On Flexibility and the Waiver Wire

Joni Ortio signed a new contract yesterday. When he appeared on Sportsnet 960 radio to discuss the deal, Flames general manager Brad Treliving explained that Ortio was able to bounce between the NHL and AHL this season – which is probably one of the reasons Ortio was willing to sign for the terms he did. He’s both waiver exempt and on a two-way for 2014-15, but on a one-way in 2015-16, with the implication that the club really wants to audition him for an NHL job soon.

Ortio’s not the only player in the organization with this much flexibility.


From the CBA:

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 10.18.06 AM

Age refers to the CBA age at which they sign their first contract. In general, everyone gets three years, goalies get four years. Once you’re no longer waiver exempt, you become the proverbial last slice of pizza, offered to everybody else in the league before you’re sent down to the minors.


To begin 2014-15, especially training camp, the Flames have a lot of players who are waiver exempt.

First year pros: Johnny Gaudreau, Bryce van Brabant, Emile Poirier, Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino, David Wolf, Brett Kulak, Ryan Culkin

Second year pros: Sean Monahan, Josh Jooris, Markus Granlund, Ben Hanowski, Turner Elson, Tyler Wotherspoon, Patrick Sieloff, John Ramage

Third year pros: Sven Baertschi, Max Reinhart, Michael Ferland

Ortio’s a fourth-year pro who barely played in the NHL (or North America even) until last year. He’s exempt until he accumulates 63 more NHL games-played (his number is reduced from the 80 overall I believe since he signed and began his deal under the last CBA). He’s not exempt at all in 2015-16.


Most of the names on the waiver exempt list are Calgary’s best prospects and likely Adirondack’s best players. If Treliving wants to reward performance in the AHL, he can rotate these guys through the NHL at his leisure, as he doesn’t need to worry about waivers for basically any of the team’s key young players.

Expect a lot of movement this season, and a lot of roster uncertainty at the end of training camp as players jostle for the last few open spots.

  • Basshole39

    Should use this year on development, giving all the kids a taste and ending the year with a clear idea of who they have going forward.

    Same for the vets, with the expectation they’ll be dropping/trading 4-6 before the end of the year/next spring’s draft….

  • beloch

    At the start of the season I see two young forwards up and hopefully playing, If they struggle then replace then with the forwards who are playing well in the AHL. As the season is progresses hopefully we will have a better idea of where the prospects are and can make decide who will be NHLers.

    On the backend I see one ready(Wspoon) and hopefully he plays and is not sitting as the 7th, he would be better off playing 20 minutes a night in the AHL rather than playing the odd game in the NHL as 5/6th.
    With so many guys who can move freely between the NHL and the AHL they had better reward effort, ability and production; not just the vets.

    • MichaelD

      I disagree a little. I think practicing at the NHL level everyday and watching from the press box with coaches, while getting the odd game could actually do a fair amount of positives.

      Although I hope it’s somewhere in the middle. I hope he gets some solid minutes in the AHL, but also gets a good few months with the Flames even if it’s as a 7th.

  • RexLibris

    If you’ve got young players who need to develop you play the hell out of them at an appropriate level that allows them to be challenged while still offering a reasonable chance of success.

    Sitting a kid in the press box to watch games while he practices with the big club during the off days isn’t going to help them at all.

    I’d suggest the Flames find one or two players, preferably wingers, who can play regular minutes, be sheltered to the extent that the roster allows, and then have the rest play a leading role in the AHL. Wotherspoon especially. He is at a stage in his development where he needs to be one of the guys for the Heat. Maybe give him an occasional call up in case of injury during the season. If he can do that, then next season maybe he makes the jump. If he can’t then repeat next season and begin to expect that may be the ceiling of his development.

    For me, it comes down to one of Baertschi, Reinhart or Ferland making the team out of camp, and I’d default to Baertschi and Ferland on the wings.

    Leave Reinhart for one more season and, depending on play, have him as one of the 1st callups.

    The season after this one you ideally want the C depth to be Backlund and Monahan with Reinhart stepping in to replace Matt Stajan’s eventual role as a depth C and potential penalty-killer.

    • When you look at the organization and depth I think it will be Johnny and Granlund although Sven is in the mix. Rhino spent most of last season as a wing and will likely play on the wing.

      Center position: Backs, Stajan, Monahan and— Bennett(I could see him getting his 9 game look), Granlund, Knight, Arnold and Jooris.

      Wingers: Hudler, GlenX, Bouma, Colborne, Raymond, Bollig, Byron, DJones, McG, Johnny, Sven, Rhino, Ferland, Wolf, van B, Poirier, Agostino, I probably missed someone,

      Again roll 4 lines at the NHL level shelter the young guys by playing with vets and zone starts.


      Johnny, Backs, Bouma (D zone starts)
      Glenx,Stajan, Djones/Byron (Dzone starts)
      hudler/Monahan/Colborne (O zone starts)
      Raymond/Bennett(Granlund)/Bollig(O zone starts)

      • Willi P

        While I agree it would be nice to get a nice return for Glencross, my gut tells me if the Flames don’t sign him, he will not agree to a trade and will walk as a UFA (or maybe even retire). IMO, his rodeo culture/lifestyle is as or more important to him than making more millions in the NHL.

