found someone willing?

Is the injured reserve move and subsequent AHL banishment of one of the team's most promising prospects just to buy time to complete a deal?

Or is the nagging shoulder injury serious enough for the team to believe Warrener will miss more than 10 games before being able to be re-assigned if he can't be dealt, making the team eligible for salary cap relief because of long-term injury?

Maybe someone else is on the move, and Warrener will stick around after all -- a dream situation for the veteran who lives and breathes Flames red, but an unlikely ending.

It could be that the injury is legitimate, and Warrener will join Eriksson in Quad City sooner than later.

"It's not the end of the world," Sutter said of that possibility. "He makes a lot of money, and he's a warrior and he's earned it, and you can't put a price on that."

However that situation plays out, Boyd's time in the American Hockey League should be short.

He's earned his shot at a full-time role with the Flames.

Dedicated to getting stronger in the off-season, he proved the extra weight he carried throughout training camp was paying off.

Nobody saw the salary-cap era keeping teams from putting their best lineup on the ice every night, but that's exactly what's happening now.

Boyd is undoubtedly one of the team's best dozen forwards.

So was Bobby Ryan in Anaheim, but the promising powerhouse winger drafted second behind Sidney Crosby was a cap casualty last week with the Ducks struggling to make budget despite dealing away a couple of defencemen.

Now comes Boyd, who has to be feeling a little jaded with the way things have played out.

Rightfully so, but welcome to the latest quirks of the salary cap world.


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