The waiver wire is something that’s both simple and oddly complicated to understand.
The gist of the waiver wire is this: after a certain number of years (or games), every played has to be offered up to every other team before being put in the AHL. It prevents NHL teams from stockpiling. But it can also cause some odd transactional wrinkles, as evidenced this season when Drew Shore became waiver eligible mid-season due to playing 70 NHL games.
For the curious, here’s a brief waiver wire primer.
Waiver rules come from Section 13 of the CBA:
“Age” is defined rather flatly:
For purposes of this Article, “age 18” means a Player reaching his eighteenth birthday between January 1 next preceding the Entry Draft and September 15 next following the Entry Draft, both dates included; “age 19” means a Player reaching his nineteenth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; “age 20” means a Player reaching his twentieth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; and “age 21” means a Player reaching his twenty-first birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft.
In practice, this seems to mean that it’s the age you are the season your first contract begins to run, or the age you turn before the year is out. For instance, Sean Monahan signed his deal when he was 18, but he turned 19 in October during the first season. For CBA purposes, it seems that he was 19 when his deal began because of that birthday. Sam Bennett began his deal when he was 18, so he gets a five-season exemption from waivers, which would be dropped to three if he plays 11 games.
If you’re 20+, the clock starts ticking the day you play any games on your deal (NHL or otherwise). If you’re younger, it depends on more things but generally runs from the season after you sign. (In Turner Elson’s case, his deal began to run when he was 20 but he was in the WHL as an overager and played zero pro games, so technically he gets an additional year of exemption. I think.) These wrinkles are why waiver rules are bizarre and frustrating, at times.
In practice, generally a player’s waiver exemption lasts as long as his entry-level deal, but not always. And I cannot emphasize this enough: one-way and two-way contracts have literally nothing to do with waivers. At all.
Here’s a table with the players that began this season as waiver-exempt. (A plus next to games played means they’re in the NHL right now.)
Waiver exemption ends as soon as you’ve completed the specified number of playing seasons (college players starting pro careers early knocks off a year) OR complete the specific number of games. So, for instance, once Gaudreau hits 80 games played, he’s waiver eligible – just like Drew Shore was after his 70th game.
Generally-speaking, the junior kids who signed NHL deals already (Klimchuk, Bennett and Kanzig) get three seasons and/or 160 games beginning the year they turn pro. Since none are pros, all maintain that exemption. (The formula in the CBA is fancier than that, but that’s what it boils down to.)
Waiver eligible next season?
- Ferland (fourth year pro)
- Gaudreau (exceeding games cap)
- Hanowski (fourth year pro)
- Jooris (exceeding games cap)
- Monahan (exceeding games cap)
- Ortio (fourth year pro)
- Reinhart (fourth year pro)
- Wolf (second year pro)
The Flames have some decisions to make next season, it seems.