A guaranteed one-way salary of $ 4,750,000 this term and an expensive contract that does not expire until the end of the 2019/20 season are two reasons why Andrew MacDonald (# 47) would almost certainly clear waivers if the 30-year-old was sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for a second consecutive year …
(photo courtesy “Our Sports Central” site)
On Friday, the Philadelphia Flyers organization assigned five players, all of whom have two-way NHL contracts, to their Lehigh Valley Phantoms farm club. However, before forwards Andy Miele, Chris Conner, Greg Carey and Petr Straka as well as defenseman T.J. Brennan are all officially eligible to skate for Lehigh Valley in an American Hockey League game, they must all first ‘clear’ or ‘pass through’ National Hockey League “waivers”. Word quickly getting around in downtown Allentown is that some Phantoms fans are concerned that the Hamilton Street Heroes will lose a player or two on account of the waivers process — as was actually the case during training camp last season.
The simple fact of the matter is that such fears are, for the most part, unfounded and, following a quick review of the waivers process, itself, we’ll discuss exactly why that would be.
Waivers, in layman’s terms, means that anytime a National Hockey League club wants to send a player under contract who falls under a certain classification down to their American Hockey League affiliate, the other 29 NHL clubs must all have the opportunity to add that player to their own team by assuming or taking over his existing contract. Basically speaking, any given player who has reached a certain age or has already skated in a certain number of NHL games is classified as being “eligible for waivers”. If more than one NHL club “claims” a player who has been placed on waivers, then there are procedures to sort that matter out but that would be of no concern here in the Mecca Of Minor League Sports.
Waiver claims are not a common occurrence because of a few different factors which are always hard at work. The most industrious of these would be the regulation which says that any player who has been claimed off of waivers by a club must stay on that team’s NHL roster for a period of no less than 30 days. Because all NHL clubs must abide by a roster limit of no more than 23 players not on injured reserve at all times, space is at a premium and so teams really only claim a player off of waivers when there is one that suits a specific need perfectly.
It should be reiterated that the NHL club claiming a player off of waivers must agree to pay the exact same wages that are stipulated in that player’s existing contract. So, therefore, the NHL club making a claim on waivers must be able to fit the prospective new player in under the league’s salary cap restrictions. It is also important to remember that the NHL club plucking a player off of the waiver wire must accept all the terms that are in the player’s existing contract including the length of the deal, performance bonuses, as well as the amount of the two-way minor league salary to be paid, if applicable.
Yes, it is true that the Minnesota Wild went ahead and claimed Chris Porter off of the NHL waiver wire when the Philadelphia Flyers tried to assign the now 32-year-old left wing to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ AHL farm club last September. But it was not the loss of a career checking line defensive forward that caused only three teams in the American Hockey League’s entire 14-team Eastern Conference to finish with fewer points in the standings than the Phantoms did last season. No, the Porter case was an aberration — it was the front office decision to sign players like Geoff Walker, landslide winner of the 2015/16 “Phantom” Player Of The Year Award, to AHL contracts that was far more culpable for Lehigh Valley’s failures last season.
As this article is written on Saturday afternoon, it is already known that all five players sent down by the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday —- Miele, Conner, Carey, Straka and Brennan — have all been passed over by all the other National Hockey League clubs and are now all set to formally skate for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League. While this is certainly most welcome and exciting news — especially the addition of a player who has been voted the AHL’s Best Defenseman two times in the last three years and another who has been among the AHL’s top six scoring leaders three times in the last three seasons — it is definitely also rather routine in many respects, as well. Naturally, the Flyers will be assigning more players to the Phantoms in the days to come and so the whole process of waiver wire dread and worry will play itself out as it does countless times over the course of any given hockey season.
There are five players still in training camp with the Philadelphia Flyers whom this blog had originally projected to be assigned to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms who would have to clear NHL waivers if and when they are sent down — defensemen Andrew MacDonald, Will O’Neill and Mark Alt in addition to forwards Colin McDonald and Jordan Weal …
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