What is a Waiver in Hockey?

A waiver in hockey is a process in which a team releases a player from their contract, making them available to be claimed by other teams. In the world of hockey, a waiver is a term used to describe the process of allowing a player to be released from their contract by a team.

When a player is placed on waivers, they become available to be claimed by any other team in the league. This process is often used when a team wants to send a player down to the minor leagues or if they no longer have any use for the player on their roster.

Waivers give other teams the opportunity to claim the player and add them to their own roster. However, if no team claims the player, they can then be sent down to the minor leagues or assigned to a different team within the same organization.

Understanding The Concept Of Waivers In Hockey

Waivers play a crucial role in the world of hockey, especially in the context of the nhl. Whether you’re a die-hard hockey fan or just starting to explore the sport, it’s essential to grasp the concept of waivers and how they impact player transactions.

In this section, we’ll delve into the definition and purpose of waivers, as well as how they work within the nhl.

Definition And Purpose Of Waivers

  • Waivers, in hockey, refers to a process that allows teams to freely move players between the nhl and the american hockey league (ahl), or other minor league affiliations.
  • The purpose of waivers is to maintain a certain level of fairness and parity in player transactions, preventing teams from manipulating the system to gain an unfair advantage.
  • When a player is placed on waivers, other nhl teams have the opportunity to claim that player. If no one claims the player within a specified time period, they are then eligible to be assigned to a minor league team without any further obstacles.

How Waivers Work In The Context Of The Nhl

  • When a player is placed on waivers, nhl teams have a certain timeframe to submit a claim on that player. The claiming team must be willing to assume the player’s existing contract.
  • If multiple teams submit claims, the team with the worst record has the first right to claim the player. This process is known as a waiver priority.
  • If a player clears waivers and goes unclaimed, the team can send them to their ahl affiliate without any further restrictions. However, if the player is recalled within a certain timeframe, they are once again required to go through the waiver process.
  • Waivers also come into play when a team wants to recall a player from the ahl who does not qualify for an exemption. In this case, the player must be placed on waivers, allowing other nhl teams the opportunity to potentially claim them.

Understanding the concept of waivers in hockey is fundamental to comprehending the intricacies of player movements and team strategies. By utilizing the waiver process, teams can make necessary roster adjustments while maintaining a level playing field for all organizations involved.

When Are Waivers Necessary In Hockey?

Triggering Situations That Require Players To Pass Through Waivers

When it comes to waivers in hockey, there are certain triggering situations that require players to pass through this process. Waivers serve as a means to control player movement and maintain a fair playing field in the league. Here are some key points to understand about when waivers are necessary in hockey:

  • Players who meet certain age and experience criteria may be subject to waivers when they are being assigned to a different team or league. This ensures that talented players have a chance to be claimed by other teams, rather than being retained solely by their current team.
  • A player must clear waivers before they can be assigned to a minor league team, european team, or loaned to a different club. This allows other teams to potentially claim the player and add them to their roster instead.
  • If a player is being recalled from a minor league team, they may need to pass through waivers. This gives other nhl teams an opportunity to acquire the player, potentially leading to a trade or impactful roster change.
  • In some cases, injured players who are nearing a return to the ice must also clear waivers before rejoining their team. This is to prevent teams from hiding injured players on injured reserve (ir) without the risk of losing them to another team.
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These triggering situations for waivers ensure fairness in player movement and allow teams to make strategic decisions that can impact their roster dynamics. By going through the waiver process, players have a chance to be claimed by other teams or provide their current team with options for potential trades or roster adjustments.

The Waiver Process Explained

The waiver process in hockey can be a bit complex, but understanding it is crucial for players and teams alike. Waivers are a necessary part of the roster management process, allowing teams to make adjustments and giving players opportunities to be claimed by other teams.

Let’s take a step-by-step breakdown of how waivers work in the nhl and explore the waiver order and priority.

Step-By-Step Breakdown Of How Waivers Work:

  • When a player is subject to waivers, their team has the option to place them on waivers. This means that the player is made available to other teams for a specified period of time, usually 24 hours.
  • During this time, other nhl teams have the opportunity to claim the player and assume their contract. If multiple teams place a claim on the player, the player goes to the team with the lowest points percentage in the league at that time.
  • If no team claims the player within the waiver period, the player can be assigned to a team’s minor league affiliate or remain on the nhl roster.

