We’ve been waiting for a while for the good names to start showing up on the waiver wire. On Monday, it happened.
This article will be updated as more names get announced, so check back if you don’t see a player you expected to see here.
- LD Mattias Backman. The Stars have a pile of good defensive prospects, and the tall, lanky Bachman seems to have been lost in the rush. He had 32 points in 69 AHL games last season, skates well and plays a smart, positional game.
- LW Brandon Bollig. One of the last enforcers in the league, Bollig had four points and 103 penalty minutes in the NHL last season while carrying a $1.25 million cap hit. This kind of player is rapidly disappearing from the majors.
- LW Gabriel Bourque. A sparkplug player, Bourque plays an intense physical game and kills penalties despite a modest 5’10”, 206-pound frame. He’s averaged 26 points per 82 games over his NHL career and last season had a 51% Fenwick rating in a defensive zone specialty role.
- C Greg Campbell. Campbell is famous from his time with the Bruins, where he was sometimes regarded as the exemplar of what a fourth-line centre should be. He has average size but plays a gritty, responsible game and is a key anchor of the penalty kill. However, he turns 33 in December and hasn’t had strong possession numbers in some time.
- LD Fredrik Claesson. A competitive, if somewhat undersized (6′, 205 pounds) defenceman, Claesson played 16 games for the Senators last season. The 23-year-old plays a mature, polished, defensive game and is competent with the puck but has limited upside.
- LW Cory Conacher. Famously dealt to Ottawa in the Ben Bishop trade, Conacher is an extremely skilled but undersized winger. In the right circumstances he can score at the NHL level, but worked his way out of the league in 2014-15. He had 52 points in 48 games in Switzerland’s top league last season and is still only 26.
- G Mike Condon. Condon earned an NHL job with Montreal thanks to a very strong 2014-15 AHL season in which he posted a 0.921 save percentage for Hamilton. His NHL career started off reasonably well, but then he was tossed into the fire when Carey Price got hurt. He finished last season with a 21-25-3 record and 0.903 save percentage for the Habs.
- RW Erik Condra. Condra is a no-frills NHL player with a long history of strong underlying numbers and decent offensive totals in tough defensive roles. The 30-year-old has averaged 23 points per 82 games played in the majors, which is strong production for a fourth-liner. He’s also a strong penalty killer and a guy who can post a 50% Fenwick rating on a mediocre team while being part of a defensive zone specialty unit.
- LD Klas Dahlbeck. The 25-year-old, 6’3″ and 207-pound Dahlbeck played 71 games for Arizona last season. The kicker with Dahlbeck is that he’s also mobile, and while primarily a defensive defenceman at the major-league level he’s had decent offensive seasons (35 points in 75 AHL games in 2013-14) in other leagues. His possession numbers in a tough-minutes role with Zbynek Michalek last season weren’t good, but he might be a fit in a No. 6/7 role.
- LD Justin Falk. Falk has bounced between the majors and minors the last few years. The 6’5″, 224-pound defender played reasonably well over 24 games with the Blue Jackets last year, but 171 games into his NHL career he looks more like a ‘tweener than full-time player.
- RW Seth Griffith. A fifth-round pick of the Bruins back in 2012, Griffith had 77 points in just 57 AHL contests last season. He lacks ideal NHL size (5’9″, 192 pounds) but is just 23 years old. He played 30 NHL games in 2014-15 and had decidedly mediocre possession numbers.
- C Anton Lander. Lander is a gritty, responsible defensive forward who excels in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill. He’s 25 years old and has a long history of scoring in the AHL. The trouble is that outside of an excellent run in 2014-15 (38 games, 20 points), he has just 11 points in 156 NHL games.
- C Michael Latta. A physical, right-shooting centre, Latta plays a competent defensive game but has just 17 points in 113 career NHL contests. Now 25, he’s one of several potential No. 4/5 centres on the waiver wire today.
- LW Brandon Mashinter. Mashinter played 41 games for the ‘Hawks last season, scoring five points while posting a 43% Fenwick rating. He’s 6’4″ and 223 pounds but otherwise there isn’t much evidence to suggest he belongs in the NHL.
