We’re deep down in the July hockey news dregs, ladies and gentlemen. So as we all wait patiently to find out when Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau will sign with the Calgary Flames, and for what term and cap hit, let’s take some time to ponder some other things that will undoubtedly factor into decision-making over the next while.
First up? The waiver wire.
Much like asking your friends if they want the last slice of pizza before you take it or throw it out, the waiver wire is the NHL’s mechanism for ensuring each team can’t stockpile good talent on its minor league roster. As a result, after a certain age (or experience) cut-off, players must be offered to the rest of the league before being placed in the AHL.
(Jeff Veillette did a great rundown of the rules over at The Leafs Nation, so we basically just stole it.)
- Based on your age and whether you’re a skater or a goalie, you’re allotted a certain amount of years of waiver exemption. The general rule is you’re waiver exempt for your entry-level contract, though it varies depending on what age they signed their first contract and how many NHL games they play.
- If a player is waived, clears, and comes back up, he has 30 days or
10 games of NHL time (whichever comes first) where he is temporarily
- Players can be sent on waiver-less “conditioning stints” for 14 days
if for a reason deemed acceptable by the league, usually due to injury or lack of playing time (*cough* Ladislav Smid *cough*).
The Flames have 38 players under contract, plus another four restricted free agents. The waiver eligible/waiver exempt split is 20 eligible, 22 exempt.
Here’s a rundown of who’s doing what, waiver-wise. Waiver exempt players are listed with when their exemption ends in brackets. If a player has a season and a number of games listed, it’s whichever comes first.
Waiver Eligible Locks: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Micheal Ferland, Alex Chiasson
Waiver Exempt Locks: Sam Bennett (2017-18 or after 71 games)
Waiver Eligible Bubble Guys: Brandon Bollig, Linden Vey, Freddie Hamilton
Waiver Exempt Bubble Guys: Hunter Shinkaruk (2017-18), Emile Poirier (2017-18), Garnet Hathaway (2017-18 or after 46 games), Daniel Pribyl (2018-19 or after 60 games), Matthew Tkachuk (2020-21 or 160 games)
Waiver Exempt Long Shots: Morgan Klimchuk (2018-19 or 160 games), Hunter Smith (2018-19 or 160 games), Austin Carroll (2018-19 or 80 games), Mark Jankowski (2019-20 or 70 games), Brett Pollock (2019-20 or 160 games), Andrew Mangiapane (2019-20 or 160 games)
Aside from Bennett losing his waiver exemption late in the season, there’s not much to fret about for the Flames forward ranks… this season. Shinkaruk and Poirier have more games of exemption left than seasons, so they’ll both become waiver eligible to begin 2017-18 (as will Hathaway, unless he plays 46 games first). The remainder of the waiver exempt forwards in the system will remain so for at least another season, some longer than that.
In terms of the Flames’ 2016-17 roster, there likely won’t be many waiver complications. Even if Bollig, Vey and Hamilton all make the team, there’s room for some youngsters (such as Shinkaruk or Tkachuk).
Waiver Eligible Locks: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland, Jyrki Jokipakka
Waiver Eligible Bubble Guys: Tyler Wotherspoon
Waiver Exempt Bubble Guys: Oliver Kylington (2020-21 or 159 games), Brett Kulak (2017-18)
Waiver Exempt Long Shots: Kenney Morrison (2018-19 or 60 games), Rasmus Andersson (2019-20 or 160 games), Ryan Culkin (2017-18 or 80 games), Keegan Kanzig (2018-19 or 160 games)
There’s a slight possibility that Wotherspoon could get poached off of waivers if sent to the farm this season. In addition, the Flames are basically into the deciding zone when it comes to Kulak as his waiver exemption is used up after this season. Culkin is also eligible next season, but probably isn’t as tempting to another club on the waiver wire. Everyone else has a fair amount of runway left.
Outside of Wotherspoon, there are likely no waiver concerns this season.
Waiver Eligible Locks: Brian Elliott, Chad Johnson
Waiver Exempt Long Shots: Jon Gillies (2018-19 or 80 games), David Rittich (2018-19 or 60 games), Mason McDonald (2020-21 or 80 games), Nick Schneider (2021-22 or 80 games)
If you want a glimpse into when the Flames think Gillies’ window is, here it is: he has two seasons to get himself NHL-ready (because after that he’s waiver eligible). Beyond him, there’s a fairly decent progression of McDonald and Schneider in terms of their eligibility.
As with forwards and defenders, there will probably be no waiver drama in net this year.
SUM IT UP
A year ago, the Flames got themselves into all kinds of avoidable trouble with waiver eligible players. Due to fear of losing third-string goalie Joni Ortio on waivers, they ended up losing Paul Byron instead. Such a thing won’t happen this season, as the Flames have 23 roster spots and only 20 waiver-eligible players for them. They have some decisions to make down the road, but this season they should be fine.