Dec 19: All five players have cleared waivers. Soshnikov and Zhuravlyov will have their contracts terminated.
Dec 18: Considering the amount of roster moves taking place today in advance of tomorrow’s roster freeze, it’s no surprise to see a crowded waiver wire this afternoon. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes, Craig Smith (BOS), Austin Czarnik (DET), Jason Demers (EDM), Nikita Soshnikov (NYI), and Danil Zhuravlyov (COL) have all been placed on waivers.
Soshnikov and Zhuravlyov have both been placed on waivers for the purposes of contract termination, meaning that if they clear, they will be released by their organizations. As reported earlier, Demers is on waivers after signing an NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers today, though little will change if he’s not claimed as he’s been playing with their AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, this season. Lukas Sedlak, who was placed on unconditional waivers yesterday, has cleared.
Zhuravlyov, 22, was a fifth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche back in 2018 but only came to North America this year, joining the Colorado Eagles. In that time, the defenseman has played in 14 games and while it hasn’t exactly been a resounding success, recording just an assist in that time, it was far from a poor performance for the developing blueliner. It’s unclear what the next step would be should he clear, but perhaps an opportunity closer to home could be available. Zhuravlyov spent the previous three seasons with AK Bars in the KHL.
Soshnikov, who had just returned to North America after a three year stint in the KHL, had made the New York Islanders roster out of training camp, however he had seen rather limited playing time before being placed on waivers and sent down in mid-November, getting into just three games on the Island. Like Sedlak and Zhuravlyov, perhaps an opportunity closer to home is on the table for Soshnikov, though nothing’s confirmed for the latter two.
Czarnik is no stranger to the waiver wire himself, claimed twice last season, once by the Seattle Kraken from the Islanders, then again by the Islanders from the Kraken. The forward signed with the Detroit Red Wings this season, placed on waivers just prior to the start of the regular season, and now finds himself on the wire for the fourth time in roughly 10 months. Known as a solid depth option wherever he goes, the 30-year-old Czarnik has three points in 11 NHL games this season to go with an impressive 14 points in 12 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate.
Perhaps the most intriguing name on this list is Smith. A veteran of 12 NHL seasons, the forward is in the final year of a three-year, $3.1MM AAV contract he signed with the Boston Bruins prior to the 2020-21 season. The 33-year-old has struggled to start this season with just four points in 17 games, playing just 9:51 per night, far less than his career 14:44 average. By placing him on waivers, it’s likely the Bruins, who are operating right along the edge of the salary cap ceiling will be hoping Smith is claimed, relieving them from his cap hit.
Given the Bruins impeccable start to this season and the possibility of their competitive window closing shortly, considering Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci’s age and David Pastrnak’s uncertain contract status, one would think the team will be looking to make a splash at or before the trade deadline. Having Smith claimed isn’t the be-all-end-all of making a big acquisition, but would get the ball rolling in Boston, or at the very least, allow them to hand off his cap hit without having to give up an asset to do so.