Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Re-Entry Waivers

General managers are finding that the new CBA brings with it new rules and new strategies to deal with those rules. One of the dumber ones is the $75,000 waiver rule where any player getting paid more than $75,000 in the minors (effectively this is everyone who is not on a two way contract) needs to clear waivers to re-enter the NHL.

Effectively this means that any player who will not be in the NHL who is subject to re-entry waivers who is to be sent to the minors is lost for the season. There is no good way to bring the player back to the NHL. If you try to bring the player back you will lose that player and be stuck with half his salary on your books and on your salary cap. The only way the player will clear waivers is if no other team thinks he is good enough to play for them at half price. If he is good enough for your team, then he is most likely good enough for some other team also. A player subject to re-entry waivers who is in the minors must stay in the minors even if you have significant injury at his position or if he is having an MVP year in the AHL. You will lose him if you try to bring him back up. The only player that might make any sense to attempt to pass through re-entry waivers is a player who has a big contract that you want to get rid of and you have the salary cap room for it. This is the Todd Marchant case in Columbus, although it may not turn out well for Columbus since their salary cap will be dinged for Marchant's salary for the next few years and that may become significant.

Montreal tested re-entry waivers today with Ron Hainsey. A young player like Hainsey who is still considered a prospect by some has no chance of clearing re-entry waivers. So why did Bob Gainey even try to bring him up? I guess Gainey hoped it might work. He made a desperation move and it failed as most desperate moves do.

Ron Hainsey was Montreal's 2000 first round pick. Its very poor asset management to lose first round picks on waivers. Montreal has suffered injuries to Sheldon Souray and Mike Komisarek and has Andrei Markov suspended so the desperately needed a new defenceman who would play significant minutes. Now they don't have Ron Hainsey either. They have been forced to call up Jean-Philippe Cote for the empty roster spot. Cote is a poor AHL player who has 18 AHL points in 140 games played over three years.

Its a bad CBA that forces Montreal to play Cote when Ron Hainsey is available, but that would have been the best move. Montreal is in a worse position when they have to play Cote anyway and do not have Hainsey in their system any more. This is a stupid situation caused by a bad clause in the CBA.

NOTE: Mikhail Yakubov of the Chicago Blackhawks just cleared re-entry waivers. He began the season playing in Russia. This is a slightly different situation in that other teams would not get Yakubov at half price (thats only for people sent to the minors - does that create a small loophole if you find a European team will to warehouse your would be minor leaguers?). Nevertheless, I am a bit suprised somebody did not claim him.

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