O’Reilly and Waivers – Updated

Chris Jonhston of Sportsnet is claiming that had the Flames signed Ryan O’Reilly to a contract the young center would have had to clear waivers this year to play for the club. Meaning Calgary could have lost a first, a third, and then the player himself to a waiver claim.

This strikes me as implausible. First, because the rule should apply to both teams, not simply the Flames. Ryan O’Reilly signed the same contract with the Avs as he did with the Flames and was a free agent. Why would he have to clear only for the Flames? In addition, I can’t see the Flames missing this in their due diligence. I also recall mention previously when we were discussing Karri Ramo that the current CBA erased this provision when it comes to RFA players.

In short, I doubt there’s a story here.

UPDATE – according to TSN and Bob MacKenzie, the rule would likely have been interpreted against the Flames, meaning O’Reilly would have been exposed to waivers. I think Calgary would have had an argument in any subsequent greivance, but it’s likely it could have been a terrible blow to the franchise had the Avs chosen to wallk away.

All of this rests on a clause depending on the player playing after the NHL season started. So, for instance, had the Flames sent an offer sheet to O’Reilly on Jan 15th when I originally wrote about the topic, this would have been moot.

I suppose it’s moot now because Colorado matched the offer, but it seems Calgary dodged a giant bullet. It will be interesting to see if there’s any fall-out for the decision-makers as a result. I assume "no" because no actual harm came to the organization, but I guess we’ll see.

It’s tough to see what was a bold, strategic move blow-up in Feaster’s face like this. Sometimes the devil is in the details though. It also shows how hard it is to acquire players like O’Reilly if you aren’t able to draft them.

UPDATE 2 – @TMrjmki posted this on twitter today, capturing this whole saga from a Flames fan perspective over the last 24 hours or so:

  • MattyFranchise

    If this is true, we really have to question the entire management of the the Flames. Between the odd signing, bizarre demotions and this, I really have no faith in the current management.

    Also, again if this is true, I am surprised that the Avalanche didn’t stick it to the Flames by taking the draft picks and watching the Flames fall to last place without the help of ROR.

  • MattyFranchise


    A player who is playing in Europe, not on loan from an NHL team, who wishes to return to the NHL after the start of the season, must first go through waivers (e.g. Nabokov), unless…

    …when that player left the NHL his rights were still controlled by an NHL team and at the time he left he still had waiver exemption remaining (e.g. Radulov).

    For what it’s worth. Either way it looks like according to standard waiver rules he would not have been exempt.

  • Im going to give Feaster the benefit of the doubt here I think. The rule is not only obscure and the situation exceptional, but the language of the rule itself is ambiguous. Im guessing if this all went down and O’Reilly got claimed the Flames would have filed a grievance with a chance of winning.

    • Greg

      I’d like to think you are right about that, but the “For further clarity” clause seems to imply someone had thought of this scenario and specifically attempted to address it. That reads like the club with the player on its reserved or rfa list would have to trade those rights to another club BEFORE they sign that player, or else they wouldn’t get the waiver exemption. It’s not black and white, (ie it doesn’t explicitly state what happens without that trade), but the fact that its there at all indicates that was considered and was the spirit of the agreement.

      Which makes sense too… RFAs would be entitled to either wait for an offer sheet, or go play in Europe while negotiating, but couldn’t threaten to play in Europe indefinitely and refusing to negotiate until they got an offer sheet they liked. It sounds very much like some clubs explicitly asked for that waiver exemption clause, and the league attempted to caveat it so as not to give the players additional and unintended negotiating leverage.

      That wouldn’t bode well for a flames grievance case. Probably couldn’t have gotten RoR exempted and at best would have been given the option to keep him in Europe until next year. Even that is dubious… Once a third club got involved by claiming him, they’d be grieved if the transaction was reversed.

      Could have been very, very ugly for flames…

    • Colin.S

      I’d put it as a certainty of winning, the language is so vague and obtuse that when I read it, there is no possessive language in that at all, meaning it doesn’t specific the signing team has to be the team with the player on it’s list.

  • Colin.S

    Again the CBA language is not “possessive”, meaning that there doesn’t appear to be language in there indicating that it has to be THAT team signing it’s own RFAs and things like that. It appears very open to interpretation.

  • redricardo

    Check out Eric Francis’ twitter timeline. He sent out one saying that this egregious oversight means that Feasters time in the NHL is numbered (apparently everyone is piling on one side or the other… Lol).

    He then released an article written by himself praising Feaster for the bold move shortly thereafter.

    People make me laugh.

  • RexLibris

    That sounds like a very suspicious article to me.

    I cannot imagine a scenario where the League and PA would put something like that into the agreement. It would make player movement and signings much more restrictive.

    I don’t know that this is piling on, but it certainly is an example of someone needing to check their facts before putting eink to epaper.

