Making Sense of Flyerland
Tyler J. Altemose
This guy just can't catch a break.
For over a week now I've been trying to catch up on Power Rankings. (For the record, I'm 5 weeks behind but I promise I'll get them out ASAP.) But each time I do, something noteworthy goes down in Flyerland which requires me to write about it then sit on Facebook and Twitter for the next few hours discussing it.
Naturally, today is no different.
I've seen a lot of confusion, a lot of frustrated beat writers, and lots of caps lock used throughout the internets, so I figured I would try to boil down everything down today for you and answer the questions and concerns I'm seeing the most.
Let's do this.
Step 1: Flyers claim Nick Boynton off of waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Step 2: James van Riemsdyk is sent down to the Phantoms to make room for Boynton.
But why all the confusion? Well, let me attempt to explain it further.
Because he's the perfect mold for Holmgren. He's a gritty, physical depth defenseman. Homer likes that. Also, he's cheap. His $500,000 cap hit is the lowest on the team, even lower than Bartulis (who is the second lowest at $600,000).
Furthermore, Boynton fills the void left by Bartulis who is sidelined 10-12 weeks with a shoulder injury. Although it's unknown whether he is on IR or LTIR (I can assume the former), the Flyers official website has him listed on "Injured Reserve" (I use the quotations because Laperriere is listed the same way even though he is on Long-Term Injury Reserve).
People can complain all they want about Boynton, but the fact remains that he's better than the alternative (Bartulis). An improvement was made to the team with a player who perfectly fit Homer's mold.
Why was JVR of all players sent down?
JVR was sent down for a simple reason: process of elimination. The only other player on the roster who is exempt from waivers is Gustafsson, and he needs to play tonight.
Why does Gustafsson need to play tonight? Can't Boynton?
Gustafsson needs to play as the 6th defenseman tonight because Boynton won't make it to Ottawa in time to play (although he is eligible). The team issued a statement saying he'd join the team on Monday for practice.
What does it mean to be exempt from waivers?
The difference between a player who is waiver-exempt and one who is not is simple, too. Waiver-exempt players can go from the AHL to the NHL (for example, the Phantoms to the Flyers and back again) without having to wait 24 (or 48) hours and without having to risk another team picking him up in that period of time. (I put "48" in parenthesis because if a player is placed on waivers on the weekend, the waiver period is 48 hours. Any other day it is only 24.)
Andreas Nodl is not waiver-exempt. Jody Shelley and Dan Carcillo are not waiver-exempt. The team did not want to risk losing them, so they went with the only guy they could sacrifice for just one night: JVR.
But why all these moves?
Roster size limitations. The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) holds that a team must be limited to 23 active members. That means that a team can only have 23 players who are not listed on IR or LTIR. (The Flyers technically have 25 players, but two of them--Bartulis and Laperriere-- aren't active at the moment.)
When the Flyers brought up Gustafsson yesterday, they hit the 23-man limit. When they claimed Boynton today, they hit 24 active members.
That is a no-no.
That explains why the team had to lose a guy. And, as you know, I've already explained why JVR was chosen over everyone else.
Zherdev is on waivers. Why wasn't he sent down? What's up with him?
Ah, the curious case of Nikolay Zherdev. Well, here's what's up with Nik.
Nik's agent, Jay Grossman, asked Paul Holmgren to have Nik traded because he wasn't getting the ice time he felt his client deserved (basically, Z whined to Grossman). Homer obliged, but could not find a suitor (and frankly didn't want to part ways with anyone else for the sake of humoring Grossman).
Since a trade failed, the team went with waivers. The 24-hour waiver period came and went without a claim.
Now, typically at this point a team will do one of two things:
1. They'll send the player down to their AHL-affiliate.
2. They'll release said player and let them go their merry way.
But there is a third option for teams, one the Flyers chose.
Instead of sending Zherdev down or waiving him, they kept him with the parent club. (Yes, they can do that.) They did this as an insurance policy. Since he's already on waivers, he can be traded or sent to the Phantoms or released any time the team wants (like after Monday's trade deadline, for example).
But here's the catch. If the Flyers want to hold onto him, they can. If Zherdev either:
a) plays 10 games with the Flyers or
b) stays on the team's roster for 30 calendar days
...the waivers will expire and he will be a full-fledged Flyer again. Why is this important? Because Z can clear waivers without having to go through re-entry waivers. There would be no risk of another team picking him up during that 24 (or 48) hour period.
What about Zherdev's pay?
Since he has been with the parent club (Flyers) the entire time, Nik Zherdev has been paid the same as he always has and remains eligible to play for the team.
In fact, since JVR was sent down and Betts is out with his finger injury, Zherdev is the 12th forward. He'll be playing. (So technically you can make 10 games until waivers expire 9 games instead.)
How long will JVR be a Phantom?
Just tonight. Tomorrow Gustafsson will be sent back down and JVR will be brought back up. (That's why you don't have to freak out about the JVR move, by the way.)
Will JVR play for the Phantoms tonight?
No. He'll be chillin' in the Flyers' press box tonight.
The two-way contract discussion.
I've seen a lot of people trying to explain this situation, and many of them are saying that JVR is waiver-exempt because he has a two-way contract.
First, what is a two-way contract?
Basically, a two way contract is a contract that has a really small AHL-level salary and a much larger NHL-level salary. For example, JVR has a two-way contract. His NHL-level salary (what he's paid for playing in the NHL) is $850,000 (prior to performance bonuses). But his AHL-level salary (what he's paid for playing in the NHL) is only $65,000. See the huge difference?
Now look at Danny Briere. He has a one-way contract. His NHL-level salary is $7.0M but his AHL-level salary is also the same.
So now that we know what a two-way contract is, we can assume that this is what lets players be waiver-exempt, right?
That could not be farther from the truth.
Whether a player has a one or two-way contract has absolutely no bearing on whether they are waiver-exempt. JVR is waiver-exempt with a two-way contract, but Andreas Nodl also has a two-way contract. Nodl, as I said before, is not waiver-exempt.
How do you know if a player is waiver-exempt?
The way you can tell is by a player's age, how many years (seasons) it has been since they signed in the NHL, and how many NHL games (regular and postseason) they have played. Skaters and goaltenders differ by these numbers as well.
I won't go into the nitty-gritty of what the criteria are, but just rest assured that JVR is waiver-exempt and Andreas Nodl is not.
Alas, we have finished our tour. I know this was a long read, but I can assure you that you are a wiser fan for having taken this journey through Crazytown with me.
Paul Holmgren may have confused us, he may have frustrated us, but he made all the right moves today.