SCOTTSDALE -- With goaltender Dan Cloutier lost for the season, the Vancouver Canucks have acted quickly to open up salary-cap space to make room for a replacement.
Canucks general manager Dave Nonis admitted yesterday that the Canucks already have filed the necessary paperwork under the league's long-term injury provision and thereby opened up $2.45 million US in space.
"If there's a silver lining, that's it," Nonis said. "There's room now for us to do something if we have to, whether it be bringing in some more depth in net or any position."
The Canucks almost certainly will approach the Buffalo Sabres to acquire the services of Martin Biron whose salary is $2.1 million. Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolazig, at $4.94 million, is out of the question.
But Sabres GM Darcy Regier wants to keep Biron available until he is sure that Ryan Miller has fully recovered from his thumb injury.
As a result, the deal may be delayed. But Nonis says that is not a concern.
During Cloutier's absences this year, backup Alex Auld has performed creditably but the Canucks, who have Stanley Cup aspirations, would like to enter the playoffs with a better calibre of goaltending.
"Alex has done a very good job," Nonis said. "He has played well since Dan got hurt. He has proved he can play multiple games in a row. He hasn't had really very many downturns, I think he has taken a big step. For us, we'll continue to ride with Alex."
But Auld's status as the No. 1 goalie almost certainly is temporary.
"I wouldn't say we're not in the market for a goaltender ," Nonis said, "but we're not in a rush at this point. Alex just played two pretty good games against Ottawa (Senators) and the New York Rangers.
"He has proved he can play against top-calibre opponents. Our players have no problem playing in front of him. He has instilled confidence in our group."