With the NHL regular season approaching quickly, many players will be put on waivers over the next several days. We’ll keep track of all of them right here:
With the NHL regular season approaching quickly, many players will be put on waivers over the next several days. We’ll keep track of all of them right here:
When the NHL starts running out of cap space as it is now, many unsigned unrestricted free agents have to resort to a different tactic than a normal negotiation. Instead of pursuing opportunities overseas or in the minor leagues, these veterans sign professional tryouts to try and make an impact in training camp. Already we’ve seen a few of these, with the Toronto Maple Leafs signing Michal Neuvirth and Matt Read while the Philadelphia Flyers took a chance on Chris Stewart. For the last few weeks there have been reports linking the Boston Bruins and Alexander Petrovic in a similar capacity, something that Alex Thomas of Boston Hockey Now has heard again today.
To be clear, actually getting an NHL contract out of a professional tryout is rare. Most of the players brought into camps are there to fill veteran quotas in road preseason games and are cut before the start of the regular season. But every once in a while, someone impresses enough to land a spot on the roster. Here are several examples from last season:
Alex Chiasson, Edmonton Oilers – 73 GP, 22 goals, 38 points
The poster boy for the PTO last season was Chiasson, who not only made the Oilers out of camp but experienced the best offensive season of his career. In fact, Chiasson was the fourth-highest scoring forward on Edmonton and set himself to not have to deal with another tryout for a while. The Oilers re-signed the 28-year old forward to a two-year, $4.3MM deal last month to keep him in the fold.
Jason Garrison, Edmonton Oilers – 17 GP, 1 goal, 1 point
Things didn’t go quite so smoothly for the other Oilers PTO that earned a contract. Garrison outplayed Jakub Jerabek in camp and earned a deal, but ended up on the move just a few months later. After 17 games with Edmonton, Garrison was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks as part of the Drake Caggiula–Brandon Manning deal where his contract was promptly terminated. Garrison ended up playing the rest of the year in Sweden, where he helped Djurgardens to the SHL Final.
Drew Stafford, New Jersey Devils – 57 GP, 5 goals, 13 points
Stafford came back to the Devils on a PTO after playing 59 games for them in 2017-18, and earned a spot after Jesper Bratt suffered a broken jaw in the preseason. The veteran forward would end up playing in a good chunk of the season but was still unable to contribute much offensively. Still, extending your career by another full NHL season and earning a cool $810K isn’t a bad outcome.
Stephen Gionta, New York Islanders – 5 GP, 0 goals, 0 points
Gionta didn’t actually get a contract at the end of camp, but decided to stick around and see if something happened in the first few weeks of the season. That decision paid off as Casey Cizikas suffered an injury leading to a two-way deal for Gionta in mid-October. A few days later he was clearing waivers and going down to join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the third consecutive season where he spent the majority of the year. Gionta has recently taken a scouting position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Luca Sbisa, New York Islanders – 9 GP, 0 goals, 1 point
When Sbisa earned a $1.5MM deal in Islanders training camp it looked like he had fully recovered from the injury that had limited him to just 30 games with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 and was ready to be a key contributor once again. Instead he served as a press box regular and ended up actually playing in just a handful of games all season. Sbisa is still unsigned this summer and may have to use the tryout method again if he wants to continue his NHL career. At just 29, it is unfortunate just how quickly things have fallen apart for the 2008 first round pick.
Michal Cajkovsky, Carolina Hurricanes – 0 GP, 0 goals, 0 points
The KHL veteran ended up earning a contract in camp with the Hurricanes, but given he was still waiver-exempt he ended up in the minors before the season began. After 23 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, Cajkovsky decided it was time to leave North America once again and saw his contract mutually terminated. He ended up back in the KHL for the rest of the year.
Brandon Davidson, Chicago Blackhawks – 10 GP, 0 goals, 1 point
For the second consecutive season the Blackhawks decided to sign a veteran defenseman at the end of camp. Following Cody Franson in 2017, Davidson inked a $650K deal with the Blackhawks and was on the roster at the start of the season. He’d end up injured and scratched most of the time before clearing waivers and ending up back in the minor leagues. Amazingly, Davidson didn’t have to wait around this time and has already signed with the Calgary Flames for 2019-20.
Lee Stempniak, Boston Bruins – 2 GP, 0 goals, 0 points
Stempniak actually stuck around with the Bruins and their AHL affiliate for most of the season without a contract, only officially signing on February 24th. He was used a lot more by the Providence Bruins instead of Boston, but did get into a pair of NHL games to keep his career alive.
After adding goalie Cam Talbot earlier, the Calgary Flames have addressed their depth at the other two positions, signing defenseman Brandon Davidson and forward Byron Froese, per team releases. Both veteran players have signed one-year, two-way contracts with NHL AAV’s of $700K.
