The inevitable finally happened. General Manager Don Sweeney placed Karson Kuhlman on waivers and 24 hours later, the Seattle Kraken claimed the winger.
I say it was inevitable because the Bruins had too many bodies. The emergence of Oskar Steen and the fact that Coach Bruce Cassidy had more faith in Steen, someone had to go. With Nick Foligno getting closer to returning, the timeline was sped up. Trent Frederic is not too far behind.
I’ve spoken about it here several times: One of Kuhlman or Anton Blidh was going to have to go through waivers. It’s obvious that Cassidy likes Blidh in the lineup and Sweeney chose to waive the player on a one-way contract versus the two-way contract.
Then there is Urho Vaakanainen. We’ll touch on his situation a little later. It looks like the lineup versus the Carolina Hurricanes will look something like this:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Hall – Haula – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Steen
Blidh – Nosek – Lazar
Vaakanainen – McAvoy
Reilly – Carlo
Forbort – Clifton
Rask and Ullmark
Injured/Covid: Foligno, Frederic, Grzelcyk, Moore
Let’s forget the Jake DeBrusk trade request for now because he is still on the roster.
When healthy, that’s a 25-man roster, two over the limit. The solution is a no-brainer: Tyler Lewington goes to the taxi squad or Providence. That leaves Steen and Vaakanainen as the only waiver exempt players. John Moore has already cleared waivers and will not require waivers unless he reaches the 10-game or 30 days on the roster threshold.
Sending Moore down does two things: It gives Cassidy players in Steen and Vaakanainen that he will actually use and his only tough decisions will be who sits as the 13th and 14th forward and who sits as the 7th defenceman. Secondly, it gives Sweeney the most cap flexibility now and on trade deadline should he want to make a trade. And if it’s big cap flexibility he wants, he could also send Steen down and carry a 22-man roster to bank some cap space. Better yet, he could just do ‘paper transactions’ on off days sending Steen and Vaakanainen down and calling them back up on game days to bank even more cap space.
In the end, none of this would have been possible without waiving Kuhlman. It’s too bad Seattle claimed him as he would at the very least added to the depth chart, but it was a move that 100 percent needed to be done.
So, I’ll wish Kuhlman luck in Seattle, but this was the only move the Bruins could make.