Friday, July 31, 2009

Canadiens Waiver Confusion

I'm not sure if the confusion was all mine, but I took some time to look into the Canadiens waiver exemptions for the upcoming season as a remedy.

I thought I'd share on another slow news day.

You'll remember that post I wrote about Latendresse the other day. I wrote it to point out that it was make or break time for the guy. What I probably didn't fully consider was that his situation may be more critical than I originally thought.

The reason is simple. The current Canadiens roster is stacked with veteran (and young) players who do not carry a waiver wire exemption. I didn't quite understand how this could be, but with a bit of a rummage around, I think I do now.

1) Waiver eligibility has nothing to do with age really – it has much more to do with experience and being paid at the pro level

2) Unlike the old NHL, waiver status under the 2005 CBA is determined by professional games, not just NHL games. That means players who've played 160 games for Hamilton, Cincinnati, Montreal or some combination are all exposed to other teams on demotion during the season.

The question is particularly pertinent when it comes to Latendresse and his rivals. Now, I assumed (and rightly so) that Pacioretty and Sergei Kostitsyn were waiver exempt. They both come under the cap for games and years since their first pro contract. Matt D'Agostini and Kyle Chipchura, however, who I thought were in the same boat are not at all. Because of their prolonged attachment to the Bulldogs both have easily amassed more than 160 professional games and are full-fledged NHL bait now. And, when you do some Kostitsyn math (and I could be wrong) one comes to the conclusion that he has one game of exemption left – so he's not really at all. This impacts on Latendresse (and others, but I have a fixation) because I thought he would benefit from being one of a few who could not be shunted to Hamilton. He's one of many. You can imagine that Glen Metropolit might also be thinking about trying to put in a big training camp if he'd like to stay with the Habs.

Here is a somewhat complete list of the Canadiens players as they fall into the waiver eligible or exempt pots:

Waiver eligible
Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse, Maxime Lapierre, Georges Laraque, Glen Metropolit, Travis Moen, Greg Stewart, Matt D'Agostini, Kyle Chipchura, Andrei Markov, Roman Hamrlik, Jaroslav Spacek, Josh Gorges, Hal Gill, Paul Mara, Ryan O'Byrne

Waiver exempt (and for how long):
Sergei Kostitsyn (until 2010-11 or 1st game this year), Max Pacioretty (until 2011-12 or 89th game this year), Yannick Weber (until 2012-13 or 84th game this year), Ben Maxwell (until 2011-12 or 74th game this year), Mathieu Carle (until 2012-13 or 31st game this year), Subban (undetermined length as of today)

The interesting finding was initially D'Agostini, but certainly Kostitsyn (if I'm not off base) is a big deal. Either one of those players could be a legitimate waiver target for other GMs, so Gainey will be wary. It should also say something to Paccioretty backers – as the only NHL trialled forward who can commute, you shouldn't be too hopeful of his guaranteed place on a top line.

The final group of interest here to me are the Swedes. Because of their newness to the league, they carry with them the exemption. What looked like a couple of experimental pick-ups in Johansson and Engqvist might turn out to be very valuable filler if short-term injuries occur. Marks to Gainey on that front.

Maybe now that I understand this a bit better, I'll stop calling for Shawn Belle to be promoted and risking waivers. Then again, maybe not...

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