Both Davidson, 27, and Froese, 28, have bounced around the hockey world of late and are hoping to find more stability by landing in Calgary. Davidson, an Alberta native, has spent two stints with the Edmonton Oilers, as well as time with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks in the last four years alone. Davidson has struggled to score at the NHL level, but has shown that he can be a dominant physical force at times. Froese, from nearby Manitoba, did not see any NHL action last year, but was traded nonetheless from the Montreal Canadiens to the Philadelphia Flyers. It was the second time in three years he had been traded and Philly became his fourth team in that span, joining Montreal, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. Like Davidson, Froese has really never been more than a part-time player at the highest level due to concerns about his offensive ability. However, he has established himself as a solid two-way forward.
Given the depth that the Flames have on both the blue line and up front, the odds are the Davidson and Froese will spend much of next season with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. However, their NHL experience and reliable defensive ability should make them top call-up options for Calgary when injuries strike.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, we will be taking a closer look at the situation for each team over the coming weeks. Where do they stand, what do they need to do, and what assets do they have to fill those needs? As we begin to examine the Pacific Division, here is a look at the Calgary Flames.
The Calgary Flames are the kings of the Western Conference so far. With 71 points in 51 games, the Flames hold a commanding six-point lead with a game in hand over the San Jose Sharks in the division and are three points up on the Winnipeg Jets overall. In fact, the Flames trail only the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL standings right now. The team has been rolling on all cylinders this season, finding success on both offense – No. 2 in goals per game – and defense – No. 7 in goals against per game. However, Calgary is not without fault and will be looking to add in several areas at the deadline.
However, GM Brad Treliving and company must be methodical in their approach. The Flames have just over $7MM in cap space to work with and need to be sure of their priorities when it comes to the market. The team also needs to avoid trading one of their most valuable trade assets, this year’s first-round pick. With only five selections scheduled for this June, losing their first-rounder could see Calgary make their draft debut in the late third round. As such, the Flames need to do what they can to capitalize on the strong regular season and improve before the postseason, but will be forced to be more strategic than a typical all-out buyer.
33-13-5, first in the Pacific Division
$7.09MM in full-season cap hit, 0/3 used salary cap retention slots, 45/50 contracts per CapFriendly
2019: CGY 1st, CGY 3rd, NYI 4th, CGY 5th, CAR 7th
2020: CGY 1st, CGY 2nd, CGY 3rd, CGY 4th, CGY 5th, CGY 6th, CGY 7th
If the Flames indeed take this year’s first-round pick off the table, it will have repercussions in their dealings with sellers. Depending on the team and target, some may be happy with next year’s first-rounder or, in a buyer’s market, a later pick. Others could look for a pro-ready piece to substitute the immediate boost of a first-round talent in the system. If that’s the case, Calgary has to be prepared to listen to offers including Sam Bennett. Bennett, the 2014 fourth overall pick, is struggling through another disappointing season. Now in his fourth year with the Flames, Bennett has yet to crack 20 goals or 40 points in a single season and looks likely to fall short yet again. It is far from the output that Calgary expected, but they have stuck with the frustrating forward thus far. Bennett’s ability is apparent and he’s shown flashes of brilliance from time to time, but he has been unable to put together a complete game. Even as the 22-year-old has tried to embrace a more physical, high-energy style over the past season plus, he has again missed his mark and has become a penalty liability far too frequently, especially for a team with a poor penalty kill. Bennett may reach his potential one day, but it seems unlikely to be with Calgary. In a season where the Flames have a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup, they need to finally give up on Bennett if that’s the price of a much-needed addition. Another castoff who has yet to meet expectations is Curtis Lazar, who could still have some intrigue for sellers.
One of the Flames’ current young defenseman could also be a trade deadline target. With five capable veterans on the back end signed through at least next season and three promising young defenders itching for more NHL responsibility, someone is going to be the odd man out next year. Juuso Valimaki, the team’s top defensive prospect, seems like a safe bet to stay put. However, the current bottom pair of Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington may not stay together much longer. Both have more than proven themselves as capable pros this season, but if the Flames want to land a big fish at the deadline, they may have to give up one or the other. Losing Kylington would hurt slightly less than Andersson.
Among other prospects, first-year pro forwards Matthew Phillips and Glenn Gawdin are sure to draw interest, but the Flames may be hesitant to move either. However, with Dillon Dube out of the question, the pair could be next up among Calgary’s top minor league pieces. The Flames could try to capitalize on the breakout season of USHL star Martin Pospisil to sell high on the recent fourth-rounder.
