According to the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the Waiver system activates 12 days prior to the start of the regular season. For those counting that is tomorrow, September 24th. In the past the Waiver system revolves around the 12pm ET daily deadline, so we will assume it is the same this season.
What are Waivers? When a player is placed on waivers, all 29 other clubs have an opportunity to submit a claim on that player. The player doesn't officially go on waivers until 12:00 pm EST, so if a team submits a request to place a player on waivers Wednesday afternoon, it is not official until Thursday. A player remains on waivers for 24 hours from the point the waiver transaction is confirmed by the NHL
Why bring this up? Well it so happens that the Penguins still have 12 players in training camp with a realistic chance of being demoted to WIlkes-Barre. If they are not demoted prior to noon tomorrow they would face exposure to Waivers. Wilkes-Barre's training camp opens on Sunday.Before we get to names it is important to dispel one very common misconception regarding the two-way deal. Many people think that Waiver exposure is as simple as a one-way or two-way deal. That is not the case. The distinction is about money and nothing else. A one way deal pays a player the same amount of money at the NHL or AHL level. A two-way deal pays one salary at the NHL level and another at the AHL level. For example Eric Tangradi is on a 2-way deal that pays him $727K with the big club, but only $65K while in WBS.
Between Thursday and Friday the Penguins reassigned the following players to either Wilkes-Barre or back to their junior level clubs: Brandon DeFazio, Brian Gibbons, Ben Street, Paul Thompson, Geoff Walker, Simon Despres, Alex Grant, Joey Mormina, Philip Samuelsson, Carl Sneep, Patrick Killeen, Bryan Lerg, Zach Sill & Keven Veilleux. None of these players was in danger of being exposed to Waivers.
However still in Training camp are Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu, Steve Macintyre, Colin McDonald, Jason Williams, Joe Vitale, Deryk Engelland, Alexandre Picard, Richard Park, Nick Johnson & Boris Valabik, . All of these players potentially face waiver exposure.
First of all Jeffrey, Williams & Valabik could all be assigned to WBS temporarily for Conditioning Assignments due to recent injury and not face the Waiver Wire. This entire discussion assumes that Ben Lovejoy and Matt Niskanen are the last D-pair. Given recent quotes from Dan Bylsma this appears to be the current situation on the depth chart.
I am going to also assume that Steve McIntyre makes this club, assuming the spot that was
wasted used for Eric Godard last season. The Pens have been talking about MacIntyre for the past two summers and he is one of the most feared enforcers at the NHL level. I would be surprised if they exposed him to waivers. I also currently have Mark Letestu penciled in as the 4th line center on my own white board. If those assumptions hold, and I think they will, that means there is only one forward position open and several waiver exposed candidates fighting for it, including Dustin Jeffrey. I'll bet Jeffrey is reassigned to WBS temporarily. The opportunity to get him there on an assignment that does not expose him to waivers or re-entry waivers is simply too convenient right now given the other forwards battling for forward jobs. It also means that Eric Tangradi is pretty much a lock to be sent down as he is waiver exempt. Bylsma said yesterday that the Big Dog is not at the top of the forward list right now in his postgame with Shelly Anderson of the PPG.
However my big concern focuses on Joe Vitale and Colin McDonald. I asked Seth Rorabaugh of the PPG's @emptynetters last night if there is perceived interest from other clubs for either of those players and he indicated that there would be. McDonald was the AHL scoring leader last year (a position held by Jeffrey before his call-up) and Vitale is very near NHL ready according to most people. I would be surprised if they either were still Penguins if they were exposed to waivers. If you look at the ridiculous prices paid for low to middle talent for players like Mike Rupp and Maxime Talbot in the offseason its not a leap to see where teams would jump at bargain cost forward talent. (Teams that make a waiver claim on an exposed player assume the full contract or half of it if the claim is made on re-entry)
What will also be interesting is to see what happens where will some of these guys end up? As I said, there is a maximum of three forward spots available (that mean's I'd be wrong about Mac too) and 8 waiver exposed forwards. 5 Forwards will be exposed to waivers at some point assuming there are no more demotions before tomorrow. The situation at defense is a little clearer. Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo will go down to WBS as they can be recalled without re-entry exposure (assuming they don't just blow us all away in the remainder of camp and flat out make the team).
That leaves Valabik, Engelland and Picard fighting for one D-spot. Given the injury situation wth Valabik he'll do reconditioning at WBS. Picard has impressed but is it enough to take the 7th spot away from Engelland? I don't know. What I do know is whomever loses will face waivers and could be wearing a different sweater very soon. There is a drought of defensive talent in the NHL right now.
How do you calculate Waiver exposure? Well its not as straightforward as my H.S. Calculus teacher would have liked. Three key factors play into it. Age, NHL games played, and years of experience. I could put all the charts in the world up, but that's already been done for you here at Pension Plan Puppets. You can also use Capgeek's Waiver Calculator.
There is one very important thing to note if you decide to delve into these calculations. You must know the date that the player's first pro (NHL) contract was signed on. Waiver status depends on the date because it is calculated off of the Calendar year of the June PRIOR to the signing of the contract. This makes the signing of Bryan Strait on July 1st, 2009 important. If he had been signed in May of the same year he would be non-exempt instead of his current waiver exempt status, which we will enjoy for one more year.
A good rule of thumb to set of warning bells about someone's waiver status is when they go over 60 games played at the NHL level (including playoffs) or no longer on their entry level deal. That's when you want to start doing the math.
In the end a great deal hinges on the Penguins roster moves in the next 22 hours and 41 minutes. If they do nothing, some of these players potentially won't be in the Penguins system any longer.