Nhl Waiver Order And Priority:

  • The waiver order is determined by the current nhl standings. The team with the lowest points percentage has the highest priority in claiming waived players.
  • If two or more teams in the same league place a claim on a player, the team with the lowest points percentage at the time of the claim gets priority.
  • Once a team claims a player off waivers, they must add the player to their nhl roster and assume their existing contract. This can be a strategic move for teams looking to bolster their lineup or acquire a player with potential.

Understanding the waiver process and its implications is essential for both players and teams in the world of hockey. It allows for movement and adjustments within the league, providing opportunities for players to continue their careers and teams to strengthen their rosters.

By following the step-by-step breakdown of how waivers work and understanding the nhl waiver order and priority, players and teams can navigate this intricate process effectively.

Factors Affecting Waiver Eligibility

Waivers play a crucial role in hockey, determining a player’s eligibility to be sent down to the minor leagues or traded to another team without being claimed by other teams first. Understanding the factors that affect waiver eligibility is essential for both players and teams.

Let’s dive into the key points regarding determining whether a player is eligible for waivers.

Determining Whether A Player Is Eligible For Waivers

  • Age: Players must be a certain age to be subject to waivers. For most players, this age is 18 or 19, depending on the league and the player’s contract status.
  • Experience: Players who have played a certain number of professional games may become eligible for waivers. This threshold varies, but it usually ranges from 60 to 80 nhl games.
  • Contract status: The type of contract a player has can impact their waiver eligibility. Players with entry-level contracts or two-way contracts are subject to waivers, while those with no-movement clauses or one-way contracts may be exempt.
  • Playing time: If a player has not played a certain number of nhl games or been on the team’s active roster for a specific duration, they may be exempt from waivers.
  • Draft status: Players who were selected in the most recent nhl entry draft may be exempt from waivers for a limited period, usually the first two seasons after being drafted.

Exceptions to waiver requirements are also worth considering, as certain scenarios allow players to be exempt from the waiver process altogether.

Exceptions To Waiver Requirements

  • Emergency recall: In situations where a team has significant injuries or illnesses to their roster goaltenders, they may request an emergency recall from their ahl affiliate without subjecting the player to waivers. This allows teams to address immediate needs without risking losing a player to another team.
  • Conditioning stint: Players who are returning from injury or need additional playing time can be sent to the ahl for a conditioning stint without clearing waivers. This period is limited in length, typically ranging from two to 14 days.
  • Return from long-term injury: Players coming back from long-term injuries may also be exempt from waivers. The specific conditions for exemption vary depending on the league and the length of the player’s absence.

These factors and exceptions contribute to the complexity of waiver eligibility in hockey. Teams must carefully evaluate these considerations when making roster decisions, while players must be aware of their status to navigate the waiver process effectively. Understanding waivers and their impact is essential for all involved in the world of hockey.

Implications Of Being Placed On Waivers

Being placed on waivers can have significant implications for both a player’s nhl career and team dynamics. Let’s dive into the key points:

Impact On A Player’S Nhl Career:

  • Being placed on waivers means that the player is at risk of being moved to a different team or league, potentially disrupting their career trajectory.
  • If a player goes unclaimed on waivers, they may be assigned to a lower-level team, such as an ahl affiliate, which can impact their development, playing time, and exposure.
  • Waivers can also affect a player’s confidence and morale, as being placed on waivers suggests that their current team may not see them as a valuable asset.
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Impact On Team Dynamics:

  • Placing a player on waivers can create tension within the team, as it may signal to other players that management is looking to make changes or improvements.
  • In some cases, placing a popular or respected player on waivers can also negatively impact team morale, leading to a potential loss of trust and cohesion.
  • On the other hand, waivers can also serve as a wake-up call for underperforming players, motivating them to improve or risk being moved elsewhere.

In the next sections, we will explore the potential consequences of being claimed or clearing waivers. So, let’s move on to the next section.

Potential Consequences Of Being Claimed Or Clearing Waivers

Being claimed or clearing waivers can have various outcomes for both the player and the team. Here are the key points to consider:

Being Claimed Off Waivers:

  • If a player is claimed off waivers by another team, they are immediately transferred to their new team and become part of their roster.
  • This can present a fresh opportunity for the player to showcase their skills and potentially secure a more prominent role within the new team.
  • However, being claimed off waivers also entails leaving behind familiar teammates, coaches, and systems, which can be a significant adjustment.

