What Are Waivers and How Do They Affect the Wild Roster?

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Today, four players from the Minnesota Wild training camp were put on waivers to be assigned to the Iowa Wild. Dakota Mermis, Jujhar Khaira, Vinni Lettieri, and Nic Petan. Why did the Wild put them on waivers? Won’t someone claim them? How come Sammy Walker wasn’t placed on waivers? And what does this mean for the opening night roster?

What are waivers?

To make it as simple as possible, putting a player on waivers is a 24-hour holding period before assigning them to an AHL affiliate team. (There are also unconditional waivers for contract termination purposes, but most of the time, it is just regular waivers.) This is a way to prevent NHL teams from hiding good players down in the AHL just to pull them up as a ringer. It helps to balance out the league and make things more fair by offering the players to other teams before reassigning them to the AHL. This article has a very clear and more extensive explanation.

How does a player get claimed off of waivers?

During the 24-hour waivers period, teams can put in a claim on a player. Until November 1st, the claims are processed in reverse order of the NHL standings at the end of the last season. After November 1st, the claim order goes in reverse order of the current standings. If a team claims a player off of waivers and later wants to trade that player, they must first offer them to any other teams who tried to claim them off of waivers.

Why would the Wild put these players on waivers?

The salary cap. The Wild have opted not to carry a thirteenth forward at the start of the season. Going without that extra player allows them to accrue some cap space to be able to pull a player up in case of injury. As it stands, the Wild would not be able to have anyone making over $800k (like Adam Beckman or Walker) added to the roster because they simply make too much. 

Other players like Lettieri and Khaira make under that mark and could be added to the roster, but the Wild have decided against that. The nice thing about having the AHL team located in Des Moines is that it is only a short drive away. If an injury happens, it will not take long for a replacement to get to St. Paul.

Why did the Wild put these players on waivers now?

Right now, teams are fresh and ready to play. While there may be a few injured players, teams are able to pull from their prospects instead of looking around the league for a replacement. Right now, these four Wild players can be put on waivers with a safe assumption that they will not be claimed by another team. 

Once these players clear waivers and are assigned to Iowa, they can subsequently be called back up. When they are sent back to Iowa, they will not have to be put through waivers unless they’ve played ten games with the Minnesota Wild or been “up” for 30 days. Clearing Khaira, Lettieri, Mermis, and Petan through waivers now means they won’t need to go back through waivers for a while.

How come Sammy Walker didn’t have to go through waivers?

He is currently exempt from waivers. A player is exempt until they reach a certain number of games played in the NHL. It is also determined by when a player signed their first NHL contract. This is also different for goalies versus skaters. Walker has been signed to an NHL contract for one year and has played nine games in the league. He will be exempt until he’s been on an NHL contract for two more years (through 2025-26) or until he’s played 51 more games at the NHL level, whichever comes first. Here is the chart for determining when a player’s exemption ends. It can be found by clicking here and downloading the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA (NHL Player’s Association.)

What’s the opening night roster?

The opening night lineup for the Minnesota Wild will get a dress rehearsal at the last preseason game on Saturday against the Dallas Stars.

As it stands, here are the assumed lines for opening night. Each returning forward and defenseman’s name has a linked article about their upcoming season. Click and read through what each needs to focus on this season, along with a brushup on their strengths and weaknesses.

KaprizovHartmanZuccarello

BoldyEriksson EkJohansson

Foligno – Rossi – Gaudreau

Maroon – DewarDuhaime

SpurgeonMiddleton

BrodinFaber

Merill Addison 

Gustavsson

Fleury

As of now, the only extra player they will carry is Goligoski.

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