All three players placed on waivers yesterday, Michael Del Zotto (OTT), Sheldon Dries (VAN), and Nic Petan (VAN), cleared waivers today and can be assigned to their respective AHL clubs (link). Though these three do not belong to playoff teams in the NHL, their being sent to the AHL is not necessarily insignificant, as both the Belleville Senators and the Abbotsford Canucks, the AHL affiliates of the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks, respectively, have made the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs.
On Del Zotto, Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia says that even though Del Zotto cleared and could join Belleville, it’s not entirely clear if he will actually join the team (link). A veteran of 736 NHL games, the 31-year-old Del Zotto has been an NHL regular since his rookie season in 2009-10 with the New York Rangers, last seeing AHL time in 2010-11. This season, however, has been a different story. Del Zotto managed only 26 games with the struggling Ottawa Senators, though when he was in the lineup, he impressed, posting 13 points in those 26 games. The defenseman did see his first AHL action in over a decade as well, dressing in as many games (26), but had an impeccable 27 points for Belleville. Having Del Zotto suit up for Belleville to help their run would not only benefit Belleville of course, but would help Ottawa as well, with Del Zotto providing a major boost to a team full of young, future Ottawa Senators getting experience with meaningful professional playoff games.
Much of the same sentiment can be placed on Petan and Dries, who also made contributions to the NHL team this season, but could provide a major impact in the Calder Cup playoffs. Petan played in 18 games this season for Vancouver, recording just two assists, but was a star in the AHL, where he had 12 goals and 32 assists in just 37 games. Dries, like Petan, suited up in a few games with Vancouver (11), recording two goals and an assist, but was a critical piece in Abbotsford’s playoff berth, scoring an impressive 35 goals and 27 assists in only 54 games.
Notably, because these three players were in the AHL in some capacity, even if just on paper as in Petan’s case, on March 21st, the NHL’s trade deadline, they are all eligible to participate in the AHL playoffs.