Clearing Waivers:

  • When a player clears waivers and goes unclaimed, they remain with their current team.
  • Clearing waivers can provide a sense of relief for the player, as it allows them to continue playing in a familiar environment.
  • However, it may also be a humbling experience, as clearing waivers implies that no other team perceived enough value in the player to claim them.

It’s important to remember that the implications of being claimed or clearing waivers are highly situational and can vary depending on the player, team dynamics, and overall performance. The effects on a player’s nhl career and team dynamics can be substantial, shaping the future direction of both the individual and the team.

Waiver Claim Process And Considerations

Hockey waivers are an essential part of the game, allowing teams to claim players who have been placed on waivers by their current teams. But how exactly does the waiver claim process work, and what factors should teams consider when claiming a player?

In this section, we will delve into these questions and provide you with a better understanding of the ins and outs of the waiver claim process. So let’s get started!

How Teams Can Claim Players Off Waivers

To claim a player off waivers, teams must follow a specific set of procedures:

  • Submission of a waiver claim: Teams interested in acquiring a player off waivers must submit a claim to the league office. The claim indicates their desire to acquire the player and their willingness to assume the player’s current contract.
  • Priority order: Waiver claims are subject to a priority order, with the team lowest in the standings having the first opportunity to claim the player. If multiple teams submit claims, the player is awarded to the team with the lowest standing.
  • Waiting period: After a waiver claim is submitted, there is a waiting period during which other teams have the opportunity to submit their own claims. If no other team claims the player, the team with the initial claim is awarded the player.

Factors To Consider When Claiming A Player

Claiming a player off waivers is not a decision to be taken lightly. Teams must consider several factors before making a claim:

  • Player’s fit within the team: It is vital to evaluate how the player would fit into the team’s existing structure, including their style of play and potential impact on team chemistry.
  • Contract implications: Claiming a player off waivers means assuming their current contract. Teams need to assess the financial implications and whether it aligns with their salary cap situation and long-term plans.
  • Performance history: Reviewing the player’s performance history can provide insights into their consistency, potential, and fit with the team’s playing style.
  • Injury status: The player’s injury history and current health conditions should be carefully evaluated, as injured players may require additional time to recover before being able to contribute effectively.
  • Team needs: Consideration should be given to the team’s immediate and long-term needs. Will the player address any weaknesses within the team or contribute to the team’s overall success?

Claiming a player off waivers can be a strategic move, providing teams with an opportunity to strengthen their roster without giving up any assets. However, it requires careful evaluation of various factors to ensure the acquisition aligns with the team’s goals and objectives.

By understanding the waiver claim process and considering key factors, teams can make informed decisions when pursuing players off waivers.

Common Misconceptions About Waivers In Hockey

Debunking Popular Misconceptions About The Waiver Process

Many hockey fans and even some players have misconceptions about how the waiver process works in the nhl. Let’s clarify these misunderstandings and shed some light on the truth:

  • Misconception 1: Waivers are only for bad players. In reality, waivers are a common practice used by teams to reassign players between the nhl and the minor leagues. Even talented players who may need more development or playing time can be placed on waivers.
  • Misconception 2: Waivers means a player is being released from the team. This is not true. When a player is placed on waivers, it means they are being made available to other teams. If they clear waivers and no other team claims them, they can be assigned to the minor leagues or remain with the team.
  • Misconception 3: All players must go through waivers at some point. While waivers are a common part of the nhl process, not all players are subject to waivers. Only players who meet specific criteria, such as age, professional experience, and contract status, need to go through waivers before being reassigned.
  • Misconception 4: Waiver claims always result in a player changing teams. While waiver claims do happen, it’s not a guarantee that a player will switch teams. If another team claims a player on waivers, they must then assume the player’s contract and roster obligations.
  • Misconception 5: Players can be waived an unlimited number of times. Each player has a limited number of times they can be placed on waivers before they become exempt. Once a player has cleared waivers, they usually have a specified length of time before they are exempt from further waiver claims.
  • Misconception 6: Teams use waivers to get rid of unwanted contracts. Waivers are not primarily used to shed unwanted contracts. While a team may hope that another team claims a player and his contract, it isn’t always the main purpose. Waivers are more commonly used to facilitate player movement and reassignments.
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Understanding these common misconceptions about the waiver process in hockey is crucial for both fans and players alike. Waivers are an essential part of roster management and player development, and debunking these myths helps us have a clearer perspective on how they truly work.

