Shortly after noon the NHL announces waiver activity if anyone was claimed. There was of course significant interest in Pittsburgh with today’s news to see if goaltender Casey DeSmith would be claimed by another team or not.
As news trickled out it was soon revealed that no other NHL team claimed DeSmith, so he remains with the Penguins and is now eligible for assignment to AHL Wilkes-Barre.
Goaltenders on waivers always present interesting situations and scenarios for NHL teams. First, they need the goalie they claim to be clearly better than their backup option, since teams really can only functionally keep two healthy goaltenders for long periods of time. Most teams tend to like the goalies they have in-house and have tended to have been developing for years and want to see that out.
There’s also the matter of contract, claiming DeSmith means also picking up that $1.25m annual salary for the next three years, which is a lot of term for a backup goalie. Traditionally these days in the NHL, backup goalies are on very short term contracts, since performances can vary teams don’t typically want to get locked in with a goalie who might not remain NHL caliber for several years. Backup goalies also tend to bounce around from team to team a lot more.
One other goalie, Eric Comrie, was claimed by Arizona after being waived by Winnipeg. Comrie is younger and much cheaper than DeSmith, which likely factored into the decision.
Pittsburgh can now assign DeSmith to Wilkes-Barre, where all but $175,000 of his $1.25 million cap hit will be off the books as far as counting against the NHL salary cap. Or, they could seek to trade him today as well.
But DeSmith won’t be bouncing out of the Pens organization, at least not yet anyways.