How likely is it that the Calgary Flames lose a blueliner to waivers?

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Friends, one thing we’ve been discussing around these parts is how many defencemen the Calgary Flames have on one-way deals. The Flames have 10 blueliners on one-way deals, and every single one of them would require waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers.
Before training camp opens and we get all riled up about losing players to waivers, how likely is it that the Flames have a defender claimed by another team?

The 10 defenders on one-ways

Here are the 10 defenders the Flames have signed to one-way deals, along with their cap hits (via PuckPedia):
  • Noah Hanifin – $4.95 million
  • Rasmus Andersson – $4.55 million
  • Chris Tanev – $4.5 million
  • Nikita Zadorov – $3.75 million
  • MacKenzie Weegar – $3.25 million
  • Oliver Kylington – $2.5 million
  • Juuso Valimaki – $1.55 million
  • Nicolas Meloche – $950,000
  • Connor Mackey – $912,500
  • Dennis Gilbert – $762,500
Obviously, the first six guys won’t be thrown onto waivers because they’re virtual locks for the team. But what about the other four guys?

Who got claimed last year?

If you have a short memory, here’s roughly what happens before the season begins. We affectionately call it “the pre-season waiver dump.” Two or three days before the regular season roster deadline – last year’s was Oct. 11, this year’s is Oct. 10 – every team puts their anticipated final cuts onto waivers.
The idea is this: everybody’s down to their final roster spots, so nobody has spots left to give to anybody enticing that lands on the waiver wire – a team claiming a player has to keep them on their NHL roster (unless they’re the only team putting in a claim) so the only way they can keep a waiver claim on their roster on short notice is by jettisoning a waiver-exempt player before the roster deadline. So every team has an incentive to hold onto their waiver eligible cuts until the very last minute.
Here’s who got claimed last year in October:
  • Buffalo calimed LW Alex Jonsson-Fjallby from Washington (Oct. 4), but he was claimed back by Washington a week later (Oct. 11).
  • San Jose claimed LW Jonah Gadjovich from Vancouver (Oct. 7).
  • Seattle claimed RW Alex Barre-Boulet from Tampa Bay (Oct. 11), but he was claimed back by Tampa Bay a couple weeks later (Oct. 22)
  • Montreal claimed C Adam Brooks from Toronto (Oct. 11), but he kept bouncing around like a bad penny – claimed by Vegas on Nov. 17, then Toronto on Feb. 16, then Winnipeg on Feb. 18.
  • Philadelphia claimed C Patrick Brown from Vegas (Oct. 11).
  • Philadelphia claimed C Zach McEwen from Vancouver (Oct. 14).
  • Washington claimed D Dennis Cholowski from Seattle (Oct. 14), was subsequently claimed back by Seattle (Feb.9).
  • Buffalo claimed D Christian Wolanin from Los Angeles (Oct. 16), was subsequently claimed back by Los Angeles (Dec. 1).
In the entire NHL, three players were claimed by other teams that they stayed with for the rest of the season, while everybody else cleared waivers and went to the minors, were re-claimed by their original team, or bounced around all season (Adam Brooks).
And note this: just two defenders were claimed on waivers, both of which were eventually reclaimed by their original clubs.

Who could claim Flames blueliners?

Let’s operate under the assumption that the Flames decide to waive Valimaki, Meloche, Mackey and Gilbert so they can maximize cap space this season. Which teams (a) have cap space to claim any of them and (b) would think that any of these players are an upgrade over the blueliners that they already have?
A lot of teams would have the cap space, but it would take a really good training camp from one of those four players to convince teams to give them a spot over somebody they already have within their own organization.
In other words: a lot of teams will be playing their own wacky waivers games at the end of training camp. A lot of teams will be trying to sneak blueliners through the waiver wire. Traditionally, that approach has worked, and so don’t expect the Flames to necessarily lose somebody to another team on the waiver wire – that is, unless one of the players being waived had a spectacular training camp.

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