Pros And Cons Of Utilizing Waivers

Waivers play a significant role in the world of hockey. This process allows teams to release players from their roster and assign them to the minor leagues. While waivers can offer certain benefits, they also come with drawbacks that teams must consider.

Understanding these pros and cons is essential for teams when making decisions about utilizing waivers.

Benefits Of Placing Players On Waivers

Placing players on waivers can provide several advantages for teams:

  • Flexibility in roster management: Waivers allow teams to free up spots on their nhl roster, providing flexibility to make changes and address specific team needs.
  • Player development: Sending a player to the minor leagues through waivers can give them an opportunity to gain more playing time, improve their skills, and potentially make their way back to the nhl as a better player.
  • Salary cap relief: When a player is claimed off waivers, their contract is transferred to the claiming team. This can help the original team alleviate salary cap constraints, allowing them to make other necessary roster moves.

Drawbacks Of Placing Players On Waivers

While waivers offer benefits, teams should also be aware of the potential drawbacks:

  • Risk of losing a player: Placing players on waivers exposes them to the possibility of being claimed by another team. Losing a valuable player without receiving any compensation can be a significant blow to a team’s depth and performance.
  • Demoralizing effect: Being placed on waivers can have a negative impact on a player’s morale and confidence. It can be a challenging experience for players, potentially affecting their performance when they return to the nhl.
  • Limited control over player movement: If a player clears waivers and is sent to the minor leagues, the team loses control over their whereabouts and playing time. This lack of control can impact a player’s development and overall team planning.

Strategic Implications For Teams Within The Waiver System

Teams need to consider various strategic implications when navigating the waiver system:

  • Timing is crucial: Timing is everything when placing players on waivers. Teams must strategically assess the chances of their players being claimed and the impact it may have on their roster.
  • Striking a balance: Teams need to strike a balance between utilizing waivers to address roster needs and maintaining player morale and team chemistry. It requires careful consideration of the long-term implications of placing players on waivers.
  • Waiver wire management: Teams must keep a close eye on the waiver wire and be aware of potential opportunities to claim players from other teams. This strategic maneuver can provide the team with additional talent or fill a gap in their lineup.

Overall, waivers in hockey offer both benefits and drawbacks for teams. While they provide flexibility and developmental opportunities, there is always a level of risk involved. Understanding the strategic implications of utilizing waivers is crucial for teams to make informed decisions and maximize their success on and off the ice.

[FAQs] Frequently Asked Questions For What Is A Waiver In Hockey?

What Is A Waiver In Hockey And How Does It Work?

A waiver in hockey is a process where teams can release a player from their roster, making them available for other teams to claim. If a player is waived and not claimed within 24 hours, they can be assigned to the team’s minor league affiliate.

Why Do Teams Put Players On Waivers In Hockey?

Teams may put players on waivers to free up roster spots, create salary cap space, or give players a chance to play with a different team. It also allows other teams to claim the player if they believe they would be a good fit for their roster.

Can A Player Refuse To Go On Waivers In Hockey?

No, players cannot refuse to go on waivers in hockey. It is part of the league’s rules and regulations and players must comply with the process. However, being claimed off waivers may give them the opportunity to join a new team and potentially have more playing time.

What Happens If A Player Is Claimed Off Waivers In Hockey?

If a player is claimed off waivers in hockey, they are transferred to the team that claimed them. The new team then takes over the player’s existing contract and roster spot. The player joins their new team and has the opportunity to contribute on the ice.

Can A Team Recall A Player From Waivers In Hockey?

No, once a player is claimed off waivers in hockey, they cannot be recalled by the team that waived them. The player becomes the property of the team that claimed them and must report to their new team. The waiving team loses all rights to the player.


Understanding the concept of waivers in hockey is crucial for both players and fans. Waivers serve as a means of player movement and roster management in the national hockey league (nhl). It is a way for teams to gain more flexibility when it comes to their rosters and making adjustments throughout the season.

By placing a player on waivers, teams give other teams an opportunity to claim that player within a specific timeframe. If the player goes unclaimed, they are then eligible to be assigned to the team’s minor league affiliate. Waivers can have both short-term and long-term implications for a player’s career, as it determines their availability to other teams.

Whether a player is claimed or not, waivers play a significant role in shaping a team’s roster and can impact the dynamics of the game. Therefore, having a solid understanding of waivers is essential for anyone involved in the hockey world.

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