With an NHL lockout now less than 24 hours away, many teams are taking advantage of the final hours of the current collective bargaining agreement.
Whether that means signing players to long-term deals, or more appropriately, placing two-way players on waivers so they can play in the AHL this upcoming season, almost every team is doing it.
The New York Rangers placed eight players on waivers on Thursday, and, assuming they all clear, they will be eligible to play for the Rangers AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale.
Although no big-name players will be playing for the Whale during the anticipated lockout, many speculated that names such as Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh may have been headed to Connecticut as well.
The Rangers biggest name who may be playing in the AHL is forward Chris Kreider. Because he is playing on an entry-level contract, and joined the Rangers after the playoffs started, it is not necessary for Kreider to be placed on waivers.
The players who the Rangers put on waivers this week were Sean Collins, Tommy Grant, Michael Haley, Chad Kolarik, Kris Newbury, Logan Pyett, Brandon Segal and Mike Vernace.
Perhaps a big reason that the Rangers didn’t want to send any high-name players to the minor leagues may have been to keep them from getting injured, in hopes that a lockout won’t last long and there will be a season sometime in 2012.
Other players, such as forwards Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash could benefit from extra time off. Even though teams won’t be allowed to practice together at the teams facilities, its likely that players such as Gaborik and Nash may work out together while they wait for an agreement between the owners and players’ association.
Gaborik is coming off shoulder surgery that he had in June to repair a torn labrum that the Rangers sniper suffered in New York’s opening round series against the Ottawa Senators. So, in all instances, a lockout seems highly beneficial to Gaborik, who can take extra time to make sure he is fully healed.
Likewise, the time off can help some of New York’s veterans that played deeper into the playoffs than they had in the past. Overall, the Rangers have a fairly young team, but guys like Brad Richards and Mike Rupp certainly wouldn’t mind an extra month to rest their bodies after a grimacing two-month long playoff run this summer.
It’s unlikely that any Rangers players would go overseas to play during the lockout, but it’s a possibility as it has been a popular idea for many players across the league.
More than anything, and it’s apparent, these players want to play in the NHL this season.
On Saturday, they will be locked out from the league, and after that, the waiting game will begin. For everybody.
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