Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
It’s that time of the year, teams are making some cuts and some tough choices as rosters trim down. There are a lot of factors that go into the decisions as to what players are assigned to what teams; performance is a key factor, but not the only one. Players with junior eligibility, waiver exempt and European options are all important pieces of the puzzle. Players that can play in junior get their contract to slide, meaning it does not count against the 50 player contract limit. Same thing for players in Europe, meaning the team retains their rights but can play other options on their AHL farm team. What this all means to fantasy keeper leagues is players assigned to junior or Europe are essentially gone for the season and will not be able to contribute to your teams this year at all.
Players that have aged out of junior and are on their ELC are minor eligible and do not need to pass through waivers to move between the NHL and the AHL. These players may be called up to the NHL at any point during the season and returned any number of times. Just because a prospect starts his pro career in the AHL doesn’t mean he won’t play in the NHL at some point that season, think Thomas Chabot.
Where you run into trouble is when players that are waiver eligible that clear waivers are less likely to return because they need to pass through waivers again. For a more detailed breakdown of the waiver rules Cap Friendly has a helpful Waiver FAQ page.
If you own a prospect and want to know if he is waiver exempt there is a tool for that on Cap Friendly
How does this apply to players on waivers over the past few days?
All players on waivers yesterday have cleared including goalie Jared Coreau
Here is the list of players on waivers today:
Let’s look at some of the big names on that list
Malcolm Subban BOS a 2012 first round has had his struggles. He had a few looks in the NHL and has not looked good. His AHL career has been ok, not bad, not great. The word is he has played well at Bruins camp but ultimately lost out on the backup role and now the team risks losing him for nothing. Given Coreau cleared waivers yesterday my guess is Subban also clears and will play the year on Providence again
Kerby Rychel, TOR is a prospect that in my opinion is highly overrated. Rychel is the son of former NHL player and Windsor Spitfires GM Warren Rychel. Kerby had a great junior career and is a big, strong winger with a heavy shot. Rychel led the Marlies in scoring last year with 19 goals and 52 points in 73 games, but his skating and acceleration are not at NHL level and I suspect he also clears waivers.
Don’t count on any of these players to be claimed and chances of seeing any of these players in the NHL this year are not good…
Looking beyond the waiver wire there are some more prospects of note.
Top prospects being assigned to the AHL include Thomas Chabot (OTT) Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM), Oskar Lindblom (PHI) and Nikolai Goldobin (VAN). As mentioned any or all of these players are likely to see NHL games this season…
The Florida Panthers have loaned two players to their European clubs, Linus Hultsrtom and Sebastian Repo were two roster hopefuls that will play in Europe all season and will not be fantasy relevant this year. It was a long shot for either to make the opening roster, but if they stayed in the AHL they would have been available for a recall and could have started making the adjustment to North America. Their assignment to Europe is concerning for fantasy owners, especially for Hultstrom who is now 24-years-old…
Toronto prospect Carl Grundstrom has been loaned back to his SHL club team Frolunda. Grundstrom played some AHL games after his SHL season ended last year and again in preseason games recently. Grundstrom can be an impact player either offensively or physically as he has a nose for the net and a diligent forechecker. He likely makes the transition to North America full time next year, and is well worth stashing on your prospect roster in keeper leagues…
Chris Lee was released from his PTO with the LA Kings recently. Lee may not be a prospect at 36-years-old but after appearing with Team Canada in the last World Championship the KHL veteran popped up on some fantasy radars. Lee is free to sign with any team in any league and I am rooting for him to still earn a NHL contract and play in his first career NHL game, but it looks unlikely at this point unfortunately…
The curious case of Olli Juolevi. The Vancouver Canucks cut Juolevi from their training camp roster and we are still waiting on word as to where he will be assigned. I am no expert on transfer agreements between the CHL, NHL and Europe but my understanding is Vancouver would prefer to send him to Europe to play pro hockey. His CHL rights are owned by the London Knights who would need to allow his transfer and would be financially compensated should that be the case. London can carry two import players and currently only have Jesper Bratt on the roster as they hold a spot for Juolevi. The Knights are not likely to be motivated by the financial gains of loaning Juolevi to Europe and would prefer to add the elite defenseman to their roster making them a stronger contender.
In a similar situation the Columbus Blue Jackets cut sniper Vitali Abramov and have assigned him to the QMJHL with Gatineau. Gatineau is in a rebuilding state and it is expected the potential CHL scoring leader will be traded to a contender to expedite the rebuild. Abramov would also be better served jumping to pro, but like Juolevi he is an in-between player not eligible for the AHL and not much to gain from another year of junior…
Players with junior eligibility that remain with their NHL teams include
Kailer Yamamoto, EDM – So impressive and skilled but eventually will be back in the WHL
Pierre-Luc Dubois, CBJ – After going back to the Q last year he was slow to start but found his stride mid-season. Dubois should stick with the team for at least a nine game audition. The rest is up to him to stick.
Victor Mete, MTL – Few Habs prospects have impressed outside of Mete. Undersized, yes but an exceptional skater and can carry the puck in transition.
Logan Brown, OT T – injury to Colin White to start the season opens an opportunity for the Sens 2016 first round pick. He will eventually be back in the OHL.
So how do you take all this information and make it apply to your fantasy roster or drafts? Knowing where a player has been assigned to, what his waiver status may be or league recall options are is critical in one year leagues, and for your own recall options for your fantasy team.
If you can’t keep a player and he is assigned to the CHL (Abramov) or Europe (Grundstrom) go ahead and drop him now.
If a player clears waivers and is sent to the AHL, he likely won’t be back.
If a player does not need waivers and is assigned to the AHL he could be back any day.
These rules may be very impactful for prospects with games played limits for minor eligibility as well.
Good luck with your fantasy hockey season.