“You come at the King, You best not miss” - Omar
I have seen a lot of confusion on twitter regarding why certain players did not make the big squad despite having seemingly better preseason campaigns than those still with the team.
The simple answer is: Waivers.
The more detailed explanation is: Bob Murray got burned last season when he lost Stefan Noesen and Joseph Cramarossa to waivers. That is not to mention Chris Wagner in the previous year, who he luckily managed to get back. But I think the whole experience has, rightfully so, made him a little gun-shy when it comes to the wire and asset management.
What are waivers you ask?
Waivers is a National Hockey League (NHL) labor management procedure by which an NHL team makes a professional ice hockey player's contract and rights available to all other NHL teams. Other NHL teams "waive" any claim to a player designated for assignment in the American Hockey League (AHL) or designated for release. The process is typically referred to as "being placed on waivers."
Once an NHL player has played in a certain number of games or a set number of seasons has passed since the signing of his first NHL contract (see here), that player must be offered to all of the other NHL teams before he can be assigned to a minor league affiliate.
The claims process starts at noon Eastern Time and ends 24 hours later.
When a player clears waivers and is sent down and then is called up again, he does not have to clear waivers to be sent down again unless he has played ten games or has been "up" for 30 days.
Essentially if a team wishes to assign a player to their AHL affiliate, in the interests of fairness and parity; they have to then make that player available to the league for 24 hours.
But not all players have to go through waivers. As stated above, depending on a players number of games played in the NHL and years since first contract signing - he either is or is not waiver exempt.
So which players do the brass need to keep an eye on?
Nick Ritchie: Surprised? Yeah, me too. Again, it’s hard to wrap your head around just how young Ritchie is. He signed his entry level deal when he was 18 and played his first NHL season when he was 19 so he is exempt until he turns 23 or he gets to 160 games. According to Cap Friendly he has 35 games left of exemption status.
Brandon Montour: The “Night Hawk” is in his last year of exemption status but also only has 36 games remaining to be waiver eligible. Unlikely he goes back this year but it should be noted that he is in the last year of his entry level deal and could hold out next season.
Kevin Boyle: This is Boyle’s last year of exemption status which leads to a very unclear future for the netminder. He should ultimately challenge and become the number one for the Gulls, but after this season the Ducks could only recall and return him without waiver risk on emergency recall only, whereas Angus Redmond has 4 more years of status. Given that he is on a one year deal, he probably either goes elsewhere next season or signs with the Gulls on an AHL deal.
Players that are good for a year or two:
Ondrej Kase: This is Kase’s last year of exemption status according to Cap Friendly - based on his play in the opening game of the season; in the words of Blink 182 - he can’t go back to San Diego.
Giovanni Fiore: ‘When you sign your first ELC at the age of 21 and you play your first NHL game in the same year that’s 80 games of Fiore’. Unlikely Gio gets 80 games this year so he is good for at least a year or 3 more years if he doesn’t hit the maximum number of games in that time.
Kalle Kossila, Andy Welinski & Kevin Roy: The college kids all have exemption status until the beginning of the 2019-20 season. Or until they hit 60 games. Only Kossila has tasted NHL action, so over the next two seasons it is possible either of the three could build up the experience. For now they are good for at least a season or two.
Marcus Pettersson: The guy whose demotion inspired the outrage and confusion which lead to this article. Pettersson has until 2019-20 or 160 games.
Jacob Larsson: Larsson has exemption until 2020-21 or 156 games left
Mitch Hults: Has until 2020-21 or 60 games because he signed at 22.
Keaton Thompson: Has until 2019-20 or 80 games. It’s unlikely he makes the 80 games, so probably 2 more seasons with the Gulls.
Alex Dostie, Julius Nattinen & Deven Sideroff: The kids coming fresh out of junior have until 2020-21 or 160 games which is more than ample time to develop.
You get the idea. It will be the same for Steel, Jones, and Mahura when they go pro next year. Terry, if he decides to play his senior year, will likely be 22 when he signs giving him 3 years or just 70 NHL games.
Players that signed more than 2 years ago have had their exemption status expire. Meaning that even if they have not played in any or many NHL games, they are still susceptible to waiver claim.
Non-Waiver Exempt Players:
Jaycob Megna: Megna signed his ELC when he was 21 and he is now 24, so his 3 years are up. This is likely the main reason why Petterson and Larsson did not make the big squad whilst the spare spot went to Megna. Not discounting the fact Megna possibly earned the spot, but risk management wise, it makes sense to keep him up rather than lose him for nothing, while at the same time giving Larsson and Petterson better minutes with the Gulls.
Nic Kerdiles: Kerdiles signed his ELC when he was 20 and he is now 23. Thus, like Megna, he is now non-exempt. The Ducks already managed to sneak him through waivers with one of the initial cuts so technically he could be called up for a further 10 more games before needing to go through waivers again.
It goes without saying that journeymen Corey Tropp, Sam Carrick and Scott Sabourin are non-waiver exempt also.