A Brief Look At Waivers

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:

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 11.37.50 PM

“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.)

Years NHL
Agostino 22 3 70 2 8
Arnold 22 3 70 2 1
Culkin 21 3 80 1 0
Elson 20 3 160 2* 0
Ferland 20 3 160 3 15+
Gaudreau 21 3 80 2 66+
Granlund 20 3 160 2 44
Hanowski 22 3 70 3 16
Jooris 23 3 60 2 49+
Kulak 20 3 160 1 0
Monahan 19 3 160 2 141+
Ortio 20 4 80 4 14
Poirier 20 3 160 1 5+
Ramage 22 3 70 2 0
Reinhart 20 3 160 3 23
Shore 22 3 70 3 72+
Sieloff 19 3 160 1 0
Van Brabant 22 3 70 2 6
Wolf 25 1 n/a 1 2
Wotherspoon 20 3 160 2 14

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.

      • I believe Ortio or any player that is waiver eligible has to go through waivers regardless of one way or two way contract. I think the flames gave him the one way for next season knowing that he would be waiver eligible making him less likely to be picked up.

      • Correct, but often it makes sense to negotiate a contract that accords with where the guy is going to play. If the Flames didn’t have an option to send Ortio down to the minors, they might as well not sign him to a two-way deal.

    • Very helpful article Ryan. Thanks.

      I am a huge supporter of Wolf and legitimately believes he should be on the Flames fourth line next season, but who does he replace if he’s waiver eligible? Byron, maybe? I doubt Bollig goes anywhere.

      • I have nothing against Wolf but I see the potential for the Flames to play four NHL hockey lines next year. Here’s my 14 forwards: Monahan, Johnny, Hudler, Bennett, Backs. Jooris, Bouma, Jones, Colborne, Poirier, Ferlund, Granlund. Stajan and Shore.

        • RCN

          When a team is rebuilding and wants too improve and they are loaded with young forward prospects…they need to make room….I would take Jones, Granlund, Colborne and perhaps Backs off your list..quality defensive depth needs to be brought in and Granlund, possibly Backlund could be the price to pay….Flames cannot expect quality defensive players be obtained without quality forwards being the price to pay…

      • DoubleDIon

        Bollig would probably clear waivers, Wolf probably wouldn’t.

        Anyways I think it’s time to trade Hanowski, Agostino and Reinhart to a team that has a use for them on their farm (Buffalo?), and then move some other veterans to make room for 24-25 year olds. I wouldn’t be bothered if next season Stajan and Hudler are the only vet forwards on the roster, as we’ll have got a lot of mature players in the 21-26 age range.

    • Thanks Ryan. So safe to assume Ferland, Wolf & Ortio will all likely be in CGY next yr barring poor training camps.I wouldn’t doubt Max gets dealt before camp (I’ll guess BUF).

    • Thanks for this, could you do this article annually as it is helpful to us armchair GMs.

      My take: Jooris, gaudreau and Monahan are on the team obviously

      Shore and Ortio will be guaranteed a space out of camp.

      One of Ferland of Wolf will take Bollig’s place. The other will test waivers.
      Hanowski is down to the A. Reinhart is traded.

    • I think its clear Bollig will be gone (to ARI for a 4th?).

      Ferland and/or Wolf will take Bollig’s spot, tho I suspect both will be here as I don’t think Flames will want to expose either guy.

      Emile Poirer’s chances of starting the yr in CGY are lower after this article than before imo; likely only 1 spot for him or Bennett, and Bennett’s a lock to play 9 (and probably closer to 82).

      Poirer’s waiver status likely works against him meaning he’ll start the yr in Stockton, while Ferland & Wolf’s waiver status likely works in their favour meaning they’ll start in CGY. They’ll probably start as the 12/13 F’s.

    • prendrefeu

      I think Poirier needs some more time in the AHL to bring up his game a bit. He exceeds down at that level, but for some reason his shine dulls a bit when he’s playing NHL ice time. It may be a wait and see with him, the off-season and training camp will give the best answer for his future apparently.

    • RexLibris

      The one-way/two-way deal detail only impacts waivers as it pertains to the amount of money a player receives when they are in the NHL/AHL respectively.

      eg: Player A signed a one-way deal for an annual cap hit of $750,000.

