Prospect Ramblings: Explaining waiver exemption and one or two-way contracts… (Jul 14)

Paul Zwambag


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Explaining waiver exemption and one-way or two-way contracts…


With a lot of signings coming in over the past couple weeks and the next couple of months. Everybody looks at a prospects contract and immediately looks for a one-way or two-way contract. A lot of assumption happens that if a player signs a one-way contract, that means the prospect will make the NHL roster this coming season, and a two-way contract means they can move up or down from NHL to AHL. This isn’t actually the case with every contract, let’s explain the two differences of contracts and what it really means.

The one-way contract is a NHL contract that if a player signs a one-year contract, they will make that amount of money, whether playing in the NHL or the AHL. So, yes the team would rather have this player in the NHL, but it doesn’t mean they have to stay in the NHL. They are still able to be re-assigned to the AHL and just because a player signs a one-year contract doesn’t mean he has to pass through waivers when sent down either. We’ll get to waiver exemption in a few minutes.

The two-way contract is a NHL contract that if a player signs a two-year contract, they will make a certain amount in the NHL and a significantly less amount in the AHL. Again this does not mean that all two-way contract will be re-assigned before any one-way contract. These amounts are also prorated, so they will only count against the cap hit for the amount of time he plays in the NHL. Not the entire contract length and amount.



First things first, CapFriendly has an excellent ‘Waiver Calculator’ that shows a list of Waiver-Exempt players and explains the tool and what the ages are for players at the time of their contract signing. You just find your player you are looking for and click on them and there exemption information pops up below. This is the best way to find out if a player who has signed will need waivers or not.

Let’s explain what and how this is determined and, of course, there will be a chart.

Waiver exemption is determined by a either the number of years a player is under contract or the amount of games played. Once a player hits a specific number of games played based on their age and the amount of years since his first NHL contract, he will lose exemption and must then pass through waivers. Below is a chart to make it pretty easy to understand when a player is exempt from waivers.






Signing Age

Years from


NHL Games


Years from