With the sheer number of players on waivers yesterday, you could bet at least a couple would be claimed by teams in need of added depth. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the Carolina Hurricanes have claimed Anton Forsberg (EDM), the San Jose Sharks have claimed Rudolfs Balcers (OTT), the New Jersey Devils have claimed Eric Comrie (WPG) and the Nashville Predators have claimed Luca Sbisa (WPG). The rest of the 100+ players have all cleared.
Forsberg, 28, returns to the organization he played for last season, an interesting move given the Hurricanes did not re-sign him in the offseason. The veteran goaltender has spent time with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks as well but has been limited to minor league duty for most of the past two years. In 2019-20 he played three games for the Hurricanes, posting an .897 save percentage. In the minor leagues, he had a .905. Forsberg will likely serve as the team’s third goaltender this season but would have to clear waivers in order to go to the taxi squad. Perhaps the team believes they can slip him through in a few days after carrying three goaltenders for the first part of the season.
The Oilers now must find another option for their own taxi squad, though Dylan Wells or Stuart Skinner could fill that role for the time being. Both goaltenders are waiver-exempt, though they were destined to fill the net in the minor leagues this season. The Hurricanes did put Alex Nedeljkovic on waivers today, though with the complicated salary cap dance the Oilers are performing they may not be able to fit him in on the NHL roster at this point.
Balcers, 23, is also rejoining a familiar organization, heading back to the team that drafted him in 2015. The young Latvian forward was part of the Erik Karlsson deal in 2018 and has played 51 games for the Senators over the last two seasons. His name was a surprising one on waivers yesterday, given how well he has played in the minor leagues so far in his short career. Balcers has 115 points in 143 career AHL games, including 56 goals. For a team still just barely turning the corner on a rebuild, it’s hard to watch a young prospect disappear for nothing.
Where he fits into the San Jose lineup isn’t clear at all, but Balcers is worth a claim if you believe that he can still become a regular in the NHL. The Sharks need young talent as badly as anyone.
Comrie becomes the answer in New Jersey, where the Devils suddenly lost Corey Crawford to retirement and needed some depth at the goaltending position. Whether he can actually help them at the NHL level is still to be determined, given the 25-year-old goaltender has just an .868 save percentage in eight career games. Comrie has been an excellent option for the Manitoba Moose however, including posting a .918 save percentage last season after returning to the Jets organization (he was claimed by Arizona, traded to Detroit, and then claimed back by the Jets all in the span of a few months during the 2019-20 season).
Sbisa is an interesting one, given his long history at the NHL level. The 30-year-old defenseman has played in 548 games over a long career, including 44 last season with the Jets. As we wrote last month, the Predators were in dire need of another depth defenseman if only to provide some injury insurance this season and they’ve now found just the player. Sbisa can come in and out for them whenever needed but costs very little with an $800K contract. Still, Jarred Tinordi may end up the casualty here, though it seems likely he would clear waivers if necessary.