NHL Waivers Explained
Waivers in the NHL is a process in which a team makes the player's rights and contracts available for the remaining teams before releasing the player or assigning them to the AHL.
The concept of Waivers dates back to 1955. They had the Intra-League Draft, similar to the Expansion draft used by the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken when they entered the league.
This would be later changed to the "waiver draft," which was in practice until the 2004-05 lockout.
Waivers allow teams to place Players on their Minor League affiliates where they can develop their skills. Teams also use it if they need to create roster space or if they need to deal with Salary Cap issues.
A player must pass through waivers(unless exempt) before getting assigned to the AHL from the NHL, and interested teams have 24 hours to claim him.
If no team does so, it is referred to as "clearing the waivers," and the team can place him in their minor league affiliates within 30 days.
Teams claiming a player off of waivers do not have to pay fees, but they must assume the player's existing contract. Once the player gets claimed off of waivers by another team, then the player must report to the team and begin playing.
Teams that want to terminate a player's contract do so by placing him on unconditional waivers. Other teams have chances to buy out the player's contract, which can only be done during a two-week window in June.
The waiver eligibility is different for skaters and goalies, and the factors determining a player's waiver status are years in the league, his age, first NHL contract, and the number of games played after signing said contract.
The conditions for the players to be exempt from the waivers according to the CBA can be seen in the figure below.
NHL Waiver Rules
The Waivers are a way of ensuring balance in the league by making sure, no teams are just hoarding skilled players by sending them to the AHL. We have provided some rules surrounding waivers below that make understanding the whole thing a bit easier.
- Once a player is placed on waivers, other teams have 24 hours to claim him.
- The team has the opportunity to remove a player from waivers before another team claims them.
- Teams can assign the players they put on waivers to the AHL only once they "clear the waivers."
- The team can choose not to place the player in the AHL.
- There is no waiver fee for teams, however, the claiming team must assume the player's contract.
- The player placed on a waiver cannot be refused to do so and is obligated to report to the team if claimed.
- If a player is claimed off of Waivers, then the team that claimed him must offer the player to the team they claimed him from before they can be traded to other teams.
- If a player is claimed by more than one team, then the team with the worst record gets the waiver priority
- The player's waiver status bears no correlation to their contract type (one-way or two-way)
- Players on entry-level contracts can be placed on waivers(unless exempt)
- Players on waivers are counted against the team's salary cap until they are either claimed by another team or assigned to the AHL