Predators rumored to claim Ersberg; but how do waivers work?

Amid this afternoon's rumors that the Nashville Predators have made a waiver claim on Los Angeles Kings goalie Erik Ersberg, we thought it'd be a good opportunity to give you a refresher course on how waivers work. First, though, a quick rundown of the speculation and events: 

  • Kevin Allen, USA Today's preeminent hockey writer, tweeted the following at 11:37 AM CST: "Among the interesting players on waivers; Mattias Ritola (Detroit) and Erik Ersberg (Los Angeles). Will Nashville bite on Ersberg as backup?"
  • This was followed by TSN's Bob McKenzie, who at 12:41 said: "There are apparently reports in the blogosphere that NAS has put in a claim on Ersberg. Will find out at noon tomorrow if Preds get him." and shortly after "That is, of course, if the Preds have put in a claim for certain. Sounds logical but reports are out of L.A."
  • Finally, beat writer Josh Cooper of the Tennessean passed this word along moments ago: "Trotz says Nashville has "no interest" in Ersberg." Well, then. 

It appears that what we have here is a combination of semi-informed speculation from reputable journalists, and rumor-mongering from overzealous, hockey-deprived fans. The rumors make some sense, but you almost never hear of waiver claims being leaked merely 3 hours after the player was waived. Additionally, I don't see why David Poile would acquire a veteran just days after Anders Lindback was given the proverbial vote of confidence. 

We'll certainly keep you updated should something official come across the wire (that'd be tomorrow), but until then, follow after the jump for an explanation of how this would work.

Waivers: How They Work

For this exercise, we'll use part of this handy guide provided by SB Nation's Maple Leafs blog, Pension Plan Puppets:

When a team wishes to send a player down to their AHL affiliate, and the player is not waiver exempt,... the player must first clear waivers. 

When a player is placed on waivers, all 29 other clubs now have an opportunity to submit a claim on that player. The player doesn't officially go on waivers until 12:00 pm EST.

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A player remains on waivers for 24 hours from the point the waiver transaction is confirmed by the NHL (48 hours if confirmed on a Saturday or a Sunday). If one team has submitted a claim during that period, the player's contract is purchased by that team as of the end of the waiver period. If multiple teams have claimed the player, the team with the highest priority (explained later) gets the player. If nobody claims the player, the player has cleared waivers and the team is free to assign the player to their AHL affiliate. 

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Compensation

A team who makes a successful claim for a player on waivers must compensate the team giving up the player for purchasing the player's contract. The prices are set out in Article 13.16 (a) of the CBA, and are based on years of service and position. Basically they range from $3,375 US (any player with more than 9 years experience) to $90,000 (a goaltender with 2 years experience).

Waiver Priority

If more than one team puts in a claim on a player during the waiver period, then the team with the higher waiver priority's claim is accepted.

If the claim is before November 1, waiver priority is based on the previous year's standings, with the team with the worst record having first priority and the team with the best record having last priority.

 

Translation

As you can see, Nashville could put in a claim on Ersberg - but they'd have to cede priority to the teams in front of them based on last year's standings. Should Ersberg go unclaimed by 17 teams, Nashville would at that point be the 'victors' and have to compensate Los Angeles a certain amount of money.

If no one claims him at all, Ersberg will report to Los Angeles' AHL affiliate, which is unfortunate. He's an NHL quality netminder without an NHL job at that point. 

Anyway, there you have it. In summation, don't expect Nashville to pick up another goalie in the coming days, but now we know how this would work were it to come via waivers.

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