The Hurricanes made their first round of roster cuts this afternoon by sending forwards Riley Nash and Jeremy Welsh to the club's AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Nash was a long-shot to make the team, but many expected Welsh to get a look at the third line center spot. He is going to have to wait until later in the season to get his shot there now. Some may say that neither player was given much of a chance since they were sent down three days in, but the Checkers were in need of at least two forwards for their game on Wednesday and training camp is only a week long to begin with.
One of the reasons why Nash and Welsh in particular were sent down is because neither player has to be exposed to waivers before returning to the AHL, as they haven't been under an NHL contract for enough years. Once a player is placed on waivers, any other team can put a claim on him and add him to their roster. Waivers are put into place to give everyone a chance at playing in the NHL and to prevent teams from stockpiling talent at the lower levels. Sometimes teams can find hidden gems on the waiver wire like the New York Islanders did with Michael Grabner a couple years ago, but most of the time, players on waivers aren't anything terribly valuable to an NHL club. They are a good low-risk option for teams looking for cheap talent, though.
A player's waiver eligibility relates to how many years he is under an NHL contract and how many games he played, and both Nash and Welsh fit the guidelines to be waiver exempt. In other words, it was easier for the Hurricanes to send down these two because they can be called up and sent down at anytime without much risk. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with almost everyone else the Hurricanes called up from Charlotte, as the Canes could risk losing a key player from the Checkers for nothing if they decide to send them down to the AHL before the season. With only 23 roster spots available and 26 bodies in camp, they are almost certainly going to have to take this risk.
After the jump, we will go over which players in the Hurricanes camp are waiver eligible and how likely it is that they might be claimed by another team.
First, here are the players who are exempt from waivers.
Dalpe is in his final year of being waiver exempt and would be the "safe" option to send down when it comes time for another round of roster cuts. It's hard to imagine that Dalpe will get sent down, though after how well he has been playing in Charlotte. His ability to play both center and wing gives him an edge over some of the competition, as well but it will all come down to how he performs in camp. Word is that he was playing on Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner's line during the scrimmage earlier today, which means the team is giving him a look at top-six minutes as a winger. My initial though with Welsh being sent down was that it would open the door for Dalpe to center the third line but the team has Jussi Jokinen there for now. The option is always open if Dalpe can stay on the team, though. Dalpe is the easiest player to send down in terms of waiver eligibility but the Hurricanes may not care about that if his strong play continues.
Murphy can't even go to the AHL if he doesn't make the team, so he is safe from waivers and can return to Kitchener for the rest of the year.
Zach Boychuk, Waiver Claim Risk: High
This is Boychuk's "last shot" with the Hurricanes according to many people because he is no longer waiver exempt and the team can't just call him up and down as they please like they did in previous years. Boychuk may have not turned out to be the player that everyone hoped he would be, but there are going to be some teams looking to acquire his services if they can get him for nothing off waivers. He leads the Checkers in goals and points and is scoring at near a point-per-game rate in Charlotte. That's going to be a big hole to fill if the Canes end up losing out on him on waivers. Tuomo Ruutu's injury leaves a spot open in the top-six, so all Boychuk has to do right now is take advantage of the opportunity. He did so today by scoring a goal in the scrimmage. He seems like the type of player that most teams claim off waivers; a high draft pick with loads of potential who has still yet to put it together. I'd be willing to bet that some team will take a shot at him if he becomes available.
Drayson Bowman, Waiver Claim Risk: High
Bowman proved himself to be a useful checking line player in the 37 games he played last year and he still possesses some top-six potential. The Hurricanes didn't waive him to send him to Charlotte before the lockout specifically because teams were interested in him and they didn't want to lose him for nothing. This leads me to believe that teams are still interested in Bowman and he could end up getting claimed if he doesn't make the Hurricanes out of camp. The coaching staff seems to like him, so this may not end up being a problem but he may end up getting lost in the numbers game with so many bodies in camp.
Bobby Sanguinetti, Waiver Claim Risk: Medium
Sanguinetti has established himself as a solid offensive-defenseman in the AHL but what he can do at the next level is still unknown. He has potential to play in the top-four but there is a good chance that he ends up being nothing more than a 6th or 7th D at the NHL level. Some teams may look at his AHL track record and take a shot at him if he is available on waivers. especially if they are in need of defensive depth. That being said, defensive depth is also a need for the Canes, so they may just end up keeping Sanguinetti when all is said and done. The risk of him getting claimed is lower than it is for Boychuk & Bowman, though because there are going to be a lot of players on the waiver wire later in the week and he may end up getting lost in the shuffle.
Brett Sutter, Waiver Claim Risk: Low
Sutter has had to pass through waivers a couple times before in the past and he managed to get from Raleigh to Charlotte with no harm done. He might be the captain of the Checkers and an importance piece to that team, but he's really nothing more than a fourth liner/injury fill-in at the NHL level. Teams won't be chomping a the bit to acquire his services unless they desperately need someone for their fourth line.
Tim Wallace, Waiver Claim Risk: Medium
I wanted to put this under "low" since Wallace doesn't provide much more than fourth line depth, but the Lightning actually acquired him off waivers from the Islanders last year, so he has been claimed before. Wallace has been good in Charlotte, so losing him would be a significant blow but I'm sure his contributions with the Hurricanes would be replaceable considering his past history in the NHL. Teams may be interested in him if they want size and grit for their fourth line, though.
The way I see it, the Hurricanes have room for three more players if they put Ruutu on LTIR, which leaves room for one defenseman and two forwards. At least two players are going to have to pass through waivers and we will just have to wait and see what happens to them after that.