During the leadup to the 2020-21 season, as teams were waiving players in order to get down to 23 roster spots, I mentioned a player named Rudolfs Balcers: “He’s a talented offensive winger when healthy, and posted 16-20-36 in 33 AHL games one year ago. Good shot, responsible. This could be a steal.”
Balcers was claimed by the San Jose Sharks, played in 41 games during the 2020-21 season (8-9-17) and may have a career in front of him. He is 24. His possession and scoring rates were solid and his rel rates (all of this five on five) were top drawer. $1.55 million this and next season.
Waivers is a double-edged sword. If you make the right claim, it can benefit the roster for free. On the other hand, it’s possible to lose a player who is valued by the organization. Edmonton may be up against it this fall.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Dylan Holloway headlines new arrivals for Bakersfield Condors in 2021-22
- Lowetide: Will the Ethan Bear trade be the latest shortsighted move that haunts the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans should expect more trades and a deep playoff run this season
- Lowetide: How much playing time will Evan Bouchard get with the Oilers this coming season?
- Lowetide: What are reasonable expectations for the 2021-22 Oilers?
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ‘perfect lines’ for next season?
- Lowetide: The Oilers and value contracts. Three now, two later
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Darnell Nurse to a massive 8-year contract extension
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
- Lowetide: 8 unsigned free agents who could help the Oilers
- DNB: Rating the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- Lowetide: The future may come early for three Oilers prospect defencemen
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason, 4.0
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Warren Foegele acquisition possible key to improving the Oilers third line
- DNB: Ethan Bear on being traded, his time with the Oilers
- DNB: Ethan Bear out, Cody Ceci in, Tyson Barrie stays
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
There is no one among the ‘certain Oilers’ who is likely to be on waivers this fall. Several veterans could clear because of cap (Mikko Koskinen, Zack Kassian) but that’s extremely unlikely. Evan Bouchard is not waiver eligible, I also doubt that will come into play as the club tries to get down to the 23-man limit.
Ryan McLeod, Dmitri Samorukov, Filip Berglund and Stuart Skinner are all ineligible for waivers, but Kailer Yamamoto will need to be protected. That’s 18.
- Stalock probably hits waivers unless there’s an injury to Smith or Koskinen.
- Slater Koekkoek is likely the No. 7 defenseman, meaning William Lagesson will be eligible for waivers.
- Ryan McLeod and Devin Shore should make the team, but are not locks to make it.
- Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Brendan Perlini and Kyle Turris are vulnerable. There are two spots available, although it’s also possible the club goes with eight defensemen or a 22-man roster if cap compliance requires it.
Seth Griffith is waiver eligible, and has been claimed three times: October 2016 by Toronto from his drafting team (Boston); November 16 by the Florida Panthers and then he was re-claimed by the Maple Leafs January 2017.
WAIVERS ON CURRENT NHL ROSTERS
I believe this is an under used area of procurement, Balzers represents one of nine waiver players currently on NHL rosters: Alex Stalock (Edmonton); Eric Comrie (Winnipeg reclaim); Mark Friedman (Pittsburgh); Drake Caggiula (Buffalo); Gustav Forsling (Florida); Noah Juulsen (Florida); Victor Mete (Ottawa); Anton Forsberg (Ottawa).
The Oilers don’t lose many prospects to waivers, but did lose Forsberg at a sensitive time one year ago. The last drafted Oilers I recall being lost to waivers were Rob Schremp (who went 17-30-47 in 89 games with the NY Islanders over two seasons) and Taylor Chorney.
I think Oilers fans have some reason to be concerned heading into the waiver period this year. Tyler Benson delivered solid offense during his time with the Bakersfield Condors, scouts would have seen him making those terrific passes and they can read the scoring race (he finished No. 7 in league scoring as a rookie, then No. 75 and finally No. 3 overall this season).
I think Benson could be claimed on waivers. Marody might be more vulnerable if a team sees him as a RH center who can play in the NHL (Condors moved him to RW this past season). Marody is a more dynamic offensive player than Benson and of course that has value.
Lagesson is an inexpensive defenseman and they always have value, as reflected in the percentage of waiver pickups on that list above (four of nine).
My guess? Injuries find a way for Edmonton to retain at least one of these names during the waiver period. I’ll have a look for potential Balcers this year in the coming weeks.