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A complete guide to the Canadiens’ waiver requirements for the 2018-19 season

Which players risk exposure before they can make their way to the AHL?

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

The NHL waiver exemption rules, as with anything in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, can be onerous, wordy, and a chore to work through. Thankfully, there are sites like CapFriendly that can break down the rules to simplify the regulations on waiver exception into Coles Notes versions.

In very basic terms, a player has five years of waiver exemption from signing his entry-level contract at age 18, or four years of waiver exemption from signing at age 19, or 160 NHL games, whichever comes first. The majority of players see their NHL contracts slide at age 18 and 19 as they complete their junior careers, delaying the start of their entry-level deals. There are exceptions, asterisks, and disclaimers to that rule, but that is the general procedure.

Undrafted players from 20 to 23-years of age have three years of waiver exemption, but must sign entry-level contracts of various lengths..

It’s getting convoluted again, isn’t it? Here a table to simplify it.

With that initial information, right away we can confirm that bubble NHL veteran players such as Byron Froese, Matt Taormina, and Nicolas Deslauriers, restricted free agents Kerby Rychel, Rinat Valiev, Jacob de la Rose, and Daniel Carr, and unrestricted free agents Adam Cracknell and Chris Terry would all need to clear waivers before being assigned to the AHL’s Laval Rocket (with some needing new contracts first).

AHL-contracted players, it’s worth noting, do not have to clear NHL waivers, since they are ineligible to play in the NHL in the first place. So no concerns for T.J. Melancon, Adam Plant, or Morgan Adams-Moisan who will spend the season in the minor leagues under their current deals.

There are a few players, however, who are still considered prospects and have reached their waiver exemption expiry, which will complicate things for the Montreal Canadiens organization, as they’ll need to decide what to do with these players and if they are willing to expose them to waivers in order to assign them to the AHL to continue their development.

Michael McCarron

McCarron signed his entry-level contract at 18, but that contract slid for a couple of seasons while hencontinued his junior career to completion. He made his pro debut at the age of 20, which meant that regardless of whether he played in the NHL or stayed in the AHL all season, the 2015-16 would count as his third year of waiver exemption.

McCarron has now played three seasons, completing his three-year entry level contract, and even though he’s played only 70 NHL games, he will be waiver eligible starting next season as it’s been five years since he signed his contract.

2018-19 contract status: Restricted Free Agent

Jeremy Grégoire

Grégoire had a great season for Laval last year, but has yet to taste any NHL action. He first signed his entry-level contract at 19, a year later than McCarron, and the contract slid in 2014-15 as he completed his junior career. He has now played out the three years of his contract, which coincides with his four seasons of waivers exemption. Starting next season, he too is waiver eligible.

2018-19 contract status: Restricted Free Agent

Brett Lernout

Let’s start diving into some variances now, going straight to the most convoluted case.

Lernout signed his entry-level contract as a 19-year-old in December 2014, but because he’s considered a ‘late birthday’ (between September 15th and December 31st) by the NHL, his actual contract signing age is considered to be 18, giving him five years of waiver exemption.

He made his professional debut with the St. John’s IceCaps for the 2015-16 season, as a 19-year old according to the NHL (age on September 15th), and as a 20-year old according to the AHL (age on December 31st). What this essentially meant was that Lernout’s contract was able to slide by one year because he didn’t play the 10 required games at the NHL level to burn a year off of his contract.

Putting it all together, despite Lernout having one more season on his entry-level contract, his waiver exemption expired after five years, and he too will be waiver eligible next season.

2018-19 contract status: Entry-level contract

Nikita Scherbak

Just like Lernout, Scherbak is also considered a ‘late birthday’ player, so despite completing three seasons of professional hockey, he also has one more season left on his entry-level contract due to the slide rule. Scherbak as well will be waiver eligible.

2018-19 contract status: Entry-level contract

Tom Parisi

As we’ve seen, the rules vary slightly for players who sign their entry-level contracts at a later age than 18. There are relatively fewer exemption years allowed, as shown in the table at the beginning. In Tom Parisi’s case, he signed his entry-level contract at 23 years of age after completing his NCAA career. At that age, there are only three years of waiver exemption from the signing of the entry-level contract, which can only be two years in length. So Parisi’s contract is now ended and he is a restricted free agent, and he is entering his final year of NHL waiver exemption, with the Canadiens organization or elsewhere.

2018-19 contract status: Restricted Free Agent

Markus Eisenschmid

Seems like Eisenschmid has been around with the Canadiens AHL farm team for a while now, but the undrafted forward spent the first year and a half in St. John’s on an AHL contract. He didn’t sign his first NHL entry-level contract until January 2016, which was considered his 22-year-old season. If the Canadiens had signed him in December 2015 they would’ve had to offer him a three-year entry-level contract.

So this contract is expired, but since it’s only been two years since he signed his deal, he is waiver exempt for one more season.

2018-19 contract status: Restricted Free Agent


Rules very slightly for waiver exemption for goaltenders

Charlie Lindgren

Lindgren burned a year off of his two-year entry-level contract, which he signed it at 22 years old, when he played a single game at the tail-end of the 2015-16 season. Goaltenders signed at 22 years of age have four years of exemption, different from the rules for skaters shown above.

So even though Charlie Lindgren will be starting his third pro contract and fourth pro season, he remains waiver exempt for another year.

2018-19 contract status: Extended

Zachary Fucale

With the rules changing slightly for goaltenders, as it is six years after signing an entry-level contract at the age of 18 rather than five, Fucale has now completed his three year entry-level contract. It’s been five years since signing his contract, but he will still be waiver exempt for another season. He of course awaits a new contract as well.

2018-19 contract status: Restricted Free Agent

Everyone else is waiver exempt because they are relatively young in the Canadiens organization, including second-year-pros Noah Juulsen, Antoine Waked, Jeremiah Addison, Simon Bourque, Victor Mete, and Michael McNiven, and third-year-pro Daniel Audette.

All the rookies coming in to Laval — Hayden Verbeek, Alexandre Alain, Jake Evans, Michael Pezzetta, William Bitten, and Lukas Vejdemo — are also exempt. Should Vejdemo opt for Europe rather than the AHL, it would still count towards a pro year towards waivers eligibility.