March 17: Vesey and Forsberg were claimed by the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators respectively, but both Byron and Grigorenko have cleared. The latter two can now be placed on the taxi squad or sent to the minor leagues.
March 16: Several players have been placed on waivers today, including Paul Byron of the Montreal Canadiens. Byron is joined by Jimmy Vesey of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anton Forsberg of the Winnipeg Jets, and Mikhail Grigorenko of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Byron has already experienced this once this season, clearing waivers a month ago. Since then he had played more than ten games, meaning if the Canadiens want to place him on the taxi squad he’ll have to clear again. It’s been a disastrous two seasons for the 31-year-old forward, with just 17 points since the start of the 2019-20 campaign. That includes just two goals in 27 games this season, a far cry from the player who was one of the most effective even-strength scorers in the league just a few years ago. With the development of other younger players on the Montreal roster, Byron finds himself either buried in the lineup or on the sidelines watching. His $3.4MM cap hit (through 2022-23) certainly makes him a tough target to claim.
Vesey hasn’t seen waivers before, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise at this point. The 27-year-old forward has seven points in 30 games for the Maple Leafs and has been relegated to the fourth line in recent weeks. He has only cracked the 10-minute mark three times in his last ten games and played just 4:41 a few nights ago. With the Maple Leafs expecting Wayne Simmonds back soon and facing a delicate cap situation, Vesey’s time has come to be moved to the taxi squad.
Forsberg was already claimed off waivers twice this season, first by the Carolina Hurricanes and then by the Jets just a few days later. Now he faces another round that could change his destination as teams are still struggling to find NHL experience in net. Injuries all across the league make goaltenders like Forsberg valuable, if only because he could enter an NHL game in a pinch. It’s not like that’s actually happened this season though, through the first two months Forsberg hasn’t played a single game.
Grigorenko is an interesting name, after signing a one-year $1.2MM deal with the Blue Jackets as a return to the NHL. The 12th overall pick in 2012, Grigorenko left the NHL in 2017 to return to Russia and play in the KHL. After developing his game further there, his return was supposed to be a strong addition for Columbus. Unfortunately, with just seven points in 18 games and limited minutes, it hasn’t really worked out. Perhaps another team believes they can get the best out of him down the stretch, but a return to the KHL seems possible after this season concludes.