Everybody loves the idea of getting something for nothing,
and the NHL equivalent is the waiver wire. Friday marks the first time in the
2016-17 season that we’ve seen substantial activity, and while it’s unlikely
that we’ll see a claim – most teams are busy figuring out how to deal with
their own waiver issues – there are a few names worth highlighting.
LW Chris Bourque. Bourque,
a 5’8” scoring forward, last saw the NHL with Boston in 2012-13. He has 51
career major-league games and seems to have been pigeon-holed as an AHL’er. He’s
an awfully good one, though; last season he put up 80 points in 72 games in the
minors. He’s probably the best one of several undersized forwards (Andy Miele,
Chris Conner) on the wire today.
LD T.J. Brennan. Brennan
is a legend of sorts, and insanely prolific AHL defenceman who can’t seem to
crack an NHL roster. Over the last two seasons, he’s scored 84 points in 88
games for the Toronto Marlies, posting a plus-39 rating over that span. He’s
played 13 games for the Maple Leafs, with two points and a minus-13 rating over
the same period. Few players would benefit more if NHL coaches suddenly decided
to run 11 forwards/seven defencemen, with the seventh blue line slot reserved
for a specialist.
LD Chris Butler. Butler
has played nearly 400 games over a career that has seen him spend time in
Buffalo, Calgary and St. Louis. Just five of those games came last season, and
he turns 30 in October. These kinds of depth players fall out of the league at
this age all the time.
RW Jordan Caron. It
feels necessary to mention Caron. After all, he’s reasonably young (25), was a
first-round pick of Boston in 2009, and has 157 NHL games under his belt. The 6’3”
winger is trending downward, though, with just a single goal in his last 72 NHL
regular season games and no points in his last 35.
RD Morgan Ellis. Ellis
went from the ECHL in 2014-15 to the NHL last season, sneaking into three games
with Montreal. He has good size (6’1”, 207 pounds) and scored 16 goals in the
minors last season. He has a 100 mph slap shot and earned
good reviews for his work in the AHL in 2015-16.
C Alex Friesen. An
undersized two-way forward with a reputation for winning faceoffs, killing
penalties and the like, Friesen is now 25 years old. He got into his first NHL
game with Vancouver last year, and while he’s not much of a scorer (31 points
in 65 AHL games in 2015-16) he may not need to be to enjoy a career.
RD Petter Granberg. Granberg
just turned 24, plays right defence and found his way into 27 NHL games with
the Predators last year. He mostly played with Mattias Ekholm, with the duo
posting a 46% Corsi rating as a pair. Ekholm managed a 55% Corsi rating away
LD Brad Hunt. Unlike
Brennan, Hunt is undersized (5’9”, 187 pounds) for his position, but otherwise
it’s easy to see a common thread. He’s spent the last three seasons with the
Oilers organization. In the AHL, he’s put up 142 points in just 185 games,
going plus-six; in the NHL he has three points in 21 contests and a minus-11 rating.
LD Matt Irwin. Irwin,
a veteran of 155 NHL games with the San Jose Sharks organization, fell out of
the NHL last year after (literally) two bad games with Boston. He’s 6’1”, 210
pounds, mobile, capable with the puck and only 28 years old. On the other hand,
as with Butler above, he wouldn’t be the first depth player to drop out of the
league at this age.
We’re still some distance away from the *really* interesting
waiver wire names, but this is the point in the fall where some teams start
sneaking down guys they want available as a call-up options over the course of
the year. It’s a good strategy, since most teams simply have no room to make a
claim at this point in camp, but it wouldn’t be a shock if some of the players
mentioned above found their way into the NHL this year.
Check out Renaud Lavoie’s feed for the full list of players waived today.