A.J. Greer is one of the Calgary Flames’ best waiver claims in recent memory

Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
The waiver wire is a really underrated way for National Hockey League clubs to supplement their existing rosters. Yeah, at times it’s a bit of a scrap heap, but occasionally some pretty effective players can be found.
Shane’s Beyond the Boxscore looking at the New Jersey game threw some praise at A.J. Greer, a waiver claim by the Calgary Flames back in October. So it got me thinking: if Greer’s not the best waiver claim the Flames have made recently, who is?
Greer has been a fixture on the Flames’ fourth line for basically the entire 2023-24 season. He’s scored some key goals at key times. He’s fast. He throws hits. He’s fought twice. He’s on pace for a career year offensively.
For his role and his cost – $762,500 – he’s been really effective.
Now, let’s compare Greer to the other Flames’ waiver claims in the Lockout Era (e.g., since 2005).

Lawrence Nycholat

A left shot defenceman originally from Calgary – he was a Crowchild minor hockey kid – Nycholat had bounced around minor pro and spent stints in the NY Rangers, Washington and Ottawa organizations by 2008-09. He split time that season between the Canucks and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
He was claimed by the Flames off waivers on Mar. 3, 2009, which was kinda fun because here’s a Calgary kid that got claimed by Calgary. He’ll get a chance to play for his hometown team! Actually no, he was traded the very next day to Colorado – along with Ryan Wilson and a second-round pick – in exchange for Jordan Leopold.

Nigel Dawes

Okay, this one’s kind of weird. So Dawes was a restricted free agent of the Phoenix Coyotes, and they put him on waivers prior to an arbitration case. (This is pretty standard, as teams try to undercut the player’s arbitration case by arguing that nobody wanted them for no acquisition cost.) The Flames claimed him, inherited the arbitration case, and then the Flames signed him to a two-year deal before the hearing.
Dawes played the 2009-10 season with the Flames, had 14 goals and 32 points in 66 games, and then was bought out following the season.

Brendan Mikkelson

The younger brother of current Sportsnet colour commentator (and multi-time Olympic medallist) Meaghan Mikkelson, Brendan was claimed by the Flames from Anaheim on Oct. 19, 2010 after starting the season with the Ducks.
He later cleared waivers and split the 2010-11 season between the Flames and Abbotsford. He was re-signed and spent most of 2011-12 with the Heat before being traded to Tampa Bay in January 2012 for Blair Jones.

Brett Carson

A big, right-shot defender, Carson was claimed by the Flames from Carolina on Feb. 28, 2011, representing a bit of a homecoming from this Regina product that played three and a half seasons of junior with the Hitmen.
Carson ended up re-upping with the Flames as an RFA, but ultimately bounced between the Flames and Heat before leaving the organization as a free agent after the 2012-13 season. He played 18 games and registered one assist.

Blake Comeau

Comeau was claimed from the New York Islanders on Nov. 25, 2011, after beginning the 2011-12 season with zero points in 16 games for the Isles. He had 15 points in 58 games for the Flames, then re-signed and had seven points in 33 games for the Flames the following season.
Comeau was a perfectly acceptable depth forward for the Flames. He was traded to Columbus prior to the 2013 trade deadline in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice.

Joey MacDonald

MacDonald joined the Flames in February 2013 after being claimed from Detroit. The Flames’ goaltending was a bit of a shambles at the time and they needed some stability. While MacDonald didn’t set the world ablaze in net, he was reliable enough during the 2012-13 campaign.
He was given the chance to start 2013-14 as the club’s de facto starter, and things just didn’t click for him or the team. He was waived early in the season and played out the year in Abbotsford.

David Schlemko

Captain Mark Giordano tore his bicep on a road trip immediately before the 2015 trade deadline. In an effort to find a low-cost replacement, the Flames claimed Schlemko from Dallas on Mar. 1, 2015. He had zero points in 19 games, but he scored a nice shootout winner and the Flames ended up eking into the playoffs – in part because of that shootout move.

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He left the club as a free agent following the season.

Chris Stewart

A big, physical forward, Stewart was claimed on waivers from Minnesota on Feb. 26, 2018, just prior to the 2018 trade deadline. The Flames weren’t completely out of the playoff pack, but they were on the outside looking in and Stewart was a low-cost gamble.
He had three points in seven games, then left as a free agent.

Radim Zohorna

Zohorna was arguably the 2022-23 version of Greer: a waiver claim immediately before the season began from a team in the Eastern Conference. (Zohorna was claimed from Pittsburgh on Oct. 3, 2022.) Zohorna played in eight games for the Flames, didn’t really stand out, and was sent to the Wranglers in the AHL.
He was ultimately traded to Toronto at the 2023 trade deadline in exchange for Dryden Hunt.

Sum it up

Greer’s been a really great find for the Flames, especially with the low acquisition cost. When you compare him to other recent Flames waiver claims, he holds up well. In terms of overall impact, you can argue that Dawes was a more versatile piece for the Flames than Greer has been. Comeau’s tenure also holds up fairly well to scrutiny, but he isn’t definitely more high-impact than Greer.
So if you want to be extremely nitpicky about waiver claims, Greer is probably the second or third best waiver claim the Flames have had since 2005. He’s a fourth-line piece, but he’s given the Flames energy, poise and stability in that role.

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