Interesting bit of news (or possibly just rumor) surfaced last night, when Renaud Lavoie, of French-language Canadian sports network RDS, reported that the NHL and NHLPA had agreed that veteran players on two-way contracts who are eligible for waivers would be allowed to play in the AHL, in the event of an NHL lockout. According to Lavoie (with help from Google Translate), NHL clubs have until this Saturday, the 15th, which is the date of the official expiration of the current NHL CBA, to place on waivers any players on two-way deals who their NHL clubs want to be able to play in the AHL during a potential lockout.
This report remains unconfirmed as of this writing, and if it is true, the accord would contradict a persistent rumor that has been prevalent recently in AHL circles. The whispers, also unconfirmed as far as I know, have been that all waiver-eligible players would be locked out and not allowed to come to the AHL, regardless of their contract status. Such was not the case during the 2004-05 lockout, when numerous waiver-eligible veterans, like the Wolf Pack’s class-of-the-league goaltending tandem of Jason LaBarbera and Steve Valiquette, who were on two-way contracts had fine years in the AHL.
From an AHL perspective, you have to hope that Lavoie is right. If the likes of Kris Newbury, Chad Kolarik, Brandon Segal, to name a
few potential Whale vets, were not allowed to see AHL duty, that would leave a lot of skilled players on the sidelines across the league, and would make for some extremely young AHL rosters. A waiver agreement would not help Wade Redden, whose one-way contract is scheduled to earn him $6.5 million again this season, but the waiver-eligible two-way deal guys in the organization would certainly be a big boost to the Whale if they are made available. In addition to Newbury, Kolarik and Segal, that group includes, I believe, Mike Vernace, Sean Collins and Logan Pyett.
Eminger re-ups with Rangers
Interesting that player signings continue only four days before a lockout may be declared, but that is the case. And the Rangers yesterday signed defenseman Steve Eminger to a new deal, which TSN is reporting to be a one-year contract worth $750,000. That leaves restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto as the only unsigned Ranger from last year’s end-of-the-season NHL roster.
Eminger was the odd man out in the Ranger defensive rotation for much of last season, playing only 42 games and averaging 13:16 of ice time during the regular season and seeing only four games of playoff duty at 6:48 per game. With the big club having a hard time getting Del Zotto signed, though, Michael Sauer’s health in serious question and Tim Erixon having been traded in the Rick Nash deal, the Rangers clearly felt that bringing Eminger back was important for depth. Right now it looks like he and Stu Bickel are 5-6 on the defensive depth chart, minus Del Zotto, and it will be interesting to see if someone like Vernace, Collins, Pyett, or maybe even a youngster like a Dylan McIlrath, can push Eminger for one of those spots.