I must admit that I never really got into waiver requirements. I knew enough about them such that some players had to be placed on waivers before they could get demoted to the American Hockey League. I knew that they could be claimed by other organizations, though it's not often since usually players who get sent down to the AHL aren't very good. I just didn't bother to learn what would cause a player to go through waivers. However, I decided to change that and figure it out if only to determine who is and is not exempt from waivers on the New Jersey Devils.
I was inspired to do this thanks to this comment from Bobby V from Thursday's post. He is correct. CapGeek does have a calculator that does determine waiver status. Per the CBA which is linked at CapGeek, the requirements are based on how old the player was when the contract was signed and how many NHL games he has played. That's it. The 2012 (2013?) CBA did change the requirements in Article 13; re-entry waivers have been eliminated. Rather than rely on the waivers, it's good to understand the requirements. Article 13.4 has a helpful chart that breaks down the exempt status requirements for any contracts signed for 2013-14 and going forward:
|Age||Years from Signing NHL Deal||NHL GP (RS + PO)||Years from Signing NHL Deal||NHL GP (RS + PO)|
What this means is that when a player signs their first standard player's contract (SPC) with a NHL team, their exemption status can begin. The key word is can because the clock starts going for any player over the age of 20 who has a contract and plays professional hockey at any level. So if a 21-year old signs their first NHL deal and they play professional hockey - NHL, AHL, Europe, etc. - in their first season under that deal, they will be exempt from waivers for three years or 80 games played starting with that first season. If that player was a goalie, then they would have four years or 60 games. If that player was actually 26, then they would be exempt for only that first season - regardless of whether they play in the NHL or not. If either the years (defined as seasons) or games played requirement is met, then their exemption status goes away immediately. They would then be eligible for regular waivers, which is what we usually see during a season. As a general rule, a player who's been signed to a deal for five seasons (six for goalies) or played in at least 160 NHL games will not be exempt.
I starred the 18 and 19 year ages because they have an additional wrinkle in their status per Article 13.4. If an 18 or 19 year old skater signs and plays in at least 11 NHL games - not professional, just NHL games - in their 18 or 19 year old season, then their exemption length goes down to three years, starting with that very first season. For goalies, 11 NHL games cuts their length down to four years. The games played requirement does not change, though. If they hit that mark first, then they lose their waiver exempt status anyway. Usually, if an 18 or 19 year old player plays in that many games, then they're usually good enough that sending them down isn't a legitimate option.
Provided that I understood all that correctly, let's apply it to the New Jersey Devils. After cross-referencing CapGeek's waiver status calculator, I ran down the entire reserve list for the New Jersey Devils to see if they would be exempt from waivers. I omitted obvious non-exempt players like Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac. The players who could possibly be sent down are going to be further down the depth chart and/or not nearly as experienced. That cut down the whole list to 36 out of 48 players. Here's that list of 36 players who are young and/or just in the system on the reserve list - Dan Kelly isn't included since he signed an AHL deal - and their waiver exempt status.
|Devils Signed||13-14 Age||NHL GP||Yrs Signed||Waiver Exempt?|
|Larsson||20||107||2||YES (1 yr/36 GP)|
|Matteau||19||17||1||YES (2 yrs/130 GP)|
|Boucher||20||0||0 (13-14)||YES (3 yrs/160 GP)|
|Severson||19||0||1||YES (4 yrs/160 GP)|
|Wedgewood||21||0||1||YES (3 yrs/72 GP)|
|Burlon||23||0||2||YES (1 yr/69 GP)|
|Gelinas||22||1||3||YES (1 yr/142 GP)|
|Merrill||21||0||0 (13-14)||YES (3 yrs/80 GP)|
|Wohlberg||23||0||1||YES (2 yrs/60 GP)|
|Scarlett||20||0||1||YES (3 yrs/160 GP)|
|Hrabarenka||21||0||0 (13-14)||YES (3 yrs/80 GP)|
|Hoeffel||24||0||2||YES (1 yr/60 GP)|
|Helgeson||22||0||0 (13-14)||YES (3 yrs/60 GP)|
|Boychuk||22||0||2||YES (1 yr/138 GP)|
|Clermont||21||0||2||YES (2 yrs/72 GP)|
|Whitney||26||0||0 (13-14)||YES (1 yr)|
|D. Zajac||26||0||0 (13-14)||YES (1 yr)|
|Sislo||25||0||2||YES (1 yr/52 GP)|
|Kinkaid||24||1||2||YES (2 yr/53 GP)|
|Pesonen||25||4||1||YES (1 yr/44 GP)|
Out of these 36, 20 Devils in the system are still exempt from waivers for 2013-14. Several lost their eligibility starting this season, like Andrei Loktionov, Jacob Josefson, and Mattias Tedenby. Nine of them are in their final year of exemption. Darcy Zajac and Joe Whitney are in their only years of exemption as they signed their first SPC after the age of 25. While others could theoretically end their exemption in this coming with enough appearances, Riley Boychuk and Eric Gelinas will see their exemption status expire in 2014-15. They can't possibly meet their NHL games played requirements even if they played in the maximum number of games possible (82 regular season games, 28 playoff games). The only sure-fire New Jersey Devil player for 2013-14 that is still waiver exempt is Adam Larsson. That should end in early 2014, before the 2014-15 season.
It's worth mentioning that the numbers in the parentheses represent how much longer the player is exempt. Years refer to seasons, the games played are games played. Everyone exempt who isn't Damon Severson has three or fewer seasons left to be exempt. They don't match up with the chart from Article 13.4 that I explained earlier because they were signed under the past CBA. Requirements shifted from then a bit. That's why some of the games played requirements vary from player to player.
What's curious about this list is who isn't waiver exempt. Both Stephen Gionta and Rostislav Olesz have been signed beyond the length requirement for exemption. Either have to go through waivers if they made the New Jersey roster and were demoted during th eseason. That in of itself won't prevent a player from being sent down to the AHL. However, either could be claimed if another organization thinks either can help so it's something that the team will have to consider. It's not going to be as simple as just keeping the non-exempt guy around.
Also, Alexander Urbom is not exempt while Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill are. How all three perform in camp and preseason will really determine if any of them get a longer look in New Jersey. But their waiver status could play a role. It could be an edge for Gelinas or Merrill as the Devils don't have to risk losing them should management want them in Albany instead. Urbom would have that risk as I understand it. It may not be much of a risk since I don't know whether teams would want an inexperienced defensive defenseman, but it's something to consider. Of course, if Urbom does make the New Jersey roster, then it may only be in a case where they expect him to stay.
In any case, I hope I got this all right with respect to waiver status. It's another part of the decision-making process when it comes to whether a player makes the NHL roster or starts the season in the AHL. The fact there are no re-entry waivers, I believe means that once a player clears waivers once, then that's it for the season. That removes the risk in calling players once sent down back in non-emergency situations. Of course, if I didn't get this right, then I'll change it appropriately. Did any of these statuses surprise you? Do you think it will impact a player's chances at making the NHL team in this coming season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.