        • MonsterPod

          Then we should trade him to Dallas, no? Yee-haw!

          I think these hometown discounts sometimes backfire. Management has a long talk with a player and discusses heart and team mentality and how there’s more to life than money, and the player agrees. Then management thinks they can suddenly contend and they overpay for free agents.

          St. Louis has been building wisely and well for years now and suddenly they splash FA and Statsny is their highest paid player. I know guys understand the process and want to win but that can’t help but irk the core a bit.

          GlenX took a discount and now he’s opposite D. Jones getting 4M. Then he looks back and Wideman is scooping 5.25M, more than double what GlenX is, and I would argue GlenX contributes more to the team than either of those guys.

          I don’t blame him for wanting his due. If he has a good year, the Flames should double his salary but insist on a 3-4 year deal. If it’s true that Raymond and Poirier can play the right side, then having GlenX in the mix with Baertschi and Gaudreau on the left could work fine. Klimchuk is still young and a few years away.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I just wanted to throw out there how excited I am about Sam Bennett. I’m happy we got ’em, and I’m happy that he’s happy to be here. That’s the kind of positive culture we want around here. Regardless how you feel about him staying up, being sent back, or getting his 9 game cup of coffee, I just feel like sometimes people forget that he’s a Calgary Flame, our newest top prospect, and he’s a huge part of our future.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          Sultan: I just don’t get this comment, I have not seen much if anyone being negative towards Bennett.I’m excited he signed but I’m not sure we need to rush him as we now have depth at the center ice position with the following: Backs, Stajan, Monahan,Granlund, Knight and Arnold all of whom are older and more physically ready than Bennett.( I excluded Janko as he is going back to the NCAA) I look forward to seeing something like the following as our centers for years to come: Monahan, Bennett, Backs and one of Granlund,Knight Arnold or Janko. Heck some of these guys may need to be wingers down the road. I don’t think anyone I know on thsi sight have forgotten him but most would like to see him not rushed.

  • Michael

    The third year guys are the most interesting (Sven Baertschi, Max Reinhart, Michael Ferland)as the pressure is on them to keep or improve their place on the org chart. They have some pretty decent competition coming up from below, so I really hope they strut their stuff this year. The pressure is really on Sven to regain his NHL form…

  • beloch

    Last season was rough for Baertschi. Burke started ripping on him in public press conferences before the season even started. Despite putting up acceptable offensive numbers, his defensive game was questioned and he wound up in Hartley’s dog house. This happened in spite of the fact that rookies often don’t play the defensive side of the game very well. Monahan was doing no better at the time but got a pass because he couldn’t be sent down. Being sent down to the AHL pretty much drove a stake through what was left of Baertschi’s heart. It took him over a month to start producing there. There was a lot to like about how the team developed talent last year, but the mishandling of Baertschi wasn’t part of that.

    This season, I sincerely hope Burke keeps his yap shut if he’s inclined to diss rookies in public during the preseason again. It’s bad enough to throw seasoned vets under the bus before the season begins, but rookies? Unacceptable. Baertschi did recover by the end of the season, but he never really dominated the AHL to the degree his junior or NHL numbers suggested he should. Starting him in the AHL may be the best course of action even if he appears ready for the NHL out of camp. Let the kid develop some swagger before you bring him back up. If this is done, Baertschi might be ready to make an impact in the second half of the Flames’ season.

    • Willi P

      Very well said regarding the Burke/Sven business. I’m glad that Treliving has brought a fresh pair of eyes into the organization, and I hope he doesn’t see Baertschi the same way as Burke does/did.

      Let him play under the radar in Adirondack at the beginning of the season if there’s even a shred of doubt in him, and let him develop there. No point having him making mistakes at the NHL level if coaches/management are going to rip for any errors he does make this year, a year that’s supposed to be a developmental season. It would just destroy the kid’s confidence, and I think we all know how big that is for a hockey player. Just ask Matt Stajan about his confidence under Sutter vs Hartley.

  • beloch

    Upfront there is a lot of competition, We have 8 established NHL vets(I almost think it is to many), 4 forwards who emerged last year and a large number prospects who should push each other both for NHL positions and the at the AHL level. I want them all to earn their chances.

    Someone mentioned Sieloff and for him I would consider it a success to be healthy and be a 3/4 defender for the entire season in the AHL.(He could be brought up for a few games but I don’t want to have to high of expectations)

    • ChinookArchYYC

      With this signing I wonder if Cundari becomes the 7th defenceman or if he becomes Derek Smith and is the emergency call up.

      As for BT being busy he is just going housekeeping; all the signings of RFA’a while some may be complex is his job and he has a staff to help him. Beyond his house keeping he has added 3 UFA’s Hiller, Raymond (both most of us agree are good additions)and Engg’s(many on this sight question this signing especially at the cost). He lead the draft again with the support of his team and traded for Bollig which some question the logic of. GM’s during the off season are expected to do. Let’s get excited or critical about BT (depending on your perspective on him and what he does) when something significant happens not just him doing housekeeping.