Finally, with Jon Gillies officially losing out to David Rittich in the battle of young goaltenders in Calgary, the Flames would likely be open to moving the struggling 25-year-old. Especially if they are in pursuit of a replacement goalie of their own, the seller may like the idea of taking a waiver on another young goalie and Gillies fits the bill. So too may Tyler Parsons.
1) Starting Goaltender: Most contenders don’t get to that point if they have a need at starting goaltender. This year’s Flames are a rare exception. Incumbent starter Mike Smith has struggled all year long and has a sub-.900 save percentage and a goals against average up over 3.00 in 25 appearances. Young David Rittich has take over as the go-to option and has performed admirably in 30 appearances, but has faded since his hot start to the season. Most likely, Calgary’s Cup hopes live and die by what they do in net. Doing nothing at all will likely cost them their chance barring a heroic return to form from Smith. Adding a third goalie to at least compete for starts will let them continue their current trajectory. Carolina Hurricanes’ keepers Petr Mrazek or Curtis McElhinney could fall into this group, as could Cam Talbot from the rival Edmonton Oilers or old friend Brian Elliott, if healthy. If the Flames instead opt to upgrade the position with one of the three main goalies on the market – Sergei Bobrovksy, Jimmy Howard, and Semyon Varlamov – one would have to think that their title chances would improve significantly. The trick will be adding one of these three at a reasonable price while also keeping enough cap space open to add in other areas. Moving Smith in another deal could be an option.
2) Top-Nine Winger: Michael Frolik, Sam Bennett, James Neal, and Austin Czarnik simply haven’t panned out as expected this season. As dominant as the Flames’ top line and two-thirds of their second line has been, they have needed help on the wing in the middle six for much of the year. If they can add a forward that can also help out their 21st-ranked penalty kill, that would be even better. If they can add two such capable two-way wingers? That would be ideal. Again, the Flames lack of cap space and bigger need in net make this a likely result, but Calgary has a serious need for depth on the wing and it could be exposed in the postseason if not addressed. Some of the more cap-friendly outside options are likely to be targets, such as Jakob Silfverberg, Richard Panik, Ryan Dzingel, or Patrick Maroon. However, the possibility of a return to Calgary for Micheal Ferland remains one of the most intriguing possibilities at the deadline. Ferland seemingly would be a great fix for what ails the Flames.
3) Veteran Depth Defenseman: Even though depth on defense has been identified as a strength for the Flames moving forward, there are some concerns at present. Michael Stone is currently sidelined with a blood clot issue and there is no definitive timeline for his return. Meanwhile, rookies Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, and Juuso Valimaki have played a little over 100 career NHL games combined and the other young options in the AHL aren’t instilling any confidence. Calgary has an impressive top four that they will no doubt lean on in the playoffs, but just one injury could leave Dalton Prout as the team’s top replacement option and that is a problem. The Flames need to add another experienced veteran to the blue line and, even if the right-handed Stone returns to health, could use an extra body on the left side preferably. Treliving would have to get creative, but Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall would be a great fit. More affordable options include Jordie Benn and Brandon Davidson among others.
With seven healthy defenseman finally on their roster, the Chicago Blackhawks announced that they have assigned defenseman Brandon Davidson to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, freeing up a roster spot for Gustav Forsling, who has been on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
The 27-year-old Davidson has had trouble finding a full-time role with any team as he is already on his fourth organization in his fifth season in the league. Due to injuries and multiple healthy scratches, Davidson has appeared in just 10 games for Chicago this year. He has been traded twice, claimed on waivers once and this year opted to sign a one-year deal with a Chicago in the offseason worth $650K. He hasn’t played a game in the AHL since the 2014-15 season when he played for the Oklahoma City Barons, no longer an affiliate with the AHL.
For the Blackhawks, it’s just another move to rebuild their blueline that has gotten younger throughout the season, starting with Henri Jokiharju making the team out of camp, to the promotion of Carl Dahlstrom on Dec. 12, to the recent acquisition of Slater Koekkoek from Tampa Bay. The team has also moved out some veterans, including dealing Brandon Manning and his two-year deal to Edmonton in exchange for winger Drake Caggiula and veteran defenseman Jason Garrison, who the team immediately placed on unconditional waivers and released. The team then moved Jan Rutta to the Lightning to acquire Koekkoek.
These moves should only continue into next season as well as the Blackhawks have a number of young blueliners who could be ready for Chicago next year, including 2018 first-round picks Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin, as well as University of Denver standout Ian Mitchell (although the team would still have to sign him).
Thursday: All four players have cleared waivers. Garrison will see his contract terminated and will pursue other opportunities, while Davidson has been activated from injured reserve.