      Player B signed a two-way deal for an annual cap hit of $750,000 in the NHL, but will receive only $85,000 for games played in the AHL.

      Teams could sign players to inflated one-way deals if they are concerned about exposing them to waivers as the cost may “scare” some teams off making a claim.

      There is no actual evidence that teams take this into account as the cap hits on most of these players is typically below $2 million, but enough GMs do it every year that it seems to be a strategy they employ.

      In the Flames’ case, if they felt that Josh Jooris might need more time to develop but were afraid of exposing him to the waiver wire they could sign him to an inflated one-way contract of $1.5 million with the idea being that they can easily afford to absorb that cost next season where other teams may not.

    • Burnward

      Next season, barring new players, personally I would construct the team as:






      Trade Raymond and Bollig.

      Defence and Goaltending will look different but will consist of:





      Hiller or Ramo


    • Burnward

      SO many things to be excited about. Playing for playoffs right now, but also seeing Bennett do so well in Kingston and anticipating him on the Flames next year.

      • piscera.infada

        I’ve watched him quite a few times. Live, on TV, and streaming (when I can). I’m under no illusions that the kid is a top-line player, but I really like his all around game–it’s something that you rarely see in junior. I know he’s an older player in the league and I know he’s no particularly “elite” in any one area, but he really strikes me as the kind of player that will be very good in a middle-six role. He the kind of guy that you win with. I’m really pulling for that particular player.

        It’s great to hear about Bennett excelling. I was kind of worried it would take him some time to adjust and everyone would be freaking out about it. Good on him.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Looks like Jooris has 11 games left, and Granlund has lots more. If the Fames think JoJoo needs AHL time, they could send him down after 11 games, bring Granny up. Either guy could start in Stockton next year that way.

      Having said that, I think JoJoo is NHL ready now, so keep him here.

    • PrairieStew

      Agree with the sentiment that Bollig is replaceable. I would consider selling high on Joe Colborne. Maybe someone sees him on their power play. I also think that, as good as he has been, Josh Jooris might not really have a place here. If Bennett and Backlund are #2 and #3 centres, and with Granlund and Arnold knocking on the door; could we package Joe and Josh up for a young defender ? Resign Ramo and put Ortio in that package for an elite one ?

      • piscera.infada

        Agree with Colborne, but I feel Jooris stays here as a winger. He’s got enough of a game to play anywhere in the bottom-6 and even slot in on a second line for temporary relief.

        • PrairieStew

          Perhaps. I guess it depends on who is available and what the other team needs are as to who you might move in the offseason.

          I see the Flames current strength at young forward, who is coming and try to put together a package that might land either a defenseman or potentially a higher skilled younger prospect. Both Colborne and Jooris are relatively cheap, young enough to be valuable and have qualities that make them marketable (size and tenacity respectively). What they bring can likely be replaced pretty seamlessly from current assets. Jooris might be ahead of Bennett, Granlund and Arnold as a centre now, but will he be next year? As a winger he is ahead of Poirier, Ferland and Elson now – but for how much longer ?

          • Matty Franchise Jr

            I see JoJoo as a good guy to have around in case Benny needs some sheltering by playing wing. JoJoo and Benny can switch to C or W as needed. Colborne is not good enough at C to help with this.

            • piscera.infada

              I want to go on record as saying I completely disagree with this sentiment. The Flames need to do whatever they can to keep Bennett at center (barring some draft weirdness, like they get McDavid or something, and maybe even then).

              Monahan played center for his entire rookie season. Even Backlund spent all of one game on LW in the NHL (maybe two; I don’t remember what position he played in that first game back in 2009).

          • piscera.infada

            Personally, if I’m in that “young defender” market. Granlund is the guy I’m moving over Jooris. Doesn’t mean I don’t like him as a player, but I think between him and Jooris, Granlund probably has the higher trade value (draft pedigree, name recognition, better junior stats), and I just see Jooris’ game translating to more roles than Granlund does.

            That’s not to say that if a team approached me about a Jooris trade, I wouldn’t pull the trigger. I’m just unsure as to how high his value is an a trade, and I also would be skeptical about moving on from him given his meteoric rise in just over a year. I get selling high, but Jooris makes more sense on the bottom-six wing than Granlund does to me.

            The other nice thing about Jooris? Right-hand shot.