Since being recalled from the AHL in lieu of Micheal Ferland’s injury, Derek Grant has played nine games for the Calgary Flames. As of late, he’d found himself a home in the lineup as a steady fourth line centre who tended to get a scoring chance or so every game.
Ten is the magic number, though. Should Grant have played his 10th game, he would have been subject to waivers. And as he’d been in the midst of establishing himself as perhaps a good fourth line option, maybe a team would have claimed him.
Furthermore, as the Flames get healthier, they may need a roster spot ready for a player coming off the injured reserve. Grant is the easiest to send down, and so, down he goes – not an indictment of his play, but of his waivers status.
Since Grant was recalled, he was a healthy scratch for just three games, the most recent being a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. He has played the past six games in a row for the Flames, and while he failed to get on the scoreboard, it wasn’t ever for lack of trying.
While he did play extremely limited minutes – he only eclipsed the 10-minute mark in ice time three times over his nine-game call up – he was never a detriment to his team during them, instead being a good faceoff man who, well, played with a lot of heart and energy.
Basically: he was exactly what you want out of your fourth line players. As of late, he’s been a more consistent presence down there than some, including Brandon Bollig, Mason Raymond, and Josh Jooris, all of whom have been healthy scratches since Grant’s recall and Ferland’s return (Raymond hasn’t played since Nov. 7, where he got just over five minutes).
It’s a shame Grant wasn’t able to score his first NHL goal over his call up, as he was certainly buzzing, and you felt it would be inevitable.
Alas, he, like Joni Ortio, is a victim of the NHL’s waivers systems, one of the biggest impediments of “always earned, never given”. It’s tough to follow through on laws about intangibles when elements of real-life consequence – contracts, salaries, waivers – are there to check you. Even if you have outplayed some of your teammates, you’re the easiest to get rid of, so that’s how it goes. And after giving Paul Byron away for nothing in an earlier misguided move, why make that risk again?
The Flames now have 13 healthy forwards, with Lance Bouma the only one still on the injured reserve. That still leaves one extra forward, so they aren’t hurting at that position.
And with Jonas Hiller returning to main practice, it appears as though the Flames may be getting their third goalie back, so they’ll need Grant’s roster spot to make room for him when he’s activated off the injured reserve. After all, gotta carry 13 forwards, seven defencemen, and three goalies, right?
(While talking goalies, one final note: Jon Gillies may require surgery. This has been a fun season! And by “fun” I mean, well, not really.)