    • Stockley

      Feaster was a lawyer before he sort of fell into life as a sports exec. I just find it really hard to swallow that a man with a background in law would fail to look at the small print and overlook something like this.

    • It sounds like Johnston did some leg work on this, but the current issue exists in a very grey area, moreso because the situation is bizarre and unprecedented. it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a special addendum or clarification to the language in the CBA to avoid this happening in the future after today.

      • RexLibris

        Good point and the later details support his story. Johnston does deserve full credit for the work he did on this.

        I just find it baffling that the CBA would include such measures that stifle any mechanism that so heavily favours player pay increase and movement. I suppose though that it wasn’t drafted specifically with mid-season holdouts in mind.

  • Colin.S

    “All Players on a Club’s Reserve List and Restricted Free Agent List will be exempt from the application of CBA 13.23 Waivers in the case of “A” mid-season signing. For further clarity, if Club A trades such a Player to Club B and Club B signs the Player to an SPC, such Player will be exempt from the application of CBA 13.23″

    The word in CAPS and ” is the big deal. It does not say what kind of signing, as well it does not specify teams, it just says A signing. Again it doesn’t specify that the team that signs the player has to be the one with the player on it’s reserve list. There are a lot of IFS here, but to me, that reads that as long as a player was on a teams reserve list he can be signed and not go through waivers.

    • cpbrowner

      Exactly my thoughts. It’s unclear because it doesn’t mention anything about offer sheets. I just can’t see Feaster screwing this up, they have been looking into this for weeks.

    • MattyFranchise

      This reads to me as the player not having to go through waivers in the event of an offer sheet.

      Once the player is signed he immediately becomes listed on the teams RFA list and is then exempt from waivers.

      At least, that’s what I get from it.

        • Stockley

          I’m sure Jay is aware of it by now. They’re probably tearing apart the ins and outs of the language of the CBA to make sure they weren’t wrong before they address it.

          Good lord. McGrattan should feel at home. A dancing bear in what is turning into a real life circus.

    • Colin.S

      This to reads EXACTLY that ROR would NOT have had to clear waivers. As long as a player is on a teams reserve list he would not have to clear waivers. Again as I said previously the waivers is only going to affect players that are for the most part UFAs.

      • The inclusion of “a club’s reserve list” is the tripping point for me. Does that mean ROR would NOT have been on the Flames reserve/RFA list before being signed and therefore subject to waivers.

        Strikes me as possible but, again, unlikely.

        • If they sign him as an RFA, and he is still an RFA for them (presumably because of the qualifying offer scenario) then how would he not be?

          I guess the issue is how or when this changes depending on the “before” he signs.

        • Colin.S

          The way I read it is:

          ROR is on COL reserve list, and is allowed to be signed, because he is on the list and gets signed he does not need to clear waivers.

          The thing is, I do not get the signing him this year and then waiting till next year to sign him thing, cause you lose this years picks, which would have really be a kick in the ass, because the player you signed can’t get you out of the hole.

          No where in there does it read to me it has to be THAT team that signs him.

  • But spec just gave props to Chris Johnson on Twitter and added that Feasters head should be on a plate.

    Im so confused.

    Actually not. It was funny for a minute as I am firmly from the camp that competence and flames management are at odds.

    However, in the end it is yet another illustration of how completely pathetic sports media has become. Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts!!

    • Stockley

      Social media has become too reliant on speed. They don’t necessarily check into their facts before they hit the post button. Breaking a story first is far more important than getting it right the first time and being factual. There is so much misinformation out there it’s no wonder I think we’re getting dumber as a species.

        • Stockley

          For all his faults I’d like to think Feaster is above making this sort of colossal blunder. He’s a lawyer after all, he has built teams that won in both the NHL and AHL. If the article turns out to be correct, that it was an oversight on the part of the Flames front office… then all hope might truly be lost because you can’t fix stupid.

  • Colin.S

    Sounds more like piling on at this point, like look, the Flames suck so lets find a lot more reasons why they suck.

    I’m in agreement with you, I think the rule now only applies to UFA guys who sign after playing overseas. Pretty sure that Radulov didn’t have to clear waivers last year either. Something doesn’t make a lot of sense and I sure hope that SN checked with the league to make sure this is accurate, cause if the Flames knew what they were doing, then SN is gonna have egg on their face soon.

  • Apparently there is language in the CBA that may exempt teams from signing their own RFA’s that are also on some reserve list, which wouldn’t apply to the Flames I guess under an offer sheet.

    If it turns out the Flames would indeed have had to waive O’Reilly to play him this year, then the team likely would have just sat him for the rest of the season I imagine.

  • Stockley

    It’s just another attempt to mock the Flames. There is plenty of real life stuff to mock this franchise for. I don’t think there’s any real reason for reporters to start making stuff up.

    The guy is wrong, the story is wrong. Daly himself said that under the old CBA it was true, under the new CBA he would have been free and clear to join the Flames.