Friday: The Edmonton Oilers announced they’ve placed defenseman Markus Niemeläinen on waivers. With Niemeläinen now cleared to play and eligible for waivers and a subsequent AHL assignment to the Bakersfield Condors, the team will add a forward before tomorrow’s home opener against the Vancouver Canucks, says The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman.
It seems unlikely Niemeläinen will be claimed by another team over the next 24 hours, given he has just one assist in 43 NHL games to date. The 25-year-old Finn is strictly a shutdown defender, and he hasn’t managed to post positive possession numbers despite playing extremely sheltered minutes. His 6-foot-6 frame may be appealing to some teams, though.
He’d been dealing with a short-term undisclosed injury which prevented the Oilers from waiving him before the season started and, in part, forced them to play with 17 skaters due to salary cap constraints in Wednesday’s 8-1 road drubbing at the hands of the Canucks.
Niemeläinen is in the final season of a two-year, $1.525MM contract. While it carries a cap hit of just $762.5K, below the league minimum for this season, he is making the minimum $775K in actual salary this season at both the NHL and AHL levels. In 30 games with AHL Bakersfield last season, Niemeläinen notched two goals, five assists and seven points in 30 contests. Edmonton selected him in the third round, 63rd overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.