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What do waivers have to do with Travis Dermott’s callup?

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One thing about signing older free agents is that their waiver exemption disappears fast.

Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Brigstew mentioned something about waivers and Andreas Johnsson — more on that in a bit — but it got me thinking about the exempt players on the Leafs. We know Nikita Soshnikov’s waiver exemption ran out a few weeks ago, but what of the others?

First, a quick refresher on how this works: When a player first signs an ELC, he is waiver exempt until he’s hit either a games played or seasons under NHL contract threshold. These numbers vary with age of player, and they are also different for goalies. You never need to learn the rule, however, because every waiver exempt player’s page on Cap Friendly links to the details.

For the players currently on the Maple Leafs roster that are exempt right now, this is when that exemption runs out (For season, the exemption expires at the start of that season.):

Waiver exemption expiry of current Maple Leafs

Name Games Left Season Exemption Ends
Name Games Left Season Exemption Ends
Auston Matthews 39 19/20
Mitch Marner 34 19/20
William Nylander 8 18/19
Frederik Gauthier 129 18/19
Andreas Borgman 30 20/21
Travis Dermott 159 19/20

The first three are just there for fun, but if you want to get in your send him to the AHL hot takes on William Nylander, you had best get on it.

Frederik Gauthier is no longer waiver exempt at the start of next season, so this is decision time for him twice over. His contract is up this summer as well. Is he doomed to be next year’s pressbox warrior as the Leafs keep a grip on their former first round pick, or is he someone they’ll try to slip down to the AHL at the end of training camp? Perhaps, he’ll simply be the 4C.

But the really interesting pair of players are the two young defenders, Andreas Borgman and Travis Dermott. Dermott has a lot of games yet and another whole season, so he’s not going to suddenly lose his exemption, and the Leafs don’t have to rush him into the NHL, or worse, sit him in the press box next year.

Andreas Borgman, however, sure looks like he’s going to use up his games played this season because playoff games count as well. But the Leafs could sit him out, play Dermott, Connor Carrick or some other defender some more, and preserve their ability to send him down at the start of next year. To make it work for sure, they’d need to be planning a long period in the press box for him or a trip to the Marlies, and so far that seems unlikely.

If Dermott plays himself right into the lineup, it might happen by default however.

Martin Marincin currently has an exemption that has another 7 NHL games and 9 days to run by my count (this is based on how much he’s played since the last time he cleared). He could play a few games while Borgman is off the playing roster as well.

The Leafs really do like their flexibility, and they carefully preserved Soshnikov’s exemption into the start of this year. But it’s not clear this is a route they would want to go with Borgman.

Now for the Marlies most likely to ever be called up. How long can they play in the NHL before their exemption runs out?

Waiver exemption expiry for Marlies

Name Games Left Season Exemption Expires
Name Games Left Season Exemption Expires
Calle Rosen 56 20/21
Miro Aaltonen 60 19/20
Andreas Johnsson 80 18/19
Kasperi Kapanen 131 19/20
Carl Grundstrom 160 20/21
Timothy Liljegren 160 22/23
Dmytro Timashov 160 19/20
Kerby Rychel not exempt
Garret Sparks not exempt

I threw in Carl Grundström since he’ll be on the team soon enough. Like Frederik Gauthier, Andreas Johnsson runs out of years this summer and his contract is up too. It’s decision time for him as well, and if he’s going to get a sniff at the NHL, it sure seems like it’s got to be soon.

Other Marlies about to lose their exemption on seasons played like Johnsson are: Justin Holl and Rinat Valiev. Everyone has at least one more season.

Poor Kasperi Kapanen, though, he can keep on keeping on in the AHL for another whole season, and he can’t get in enough NHL games before the summer of 2019 to force the Leafs to keep him either.