Jan 13: Both Komarov and Nedeljkovic have cleared waivers and can be assigned to the taxi squad or minor leagues.
Jan 12: The big waiver day was yesterday, with teams putting dozens of players on the wire at the same time to prepare for the upcoming season, But the New York Islanders weren’t done there, as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that Leo Komarov has been placed on waivers today. After claiming Anton Forsberg from the Edmonton Oilers, the Carolina Hurricanes have also placed Alex Nedeljkovic on waivers.
Komarov, 33, has fallen off a cliff offensively since his early days with the Toronto Maple Leafs but is still a coach’s favorite given his in-your-face playstyle and defensive responsibility. To see him on waivers with the Islanders is something of a surprise, but certainly not much of a risk given his contract that carries a $3MM cap hit through the 2021-22 season. The Islanders are dancing a tight rope with regards to the salary cap and will gain some additional flexibility should Komarov clear. He’ll then be able to be moved at will to the taxi squad, periodically burying part of his cap hit.
Still, it seems likely that the veteran forward will get into the lineup at some point as the Islanders navigate the condensed schedule. A veteran of 457 regular season games, he played in 17 postseason contests with New York last year, scoring three points.
Nedeljkovic’s placement perhaps is even more surprising, given he was seen as the “goaltender of the future” for the Hurricanes relatively recently. The 25-year-old won the AHL Goaltender of the Year award for the 2018-19 season when he and the Charlotte Checkers took home the Calder Cup but did see something of a regression last season when he posted just a .906 save percentage in 29 minor league appearances.
Still, risking him to the rest of the league is certainly not ideal, especially if it was because of their claim of Forsberg today. While he has much more NHL experience, it still seemed as though Nedeljkovic had more upside. That is exactly the kind of reasoning a team may use to claim the young goaltender, though they would then need to carry him on the NHL squad until they can slip him through waivers themselves.