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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

Waivers and Wavering

This is Jujhar Khaira. For the first time in his pro career, he will be eligible for waivers this fall as the Oilers (and other NHL teams) cut down to their final 23-man rosters. I believe Khaira will make the big club, he’s a big man who plays a rugged game and his offensive output improved over three AHL seasons. There may come a time when the organization has to make a decision on Khaira but there’s a good chance Todd McLelland and Peter Chiarelli see the big forward as a legit option for this roster well into the future.

There are decisions in all 31 NHL cities just like the one above that will involve dozens of waiver eligible players this fall. A few of them should have enough value to be considered for pickup. Here’s my list.

  1. L Josh Leivo, Toronto Maple Leafs. The youth in Toronto gets a lot of hype but it’s deserved. Men like Josh Leivo are going to lose their jobs to bona fide talents, leaving an astute NHL team the opportunity to slide in and make a trade of waiver claim. Leivo has played 41 NHL games (half a season) and has scored nine goals and 18 points. He’s done it while averaging 11 minutes a night! Source
  2. RD Tim Heed, San Jose Sharks. He ripped up the AHL last season (55gp, 14-42-56) after spending several seasons as a regular in the Swedish elite league. He’s 26, I fully expect the Sharks to play him in the NHL this season but Heed is waiver eligible and someone (Oilers or anyone) should take this guy and put him on the power play. Cheap like borscht, too, his contract is $650,000.
  3. RD Ryan Sproul, Detroit Red Wings. He spent the entire year on Detroit’s roster but ran into injury issues and played just 27 games. He’s a big (6.04, 211) defenseman and the injury (ACL) may keep him on IR to begin the year. 
  4. R Justin Auger, Los Angeles Kings. If you look at the boxcars, Auger isn’t going to raise an eyebrow. However, the big winger (6.07, 229) has an interesting AHL resume. I don’t think the Oilers have room for him but I’ll be interested to see if another NHL team takes a chance on an intriguing player.
  5. L Hunter Shinkaruk, Calgary Flames. Calgary’s procurement system is producing good players at every turn, perhaps one of the reasons we don’t hear much about Shinkaruk. He was drafted and then traded by Vancouver but that doesn’t mean he can’t play. Shinkaruk’s 12 goals and 12 first assists give him a strong primary scoring number. I think he might surprise.
  6. L Charles Hudon, Montreal Canadiens. There was a time when the idea of exposing a talented French Canadian skill forward to waivers would be unthinkable, but Montreal management no longer worries over trivialities. Too bad, in this case, Hudon is talented if small winger who could find an NHL home via waivers.
  7. RD Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders. If I live to be 1,000 I will not understand the New York Islanders. The organization seems to use a ‘planned fail’ for prospects in order to curtail second contract cap numbers. Strange. I expect Pulock will make the roster but they work in mysterious ways in Brooklyn.

Khaira makes this Oilers team without a throw in my opinion, NHL teams would not hesitate to grab him if available on the waiver wire. I’m intrigued by names like Heed and Pulock, who would address a need and who are young enough to grow with the McDavid Oilers.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I would think that Khaira makes the Oilers – while I never expect him to be more than a fourth liner as he simply doesn’t have the offence, I think with his speed and size he can develop in to an elite 4C with PK ability – it would be great if he could have a strong year and replace Letestu as 4C next season.

    The Oil may go with 8 d-men to start the year and only carry one extra forward. On the assumption that JP is absolutely on the team, I would think they would subject Pakarinan to waivers over Kharia.

    I believe McLellan like Pak, however, I think JJ has more a potential future with this team.

  • OriginalPouzar

    If Pulock is available that’s a no-brainer cliam.

    Josh L. is intriguing as well.

    If one or both of these guys are put on waivers, I don’t imagine them getting through to the Oilers slot – correct me if I’m wrong but the waiver claim order starts in the inverse order of last season’s standings putting us in the bottom 10, for the first time in a very long time.

    • OriginalPouzar

      There isn’t a reasonable chance that Kailer will play any regular season NHL games this year.

      He might not even play any next year.

      This year I expect Yamamoto to star in Penticton, dominate the WHL and then star in the WJHC in BUF – continue with a great off-season of training ready to turn pro next year and compete for a roster spot.

      Great prospect but he’s going to need some time.

      • TruthHurts98

        He needs to get a bit stronger and put on some more muscle too. The NHL is a whole different animal and spending at least another year in the WHL will be crucial for his development and confidence IMO. If he tears it up this coming year maybe he’s only a year away. I hope the Oilers don’t rush him and I’m pretty confident they won’t. This team is finally a legit Cup contender! How long since we’ve been able to say that?!?

      • FISTO Siltanen

        Yup. This is 100% right.

        For the few articles and some comments I’ve seen suggesting he might be good enough to play in the NHL next season – that comment is for those posters/commenters.

        I’ve also said that due to the Draisaitl deal Yamamoto needs to stay down in junior for as long as possible so the Oilers have more ELC coverage for Leon’s deal.

        Not once have I suggested here Yamamoto should stay up in the NHL.

        • OriginalPouzar

          Absolutely, 100%.

          As we know, its going to be hugely important to have value contracts going forward – young forwards on their ELCs (or 2nd contracts) that outperform their cap hits.

          Even if Yamamoto can tread water in the NHL this year, we simply cannot burn a year of that ELC unless he’s ready to be a consistent producer in the top 6 which is extrmely unlikely this year.

          We need him to give us at least 2 years of value on that ELC (hopefully 3 but he may need the AHL next year) – its imperative.