We’re still waiting for real hockey games, but there won’t be a dull day off the ice between now and the start of the NHL regular season. Monday kicks off another week and another batch of players for the waiver wire.
LD Andrew Bodnarchuk.
Bodnarchuk played 37 games in the NHL last season, being claimed off
waivers by Colorado from Columbus in January. A well-rounded if undersized
defenceman at the AHL level, he lacks a standout skill.
G Peter Budaj. The
long-time NHL’er posted a 42-14-4 record and 0.932 save percentage with the
Kings’ farm team last season. He’s probably best-suited to being a third-string
option at this point in his career, but is probably capable of providing Jonas
Gustavsson-level backup play if a team out there needs a fill-in option.
C Sam Carrick. Carrick,
age 24, has spent his entire career prior to this fall in the Toronto Maple
Leafs organization. He’s a physical forward, and the question is whether he’ll
score enough to challenge for a fourth-line job. He had 34 points in 52 AHL
games a year ago.
LD Tim Erixon. It
was a big deal back in 2011 when Erixon forced a trade from Calgary to the New
York Rangers, but in hindsight the player’s ambition exceeded his ability to
have an impact at the NHL level. He spent last season in the minors after going
to Pittsburgh in the Phil Kessel trade, and it’s a reasonable bet that at age
25 his 93 career NHL games will end up being the bulk of his career.
LD Mark Fraser. A
big, tough veteran, Mark Fraser was schooled in the New Jersey system and knows
his business in the defensive zone. Limited foot speed and ability with the
puck make it increasingly difficult for him to crack an NHL roster as he enters
his 30’s. He has played 219 NHL games but spent all of last year in the minors.
LD Cameron Gaunce. Gaunce
spent all of last season in the minors, and by the numbers at least had a
breakthrough season at age 25. He hit a career high in points (37) and
decreased his penalty minutes from 113 the season before down to just 60. He’s
played 20 NHL games but hasn’t been able to make the jump full-time.
RD Vincent Loverde. On
the surface, Loverde is a 27-year-old career AHL’er. However, he had a
career-high in points last season (32 in just 56 AHL games), he shoots right
and he has a reputation of being a smart player. That’s not entirely dissimilar
from, say, Corey Potter in the fall of 2011.
LW Stefan Matteau. Matteau
was an eyebrow-raising first-rounder of the Devils back in 2012. The 6’2”,
220-pound forward has always played a mature, competitive game, but lacked the
offensive upside to have a shot at top-six work. He played 32 games in the NHL
last season, picking up a pair of points. If he can provide even a smidgen of
offence he’ll have a career, but so far he hasn’t managed that.
LD Stuart Percy. Percy,
a first-round pick of the Maple Leafs in 2011, was somewhat surprisingly cut
loose this past summer by Toronto. He’s a two-way defenceman with a range of
skills and is still only 23 years of age.
RD Chad Ruhwedel. Ruhwedel
has played 33 career NHL games, but just one of those came last season and at
the age of 26 this undersized puckmover runs the risk of being labeled a career
C Jordan Schroeder. The
right-shooting Schroeder was a first-round pick in 2009, with the Vancouver
Canucks betting his offensive acumen would make up for his lack of size. He has
turned into a pretty decent scorer at the AHL level, but has just 27 points in
107 NHL games and turned 26 this past week. His contract is reasonable enough that he
might be an option in a 13th forward slot; he’s been a reasonably good
possession player over his career and right-shooting centres generally have
LD Viktor Svedberg. The
massive (6’8”, 238 pounds) Svedberg brings to mind Zdeno Chara, or less
charitably, Boris Valabik. He spent 27 games on the Blackhawks’ roster last
season and even found his way into some playoff action. He isn’t fast but has
some ability with the puck and given his age (25) and the organization he’s
with now might be attractive to a general manager with a hole to fill on the
LW Chris Terry. Terry
has spent most of the last two seasons in the NHL with Carolina, scoring 31
points over 125 games played. He’s not particularly big or brilliant
defensively, and his scoring hasn’t been good enough to keep him in the majors.
LW Garrett Wilson. Just
call him Jean-Francois Jacques. The 6’2” Wilson plays a rugged style of hockey
and found his way into 29 NHL contests last season. He has never recorded a
point in any of his 34 regular season games, though he did manage a playoff
assist for Florida last spring.
The two possible exceptions for me are Schroeder and Svedberg. Lots of teams like a spare forward to play centre, and right-shooting centres are more valuable still. Lots of other teams like to have a massive body they can trot out as their No. 6 defenceman for games in California. That gives either of those players some small chance of landing on another club’s roster.
RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS
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