If you haven’t read my Wednesday Mailbag from last week, it might help to read it first so I don’t have to rehash it all over again here. Even if you don’t read it in its entirety, it might help to read the question about David Krejci. You can find it here.
Ever since I posted that piece, I have been asked question after question about any possible loopholes. The most repetitive question is: Can the Bruins sign Krejci and make a deal with a bottom feeder to claim him and trade him back to Boston?
The answer to that is that if the Hockey Gods are shining on Boston, then yes, they could, but it is virtually impossible to do and improbable.
Since November 1 has come and gone, the team with the lowest amount of points this season gets first crack at a waiver claim. However, this is David Krejci and I would not be surprised if a dozen teams were to put in a claim.
The Ottawa Senators currently sit in last place so the Bruins would have to make a deal with the Sens to claim Krejci, and then trade him back to Boston. However, the Sens can NOT trade him without first offering him to every other team that put in a claim first and the order there is also based on standings. Only when every other team that put in an original waiver claim says “thanks, but no thanks” could the Sens then trade him back to Boston. Again, it’s David Krejci. Is anyone really going to pass up the opportunity to add him to their roster at no cost?
If you turn the calendar back to January 2011, the Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who was playing in the KHL. Before he could play for the Red Wings, he needed to clear waivers and New York Islanders GM Garth Snow put in a claim. Even with the threat of retirement, Nabokov gave in and joined the Islanders.
Almost one year to the day earlier, the Bruins signed Miroslav Satan to a contract. I am reminded (my memory eludes me) that Satan did not have to clear waivers to report to the Bruins and am asked why that is any different? Well, Nabokov was playing in the KHL, Satan wasn’t playing anywhere (although he was going to take part in the Olympics) and thus the rule (briefly explained below) did not apply to Satan.
The only realistic scenario is that the Bruins sign him before December 15, 2021. The rule (in the CBA) originally read that signing a player who has played in a major European League after the NHL season began (even just one game), that player would require waivers to come to the NHL. That was changed in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the NHL and NHLPA that “start of NHL season” be changed to “December 15”. That means a player can play in Europe up to and including December 15 and sign an NHL contract and would not require waivers.
Krejci’s next game following the deadline is December 21, and if he laces up the skates in that contest, he will be required to clear waivers to play for the Bruins.
A good friend seems to think that there has to be a loophole or GM Don Sweeney wouldn’t say (more than once) that the door remains open and that I have to look harder for that loophole.
Well, I took the easy route: I am not a lawyer.
Krejci has stated that he intends to play out the season at home. But what about after his season that ends in March? His squad is currently in tenth place and likely headed to the qualification round and an early end to his season.
Back to the question: One thought did cross my mind while contemplating possibilities. Could the Bruins sign Krejci to a contract prior to the December 15, 2021 deadline (for waiver exemption) and loan him back to his Czech squad?
There is somewhat of a precedent here, see Cristobal Huet. Back in 2010, the Blackhawks loaned Huet to Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss league. The move wiped out all of Huet’s cap hit but the Hawks were still responsible for paying his salary. The same would apply to a Krejci deal, one would assume.
As I said, I am no lawyer, but I have very good knowledge of the CBA. And when I don’t, I ask those that do. I could not find anything in the CBA pertaining to this and the half-dozen people I asked that should know are stumped. A few said they’d even try and find out and a week later, on one knows.
I’m guessing Evan Gold does.
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