November 1st marks an important day on the NHL calendar, but one many may not be aware of. Fortunately, CapFriendly is here for the reminder. This day marks the official change over to the waiver priority by current NHL standings. In the first month of the season, as the sample size is too small to truly judge the weak from the strong in many cases, the league uses the reverse order of the prior year’s regular season standings as the waiver priority for all of October. Up until now, the Ottawa Senators have had the first chance at available players on waivers, followed by the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, and all the way to the Tampa Bay Lighting. But as of today, the top priority goes to… well, the Kings, who move up just one spot. The Senators slide back to third, with the Minnesota Wild occupying the second position. As of right now, it is the Boston Bruins who have the very last opportunity to claim a player on waivers. Waiver priority will now change constantly based on the reverse order of the league standings by points percentage.
However, at the current rate, waiver priority won’t matter too much this season. The Winnipeg Jets, who have occupied the 22nd waiver priority spot until today, have claimed defensemen Carl Dahlstrom and Luca Sbisa, and the Arizona Coyotes, who previously held spot No. 14, claimed goaltender Eric Comrie. Those have been the only claims thus far in 2019-20, an unusually low count even this early in the season.
- The mark of success so far this season? Power play efficiency. As John Dietz of the Chicago Daily Herald points out, there is no stronger correlation between wins and losses this year than how a team performs man-up. The top six teams in power play percentage are all also among the top nine in points percentage. This includes the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres at No. 1 and 2 in both statistics. Down at the bottom, five of the six worst power play teams are among the bottom the eight teams in points percentage. The only outlier appears to be the Anaheim Ducks, who have managed to overcome a 29th-ranked power play thus far to get off to an 8-6-0 start. As the skill level in the NHL improves each year and the game becomes more about using space to create offense, it only makes sense that man-up efficiency will matter more and more, with the start to this season as the perfect example.
- A strange occurrence early on this season has also been not one, but two AHL trades. AHL trades are extremely rare, as the NHL teams that manage their farm team rosters often lack any incentive to make such a deal. In general, the only motivation to make a deal that solely impacts an AHL squad is to improve depth at a certain position, either to avoid the overexposure of prospects or, later in the year, to give the team a push toward securing a playoff spot. However, even then AHL GM’s tend to eye other players on two-way NHL contracts to swap rather than players on minor league pacts. Not so far this year, though. On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids Griffins acquired forward Marcus Vela from San Jose Barracuda for defenseman Marcus Crawford in a move that wasn’t even about addressing depth, as Vela was immediately reassigned to the ECHL. Just two days later, the San Diego Gulls acquired veteran defenseman Ryan Johnston, a player who had been a healthy scratch for every game so far this season, from the Toronto Marlies for future considerations. Perhaps this is a new trend in organizational roster management or perhaps it is simply a coincidence, but either way it is an intriguing attachment to this young season.