      • mattyc

        yep. I kinda doubt signing those RFAs is a complex or time consuming process. I even wonder if it’s BT negotiating, or one of the AGMs.

        re: Cundari – With the Engelland signing, he’ll have to beat out Wotherspoon and Seiloff, but I guess that’s possible.

      • Rockmorton65

        I respectfully disagree. I think we should get excited about the moves he’s making. They are smart, calculated moves that actually push the club forward. All the FAs have been signed to decent-excellent contracts. I’m excited that BT didn’t follow in the footsteps of previous GMs and sign a guy like Jokinen or Orpik to a 5/25 type deal “because we needed a veteran presence. There were many deals like that, and BT resisted the temptation. He seems to have a plan. So far, I am very impressed.

        • Rockmorton65

          Signing your RFA’s after you have qualified them and they have accepted it and not gone to arbitration is something all GM’s should be able to do so it’s not something that impresses me. Getting Colborne signed before arbitration was more impressive but hardly earth moving. Not chasing old UFA’s is a good thing but not overly exciting(hold on Engs is 32 and he signed him for 3 years at almost $3 million, that is counter to you point)

          I am glad he seems to have a plan and overall it seems consistent. I will more impressed when he gets Backs, Brodie signed and Gio extended. So far almost everything he has done is housekeeping and yes housekeeping needs to be done but not something to get excited about.

          • Rockmorton65

            It’s not his accomplishments that impresses me, it’s his process. It’s not what he’s done, but how he does it. I think his priorities are spot on. There is literally nothing he’s done to this point to make me believe that he’s not building a contender.

          • MonsterPod

            Can you explain to me what you mean by his process? I don’t see it as being any different than others. I would question how adding a 32 journeyman defenceman and suggesting he will improve by being a Flame is consistent with the direction this team need to go, especilly for 3 years at @$3m a year. You have to understand I am satisfied with job he has done but not impressed.

          • Rockmorton65

            He’s been adding pieces to buy the kids time, not so we compete now. Hiller is not here to make us a contender, he’s here to provide competition for the starters role, until someone proves they are a bonafide starter. We haven’t had that since the “young guns” era. I personally think he and Ramo are just placeholders until Ortio and Gillies are ready.

            Same thing with the forwards. With the majority of the prospects on two way, waiver exempt deals (not an accident, btw),they all have to earn their spot. In just a few short months, he has taken the hard working culture from last year and given it a shot of adrenaline. Anyone (vets included) will have to earn their spot on the roster. This organization has never had that.

            I think it’s brilliant that there is only one player signed beyond three years. We’re in a “see what we’ve got” mode. Once we see which players he wants on this team long term, he can lock them up. Those that don’t work out, we’re not tied to them.

            I think the Engelland signing has flashes of brilliance to it. It gets us to the floor, the term is totally reasonable, you can justify having that money sit in the press box if need be. I’ve heard he’s a great leader. If they need to send him to the minors, with that cap hit, there’s no risk of losing him to waivers. I don’t know why some people are getting their panties in a bunch over the money. It’s not that bad. It’s essentially what we paid Butler and Smith combined. Seriously, which contract would you rather have right now, Engelland’s or Orpik’s? If Engelland provides some veteran leadership, chips in a highlight reel hit or two and helps the kids in practise, 3 mil per for 2 yrs is nothing at this stage of the rebuild.

          • Rockmorton65

            In your previous post you talked about process but none of the things you mention here are process(to be honest we will never know the process, ie how much direction vs consultation goes on)

            I won’t disagree with you on Hillier as I think it was a good signing but not impressive.

            The prospects on two way deals is standard protocol so I would not give him much credit there. The fact that most of these prospects are from the previous GM is fortunate and we can judge BT in a few years when his picks start hitting the cupboards.

            Your point about the vets needing to earn there job is only valid if Hartley is able to get beyond a common thread among coaches that vets are better than rookies(there is a long history of that throughout pro sports)

            As for Engelland I believe there were better options but I’m prepared to wait and see.

            IMO the job BT has done so far has been adequate(too short of sample to judge) not impressive and you and I will have to just disagree. His moves over the next few years will determine that.

  • Rockmorton65

    Flexibility and the waiver wire are a good thing for team in the rebuilding process if the coaching staff and management are prepared to use it and I hope the Flames will. Unfortunately I am not sure they will; with 8 established NHL forwards and 4 emerging forwards it might be tempting to play the 12 vets and have 1 prospect up.If you go with the more traditional line up of 2 offensive lines a checking line and an energy line it could look like this:


    This is not the line up I would prefer but very easily could be the veteran line up the team ices. For the waiver exemption to work management must be prepared to send Monahan down if he struggles for an extended period of time.They also need to be prepared to lose vets sending them down or by trading them, Ideally they need to have 2-4 prospects(there are at least 6 who need to be looked at) who are exempt up with big club playing at the same time and if they struggle rewards those in the AHL who are playing well.