Editor’s Note: This post was written last night at around 7:30pm, before the NY Post and Larry Brooks article was published. This is not an attempt to rip off Brooks, it is just coincidental timing.
Pavel Valentenko is no longer exempt from waivers. Even though he is still on his entry level deal without playing a single NHL game, he signed his contract when he was 19 (2007), and thus has been signed for four years (details here), which eliminates his waiver eligibility. This will be a determining factor in who makes the team out of camp. It will not be THE determining factor –the level of play will be– but it will definitely be on the minds of the coaching staff once the decisions need to be made.
Don’t think it will play into their decision? Then look no further than Mike Sauer, who was in an almost identical situation last year. Of course, Sauer helped himself by having a solid camp, but his camp was much like Tenk’s camp last season. Assuming Tenk can improve upon his camp from last year, which all signs point to him being able to do so, then his waiver status may make him impossible to cut.
Sauer made the team because of his strong camp, but the decision to keep him over someone like Valentenko or Ryan McDonagh was because of his waiver status. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility to have one of Michael Del Zotto or Tim Erixon, the two front runners for the open spots on the blue line, to start the season in the AHL because their waiver clocks have not expired yet.
If the decision with Sauer last season shows us anything, it is that the organization will take waiver status into account if certain players are “dead even” in camp. Right now the spots are Del Zotto’s and Erixon’s to lose. If Tenk is sent to the AHL, it is highly unlikely he will pass through waivers if called up. If Tenk goes to the Whale, he’s there for the year. Considering the presence of Wade Redden, that might not be a bad thing either.