Sunday: Miftakhov has cleared waivers, Friedman reports.
Saturday: Today is the first day that players can be placed on unconditional waivers for the purposes of buying out a contract. There is a player on unconditional waivers today, albeit for another reason, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that the Lightning have placed goaltender Amir Miftakhov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.
The 22-year-old was a sixth-round pick of Tampa Bay back in 2020 (186th overall) after some promising performances in the VHL, a second-tier league in Russia. After spending 2020-21 between the KHL and VHL, the Lightning had seen enough to give Miftakhov a three-year, entry-level deal with an eye on trying to develop him as a goalie of the future.
However, things didn’t go well in Miftakhov’s first season in North America. He split his time between AHL Syracuse and ECHL Orlando and while he had a decent showing in five games with the Solar Bears, the same couldn’t be said for how he performed with the Crunch. He posted a save percentage of just .891 along with a GAA of 3.03 in 22 games and was relegated to third-string status in the playoffs behind veteran Maxime Lagace and prospect Hugo Alnefelt. That appears to be enough for the two sides to agree that parting ways is the best approach.
Teams will have until 1 PM CT on Saturday if they want to place a claim on Miftakhov if they believe he’s worthy of some development in the minors. Assuming the goalie clears, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and at this point, returning to play back home in Russia is a likely scenario. If his deal is terminated, Alnefelt will be the only Tampa Bay goalie signed for next season beyond their NHL tandem of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott.