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.
HOW WAIVERS WORK
From the CBA:
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.
SUM IT UP
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.