Phantoms: Waiver Wire Worries

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)

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)


der Eishockeyzuschauer



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

Categories: Phantoms Hockey


9 replies

  1. Once again a good, and timely piece, d.E…

    I believe Mark Alt will have to be healthy before he can be “sent down” as it were. He’ll be on NHL I/R until such time. His injury, although not being widely reported, is believed to be (another) separated shoulder from an awkward fight fall Wednesday night at the PPL Center in the NHL exhibition game, and may take some time to properly heal.

    Weal is the one that I worry about. As you rightly point out, you have to accept the terms of the contract(s) and McDonald as well as MacDonald have pretty hefty deals if I recall correctly. O’Neill is more of an AHL guy–a good one–but I don’t see him getting claimed. A team with a sudden need for forward depth could grab Weal just as Porter was taken last season.

  2. Injured players cannot be sent down, this is true. It could be a bit of a break (pun intended) for Alt, who, with the exception of three brief recalls by the Philadelphia Flyers, has mostly been earning an annual salary of $ 67,500 during his first three years as a professional. If Alt is, in fact, on injured reserve at the start of this season, then he will be paid at the pro-rated rate of $ 625,000 per day — an amount more than six times as much as his minor league split pays per day.

    For my money, Weal is too much of an unknown commodity at the NHL level having skated in a total of just 14 games (0 go, 0 as) for the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers last season … I would be more concerned that an experienced forward like Colin McDonald or perhaps Chris VandeVelde, both of who could play on a checking line, would be claimed off of the waiver wire, myself.

  3. Note To Kram :

    Jordan Weal had a goal and an assist in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins in NHL pre-season action on Saturday night — perhaps this is Weal’s personal strategy for coping with the dread and fear of waiver wire worries.

    David Pastrank, the 20-year-old winger from the Czech Republic who had a disappointing World Cup of Hockey tournament, scored two goals for the Boston Bruins at the expense of his countryman and WCH teammate, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

    Malcolm Subban, the 1st round pick of the Boston Bruins at the 2012 NHL Draft, had 29 saves to claim the victory versus the Flyers. Now entering the final leg of his three-year entry level contract, this could definitely be a make or break year in the Boston organization for the once highly-touted 22-year-old who does have pretty good numbers after three full seasons in the AHL (95 ga, 40 avg, .918 svpct). Malcolm, who is the brother of Montreal Canadiens star defenseman P.J. Subban, appears to be stuck behind two veterans, Finland national team star Tuukka Rask and the Russian NHL journeyman Anton Khudobin, on the Boston Bruins’ depth chart.

    Subban would be just one good reason to buy a ticket to the PPL Center when the Providence Bruins show up in downtown Allentown later this season …

  4. Additional Notes To Kram :

    I suppose it is worth noting who was in uniform for the Philadelphia Flyers versus the Boston Bruins last night :

    Neuvirth – Gostisbehere, Provorov, Del Zotto, MacDonald, Sanheim, Myers – Voracek, Schenn, Simmonds, Weise, Weal, Couturier, Laughton, Cousins, Konecny, VandeVelde, Gordon, Lyubimov

    NHL veterans not in uniform : Streit, Manning, Gudas (inj), Schultz (inj) – Giroux, Raffl, Read, Bellemare

    AHLers still in camp not dressed : O’Neill, Alt (inj) – McDonald, Leier, Bardreau (inj)


  1. Phantoms Forwards: Weal Clears Waivers, Not On Way To Lehigh Valley

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