Wednesday: Despite clearing regular waivers earlier this week, Jason Garrison now finds himself back on the wire. According to Scott Powers of The Athletic, the Chicago Blackhawks have placed Garrison on unconditional waivers, presumably in order to terminate his contract. The Blackhawks have also placed Brandon Davidson on waivers, while Wade Megan (Detroit Red Wings) and Ben Street (Anaheim Ducks) find themselves there as well.
Garrison, 34, did not report to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL after clearing waivers, leading to his placement on unconditional waivers today. Though the team has not confirmed it yet, it likely means Garrison has agreed to a mutual contract termination after not reporting, and will see the remainder of his one-year deal disappear. The veteran defenseman earned the contract after signing a professional tryout in Edmonton, but was limited to just 17 games before being included in the recent trade for Brandon Manning.
Davidson meanwhile is hitting waivers once again in his career, something that he experienced last season as well. The defenseman 27-year old was waived by the Montreal Canadiens in December 2017 only to find himself on two more teams before the end of the year. Dealing with injury for much of this year, he has suited up just seven times for the Blackhawks. Despite all that, there’s reason to believe that Davidson will be claimed by a defense-needy team given his league-minimum salary of $650K.
The Department of Player Safety announced they have fined Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman $1,000 for spearing Boston Bruins’ Chris Wagner Saturday with less than a minute left in the second period.
Hartman has been in trouble with the Department of Safety before as he was suspended for one game on Apr. 19 for an illegal check to the head against Colorado’s Carl Soderberg and then was fined for $2,320 for slashing Brayden McNabb in Oct. of 2017 against Vegas.
The Chicago Blackhawks have just three wins in their past 15 games and sport the league’s fifth-worse goals against per game. Those struggles make today’s news that much more difficult for the team. Chicago announced this evening that defenseman Brandon Davidson underwent right knee surgery today and will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks. The team will have to make do without the blue liner for the remainder of the calendar year at the very least.
Davidson, 27, has missed the Blackhawks’ past seven games with the lower-body ailment and was placed on injured reserve last week after the injury proved to be more than what was initially considered minor. A successful training camp tryout earned Davidson a one-year, minimum deal with Chicago, but given his track record of being a solid contributor in the NHL, Davidson entered the year with expectations greater than that of just a last-minute addition. In seven games so far this year, the two-way defender has only managed one point and has been relatively ineffective, but with the rest of the defensive corps struggling Davidson’s presence remained important.
With Davidson sidelined long-term, the return of Connor Murphy becomes much more important. Murphy has been out all season long with a back injury, but recently began practicing with the team and is expected back in the lineup sooner rather than later. In the meantime, the team will look to Gustav Forsling to play a starting role. Forsling has recorded four points in just six games already, including a multi-point game in his last appearance and season high in ice time the game prior. The Blackhawks need Forsling, Murphy, and company to do more than just make up for Davidson’s absence to fix the team’s overall defensive woes, but if they can, the team will be in good shape with defensive depth when Davidson returns in a month or two.
The Chicago Blackhawks placed veteran Brandon Davidson on injured reserve on Nov. 16 with little description other than a lower-body injury. Today, more than a week later, the Blackhawks announced that Davidson will undergo surgery on Tuesday for his right knee. No timetable will be announced until after the procedure.
Davidson signed a one-year, $650K deal with Chicago on Sept. 27, but has appeared in only seven games this year. With the development of some of their younger players such as Henri Jokiharju and Gustav Forsling finding their way into the lineup, Davidson has had trouble cracking the lineup. He had similar trouble last year, but still managed to appear in 51 games, albeit with three different teams. That included raising his stock while in Edmonton that allowed them to trade him to the New York Islanders for a 2019 third-rounder.
2017-18 was a whirlwind for the 27-year-old. After starting the season with Montreal, he dropped down the depth chart and was ultimately placed on waivers at the beginning of December. Edmonton placed a claim, bringing him back to his original organization but he didn’t stay there for too long as just before the trade deadline, the Islanders dealt a 2019 third-round pick to secure Davidson’s rights to give them some extra depth for their postseason push that ultimately fell short.
On the season, he wound up playing in 51 games between the three teams, collecting just four goals and three assists while averaging 16:49 per night in ice time. That output wasn’t enough to justify the Islanders tendering him a $1.55MM qualifying offer back in June which made him an unrestricted free agent.
Davidson should have a chance to make an immediate impact in Chicago as their back end is already banged up. Connor Murphy is dealing with a back injury and won’t be back until either November or December while Gustav Forsling is still recovering from offseason wrist surgery. Brent Seabrook is also nursing an abdomen injury although he could play in the season opener. That should allow Davidson to start the season in a third-pairing role and once the team is fully healthy, he’ll serve as an experienced extra player making the league minimum salary which is a nice bargain for the Blackhawks to have.