Sunday: It will be a loaded waiver wire today, as the list features five different names. Two of those players were on AHL contracts until today, as the New Jersey Devils announced that they have signed defenseman Julian Melchiori to an NHL deal for the rest of the season, while the Ottawa Senators have done the same for defenseman Hubert Labrie. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Andrew Agozzino, Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Dmytro Timashov, and recently-acquired L.A. Kings forward Tim Schaller round out the list. Goaltender Kevin Poulin has cleared waivers after signing with the Kings yesterday.
Melchiori, 28, has 30 NHL games to his credit over three years with the Winnipeg Jets, but has not played at the top level since 2016-17. Nevertheless, he has been a productive member of the AHL’s Binghamton Devils this season and provides New Jersey with another NHL option, given that Sami Vatanen and potentially others could be traded away by tomorrow’s deadline.
Similarly, the 28-year-old Labrie has proven to be a dependable defender and a locker room leader for the AHL’s Belleville Senators this season and has earned the chance to appear with Ottawa down the stretch if needed. Labrie is a career minor-leaguer, but the Senators are without many options given injuries at both levels, the recent departures of Dylan DeMelo and Cody Goloubef, and the potential that names like Ron Hainsey and Mark Borowiecki could still be moved.
The Penguins and Leafs are both in the market for additional help at the deadline and need roster flexibility where they can get it. Although Agozzino is actively in the Pittsburgh starting lineup, the 29-year-old veteran is expendable if it means opening up roster space for the Penguins, who are always active at the trade deadline. Timashov, 23, has played a very limited role in 39 games this season for Toronto and this move signals that the team feels he is worth losing if it avoids other more difficult roster decisions.
Schaller, a salary cap offset in the recent Tyler Toffoli trade, was never expected to play a regular role in Los Angeles. The Kings are well out of the playoff race and focused on working their younger players into the lineup, and the 29-year-old impending free agent is not part of that movement. Schaller has previously shown to be a good bottom-six depth option, and while a claim is unlikely, he could be flipped tomorrow after gaining the extra flexibility of clearing waivers.