- C Mark McNeill. The 23-year-old McNeill checks a lot of boxes. He’s a 23-year-old right-shooting centre with an NHL frame (6’2″, 212 pounds). He’s known for a responsible two-way game, and the question at this point is if he’ll generate enough offence to make it in the majors. He had 48 points in 64 AHL games last year.
- RD Zbynek Michalek. Michalek, a veteran of 718 regular season games, has been a stats darling for a long time. He has no offensive dimension to speak of, but he has long played brutal minutes and managed to keep his team above water anyway. The bottom fell out last season and while a rebound is possible he also turns 34 in December and has a $3.2 million cap hit.
- RW Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. He scored 20 goals in the NHL last season and is on a one-year contract for barely more than $1.0 million. Kent Wilson went into detail on his numbers this morning and the fact is that on the ice this guy is a very capable middle-six NHL winger. How often can a team add a 20-goal scorer on a one-year bargain contract via waivers?
- G Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec is in the final season of a five-year deal and carries a $3.9 million cap hit and $4.75 million salary. He had a 0.920 save percentage as Winnipeg’s starter in 2014-15, but that’s the only time in the last five years that his save percentage came in north of 0.906. For more on the Jets’ other moves, check out Art Middleton’s full recap.
- RW Anthony Peluso. The big, physical Peluso has been a full-time NHL player for the last three seasons, without killing penalties and while only scoring a grand total of 12 points over that span. The league has moved away from this player-type.
- RW Teemu Pulkkinen. It is insane that this guy is on waivers. In 2014-15 he scored 34 goals in just 46 AHL games. He’s a right shooter, only 24 years old, and already has a floor as a 25-30 point NHL player. He’s only scratching the surface. This is a player who has serious goal-scoring potential in the majors, and even if he doesn’t realize it he’s a useful depth option.
- LD Rob Scuderi. Scuderi played more than 900 major-league games between the regular season and the playoffs, many of them as a top-four shutdown defenceman. He’s now 37 years old and past the point of his career where he can really help an NHL team.
- G Alex Stalock. Stalock’s NHL career was launched in 2013-14, when he posted a 0.932 save percentage over 24 games for San Jose, a number shockingly out of character given his minor-league totals. He’s since had 0.902 and 0.884 save percentage seasons in a backup role and has almost certainly played his way out of the league.
- LD Brian Strait. A full-time NHL’er with the Islanders for the last three seasons, Strait is the kind of low-impact, physical veteran that teams have long plugged into the No. 7 defensive role. At 28 years of age, it’s reasonable to assume that his ceiling is No. 7 defenceman.
- C Ben Street. As a rule, big-time AHL point-producers don’t turn into NHL forwards at the age of 29.
- G Scott Wedgewood. It’s been a long road for Wedgewood, but last season was a breakout campaign of sorts. He had a 0.933 save percentage over 22 games in the AHL, and then went 2-1-1 with a 0.957 save percentage during a four-game major-league call-up. He’s 24 years old, and might be worth a shot in a backup role for a team with insufficient internal options.
There are a lot of names above, including some famous ones, but there’s no question who the most attractive player on the waiver wire is. Teemu Pulkkinen is a stellar AHL scorer and it’s frankly a little mind-boggling that the Red Wings would waive him to make room for Luke Glendening or Drew Miller or Steve Ott or Thomas Vanek. I’m all for valuing veterans and slow-playing prospects, but that’s indefensible.
Pulkkinen isn’t the only name on the list above potentially worth claiming, though.
Among the veterans, Parenteau must have had a lousy camp, but he scored 20 goals last season and has a long track record as a top-nine forward. Condra is an excellent fourth-line option, the kind of guy that helps drive a functional bottom trio. Condon may be an option as a backup goalie.
Of the prospects, the other guys most worth noting are left-shooting defencemen. Backman, Claesson and Dahlbeck are probably all capable of playing the No. 7 role now if need be, and may have upside that an older player in that role would lack. McNeill, meanwhile, is going to be very tempting as a former first-round pick with a range of skills.
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