As the competition for Nashville Predators roster spots ramps up this week, after a cut-down to 33 players took place over the weekend, one factor which can come into play is the waiver status of various players. For younger, less experienced members of the organization, the Preds can easily send them to the AHL for further seasoning, while those with the requisite amount of age & experience would have to be exposed to waivers on the way down, allowing any team in the NHL to potentially claim them.
So which players in camp are eligible for waivers, and which aren't? Follow after the jump for all the details...
1-Way vs. 2-Way Contracts
First off, let's get the issue of 1-way vs. 2-way contracts out of the way, as this tends to confuse a lot of people. The distinction between 1-way or 2-way contracts has nothing to do with whether a player needs to go through waivers on the way to or from the AHL. A 1-way contract simply means that a player makes the same salary whether he's in the NHL or AHL, while a 2-way deal means he has separate salaries based on where he's playing. This season, examples of such contracts are Matt Halischuk, Cal O`Reilly and Nick Spaling (all on 1-way deals), as opposed to Blake Geoffrion, Jack Hillen, and Tyler Sloan (all on 2-way contracts).
Typically, 2-way contracts are for young players who haven't proven themselves to be NHL regulars yet, so many players on 2-way deals are easily sent back and forth, but older veterans who may not be a lock for the NHL roster may also get them as well.
Waivers apply to players based on their age and experience in the NHL and AHL (European league experience doesn't count). The intent is that once you have enough pro experience, if your NHL team doesn't want you, then at least you deserve an opportunity to find major-league work elsewhere. The waiver period starts 12 days prior to the start of the regular season, which is why everyone watches the waiver wire close to the end of training camp, to see if a useful player becomes available.
So which players would require waivers in order to be sent to Milwaukee? The Preds provided me with this list:
2 Teemu Laakso
6 Shea Weber
8 Kevin Klein
10 Martin Erat
11 David Legwand
12 Mike Fisher
13 Nick Spaling
16 Cal O`Reilly
18 Niclas Bergfors
20 Ryan Suter
21 Zack Stortini
22 Jordin Tootoo
24 Matt Halischuk
25 Jerred Smithson
27 Patric Hornqvist
28 Kyle Wilson
38 Jack Hillen
51 Francis Bouillon
74 Sergei Kostitsyn
89 Tyler Sloan
35 Pekka Rinne
Which leaves the following guys remaining at Training Camp who are not eligible for waivers, and can easily be sent to the AHL:
Forwards: Gabriel Bourque, Blake Geoffrion, Chris Mueller, Craig Smith, Ryan Thang, and Colin Wilson.
Defense: Jonathon Blum, Mattias Ekholm*, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi.
Goaltenders: Anders Lindback and Jeremy Smith.
*Ekholm has an option to go back to the Swedish Elite League this season if he doesn't make the NHL roster.
What this means is that some of the young guys may have a little extra barrier to overcome in order to make the NHL squad straight out of camp, while for the waiver-eligible players, it's possible that if indeed there's no spot for them here in Nashville, it might make sense for David Poile to shop around for a minor trade possibility rather than risk losing them on waivers.
Keep in mind, however, that every team around the league is in the process of making similar cuts, so the number of guys who get claimed by other teams tends to be fairly small. However, one good example of such a trade taking place under similar circumstances happened last fall, when the Preds sent Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson to Vancouver for Shane O`Brien. The Canucks didn't have O'Brien fitting in on their blueline, and at least got something in exchange for letting him go.
And as we all know, that one worked out pretty well in Nashville's favor.
If a waiver-eligible player gets recalled from Milwaukee, there is a 30-day (or 10-game) window within which the Preds can send them back down without having to clear waivers again, so in the weeks ahead an older player could get recalled as a short-term injury replacement, it doesn't necessarily mean they're here for the long-term.