"Clearing" Up The Waivers Rules Regarding Sabres' McNabb

There has been much talk surrounding Buffalo Sabres rookie Brayden McNabb coming up on game number ten tomorrow night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins, and him having to clear waivers to be sent back to Rochester of the AHL, should the Sabres choose, or be forced, to.

To clarify, McNabb DOES NOT have to clear waivers if the Sabres choose to return him to Rochester. He is exempt due to experience, or lack thereof.

So we’re all on the same page here, I am, once and for all, going to clear this confusing rule up.

Exempt Due to Experience

“This is the meat and potatoes of determining waiver eligibility. Three key factors determine whether a player is waiver eligible; age, years of experience, and # of games played..

Age is defined as the age of the player when he signs his entry-level contract with an NHL club. This is used to determine the thresholds for the players’ waiver eligibility. The thresholds are the number of years from signing a professional contract, and the number of professional games played.

Depending on the age as determined above, a player is waiver eligible for a certain number of years from the year in which he signed his first contract, as shown below.

Goalies                         Skaters
Age   Years                   Age   Years
18      6*                         18      5*
19      5*                         19      4*
20      4                           20     3 (McNabb falls in here)
21      4                           21     3
22      4                           22     3
23      3                           23     3
24      2                           24     2
25+    1                          25+    1

For anyone 20 or older, the year in which they play their first professional game is considered the first year counting towards the number of years they are exempt from waivers.

*If an 18 or 19 year old plays in 11 or more NHL games in a season, then the eligible period drops to 4 years for a goalie and 3 years for a skater, with the first year of that period being the year in which the player played 11 or more games.

The other factor is games played. Once a player reaches the threshold (again based on the age at which they signed their first professional contract), they are eligible for waivers. The language of the CBA is very clear that while there are two distinct thresholds, this is an “earliest of” scenario. If a player reaches their games played mark before the reach the years mark (or vice versa), they become eligible for waivers.

Goalies                         Skaters
Age   Games                 Age   Games
18      80                        18      160
19      80                        19      160
20      80                         20     160 (McNabb falls in here)
21      60                         21     80
22      60                         22     70
23      60                         23     60
24      60                         24     60
25+                                 25+

Professional Games is typically defined as all NHL regular season and playoff games. However, for players older than 20 years of age, the definition expands to include AHL regular season and playoff games, as well as any other professional game played in Europe while the player is under contract to an NHL team but on loan to a European club. A 25 year old or older basically gets his first year waiver eligible and that’s it.” (clrkaitken)

McNabb signed his first pro contract May 18, 2011. He was 20 years of age at the time. This means he is exempt from waivers for this year, and two more following, or until he reaches the 160 games mark, which could be in the middle of year three, if he continues to play every single game in Buffalo from now until then.

Breathe easy, McNabb fans. While I admit, like the good majority of you, that the kid deserves to, and should, stay up with the Sabres this season, roster spot availability will be a bit of a determining factor in this.

My thought is that McNabb has another few weeks of “auditions”, while Tyler Myers heals from wrist surgery. If he continues his strong play, this should open the door for GM Darcy Regier to wheel and deal one of his defensemen (preferably Andrej Sekera) for some offensive help.

It’s all up to Brayden McNabb now…or perhaps it isn’t?



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Tags: Brayden Mcnabb Waiver Eligible Buffalo Sabres Nhl Waivers Rules Pittsburgh Penguins Tyler Myers

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