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The Canadiens safeguard waiver eligible players with one-way deals

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The Habs battle waiver eligibility with a financial strategy

Ottawa Senators v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Losing Mark Barberio and Micheal Condon on waivers last season was a harsh reminder for Marc Bergevin. What he considers depth may be worthy of another team’s starting lineup.

A good problem to have, no doubt, but if you start losing assets for nothing then it becomes a worse problem that you would hope to avoid. Bergevin is a ‘fool me once’ kind of general manager who learns from his faults and adapts to correct the future. He put in place a strategy that would allow him to hedge his bets in the future when he is shuffling his experienced depth around between the NHL and the AHL.

Next season a variety of depth players will be waiver eligible: Charles Hudon, Daniel Carr, Jacob de La Rose, Chris Terry, Zach Redmond, Byron Froese, Joe Morrow, and Peter Holland. They all form a group of players for the Canadiens who will probably be called into action at some point during the season to play in the NHL. However they are likely to begin the season with the Laval Rocket, as the Canadiens already have 22 signed players on their main roster roster .

In order to safeguard these assets Bergevin employed a tactic that only a team with deep pockets like the Canadiens can afford: one-way contracts.

A one-way contract assures that the player will be paid his full NHL salary, regardless of which league he plays in, making that asset unattractive on the waiver wire for poorer teams or teams with AHL budgets to manage. Normally players who are playing in the AHL only get paid a much cheaper minor league salary as part of a two-way contract, which pays out relative to the league the player is in.

In the case of Hudon, Holland, and Froese, they signed two-year deals, with the second year being a one-way contract, making those contracts even less attractive on the waiver wire, given the lack of trade appetite for a borderline prospect with a large price tag and term.

Carr and Redmond are in the second year of their two-year, one-way contract.

The only recently signed player who did not receive the protection of a one-way contract is Matt Taormina, who signed a two-year, two-way contract. As last season’s AHL Defenceman of the Year, perhaps he hopes that if the Canadiens put him on waivers to assign him to the AHL another team would want to take a shot with him. That is certainly the player’s prerogative, but due to the two-year term teams may shy away from him.

Salary breakdown for depth players
capfriendly.com

It’s an interesting strategy, and one of the few tools available to hedge the odds on waiver-wire eligible players. It’s certainly not a full-proof plan since teams might elect to keep the player they pick off waivers in the NHL, so they would have to pay them regardless. In addition richer teams like the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs could afford these players and would pluck them off of waivers should they find the need, but they probably already have their depth filled up by season’s start since they can afford to go shopping during the off-season.

In addition, it’s hard to imagine that any of these players would be averse to getting paid an NHL salary regardless of their situation as well, therefore a one-way contract really is a win-win scenario for the players and the organization in this particular situation.

And so with that said we have a pretty good idea of who will form the core of the Laval Rocket: a veteran group of players, among the best in the AHL, who could jump into the Canadiens line-up at a moments notice.