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Report: Sami Salo probably won’t return until February

Dec 22, 2010, 9:00 PM EDT

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There were some worries that the Vancouver Canucks would have to make a tough salary cap related decision or two soon with the impending return of hard-shooting defenseman Sami Salo, but reports indicate that he probably won’t be back until February.

Salo has been dealing with a mysterious Achilles tendon injury that occurred sometime during the summer’s off-season months.

The Canucks are right at the salary cap ceiling as of this moment, so the big story is that the team will need to move salary to accommodate the return of the often injured Swedish blueliner.

Salo’s cap hit is $3.5 million while Kevin Bieska – the most common target of trade rumors – makes $3.75 million, so it makes sense that the two players may eventually play a game of salary cap musical chairs.

You can’t help but wonder how the salary cap challenges the Canucks are facing plays into all of this. The Canucks will have to dump a significant chunk of salary to make room for Salo and may be forced to trade a defenceman, likely Kevin Bieksa.

Bieksa is playing well and the team has been on a nice run, so there is obviously no urgency to get Salo back. But it was interesting to note that both head coach Alain Vigneault and associate coach Rick Bowness both referred to Salo as the team’s best defenceman in recent days.

It will be fun to see how this one plays out.

Personally, I’d rather rely on a guy who is likely to play most games like Bieksa than Salo, who ranks among the NHL’s most fragile defensemen.

Either way, it might be another month or two before this storyline works itself out. We’ll keep you updated, as always.

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