Jordan Martinook on waivers: What are the Hurricanes doing? This.

Carolina is doing salary cap gymnastics ahead of the start of the 2022-23 season

Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook was put on waivers Friday in the first of several forthcoming moves to make Carolina cap compliant by the NHL’s 5 p.m. Monday roster deadline. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes put forward Jordan Martinook on waivers Friday, a move that surprised many since the 30-year-old is an alternate captain and has been a key leader in helping turn around the franchise.

But this is a business, and that’s what this move is about.

Let’s unpack how we got here and where we’re headed (with a lot of help from

The salary cap ceiling for the 2022-23 season is $82.5 million, and the Hurricanes currently have a cap hit of $86,904,417 with the NHL maximum of 23 players on the roster.

The roster number doesn’t account for two injured players, Max Pacioretty and Jake Gardiner, or Derek Stepan, who will likely be signed off his player tryout once the team positions itself to be cap compliant.

One move will be shifting Gardiner, who suffered a setback in his rehab after missing all of last season, and his $4.05 million cap hit to long-term injured reserve (LTIR).

The goal from there will be for Carolina to get as close as possible to the top of its LTIR pool of $86.55 million ($82.5M plus $4.05M) for Monday’s 5 p.m. roster deadline. The closer the Hurricanes get to that ceiling, the more cap space they’ll have for the season.

There’s still work to be done. To sign Stepan, Carolina needs to clear a roster spot and be cap compliant.

The Hurricanes probably don’t want to carry eight defensemen, but placing either Ethan Bear or Jalen Chatfield on waivers could lead to them being claimed. Teams have been tied to Bear in trade rumors (Vancouver and Ottawa have both been mentioned), while Chatfield is inexpensive ($762,500 cap hit) and would be attractive to teams tight against the cap.

Why risk losing an asset for nothing when you potentially don’t have to?

Enter Martinook. The veteran winger can still contribute to an NHL lineup but carries a $1.8 million cap hit for the next two seasons. Furthermore, his contract is backloaded — he makes $1.8 million in cash this season, but it climbs 150% to $2.7 million in 2023-24.

The cap-strapped teams who might want an energy player like Martinook will likely look at his cap hit and bristle. The handful of teams that could fit him under the cap probably aren’t enamored with committing to paying him $4.5 million for two years, especially for a player who has played 148 of a possible 226 regular season games (65.5%) the past three seasons due to injuries.

So that’s one benefit of putting Martinook on waivers. The other is he makes more than $1.125 million, the maximum amount a team is allowed to “bury” in the minors. So to get as close as possible to that $86.55 million LTIR pool on Monday, Carolina would still use $675,000 ($1.8M minus $1.125M) toward their cap. This is why Martinook and not Stefan Noesen is on waivers. The team can also send Jack Drury or even Seth Jarvis to the Wolves at will (both are waivers-exempt), but it doesn’t help the cap situation.

Anyway, burying Martinook’s salary would put the Hurricanes $770,583 from the LTIR pool ceiling. All that is left to do at that point is to sign Stepan (I’m sure he would take $20,583 more than the $750,000 NHL minimum if Carolina asked him) and enter their roster on Monday.

One small problem: The Hurricanes want Martinook on the team.

That, of course, would require making both cap and roster space. Here we go again.

If things go according to plan, the LTIR space will be set and locked in by Tuesday at 5 p.m. This is when we look back at the defense. As previously mentioned, I believe the team would prefer to have seven defensemen, and Bear’s $2.2 million cap hit is a bit steep for a player who appears to be on the outside looking in on the depth chart. That said, he still has value — remember, why give up an asset when you can get something for it?

The good news is that by getting under the cap first, the Hurricanes don’t have to trade a defenseman from a position of weakness. They don’t have to trade Bear or anyone, it would just delay the return of Martinook. (By the way, I don’t believe, based on GM Don Waddell’s comments, Martinook would be expected to report to the Chicago Wolves unless things drag out.)

All of this is contingent on Martinook clearing waivers. If he doesn’t — well, we’ll cross that bridge when it happens.