Fun with the CBA: Waiver Priority Order

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 1:29 am by Ryan Biech

Over the past couple of days, there have been some intriguing options placed on waivers. Dylan McIlrath, Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Pulkkinen were all exposed over the last couple of days. Yes, these players have flaws to their games, but they are still quite young and given the Canucks current situation, might’ve been worth a flyer.

There is obviously a lot that goes into the decision to claim a player on waivers, thus there are many opinions on the subject matter. But that isn’t what I wanted to cover today.

I was listening to TSN 1040 this morning, when Canucks colour commentator Dave Tomlinson was a guest with Blake Price and Matthew Sekeres. The full interview can be found here:

I don’t want to focus on the entirety of the interview, although it was great listening, I want to key in on one specific thing that was mentioned by Tomlinson at the 11:35 mark, which is below:

Every time you make a waiver claim, you go to the back of the bus.  So you can’t just claim guys willy-nilly, three days in a row.

Please be aware, this isn’t to put Tomlinson on blast here, but I am concerned when things like this are said on the radio, because as we see below, it’s incorrect. Those kind of misunderstandings can then grow and cause confusion.

I have heard this statement/rule mentioned before, and it’s not a rule within the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA. Just something that is common in your fantasy hockey league. Article 13:19 in the NHL/NHLPA CBA speaks directly about the Waiver Priority:

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 1.31.04 PM

To summarize what is said there, in the event that multiple clubs place a claim, the Waiver priority is as follows:

  • Lowest winning percentage of pointsat the time of the claim during the regular season.
  • If claim is placed before November 1st, the previous season’s regular season standings are used. 
  • In the event that the clubs have the same winning percentage of points at the time of claim, the team with the lowest winning percentage would receive the player (excluding games won in shootout).
  • If still tied, then fewest number of points against each other.
  • If still tied, then the tim with the lowest differential between goals for and goals against will receive the player.

As you will see, there is no mention of the ‘back of the bus’ rule because of another successful claim. There are no other articles within the CBA that pertain to waiver priority, thus it doesn’t exist. 

This also means that until November 1st, the Canucks are currently third in waiver priority behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers. The draft lottery doesn’t affect the waiver priority, so luckily the Canucks bad-luck stops there, for now.

So in theory, the Canucks could’ve claimed all three players, and still remained as the third highest waiver priority while adding to the depth of the organization, but that part was covered yesterday by Jeremy Davis.

The Canucks currently have 45 contracts, so adding one of the aforementioned players doesn’t hinder their outlook for the season. If they don’t work out, place them on waivers and if they clear, send them down to Utica to help out of the farm club. They are all pending RFA’s, so once again, if they don’t work out, you just don’t qualify them and move on.

As we figured out above, it doesn’t affect their waiver priority which resets on Wednesday morning.


On Emerson Etem, and reclaiming the claimed.