The third NHL lockout seems inevitable at this point, but that doesn't mean there won't be some roster fun between now and the vanishing point Saturday: There are overqualified AHLers to be assigned.
The NHL and NHLPA don't agree on much these days, but according to Renaud Lavoie they agreed on a special waiver period between now and Sept. 15 allowing veteran two-way players to head to the AHL in the event of a lockout without being subject to normal waiver rules:
That way, veteran players of the AHL, with 2 way contract, are going to have the right to play for their farm team.— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) September 11, 2012
They won't have to be put on re-entry waivers if they are call back 3 days before the start of the season.— Renaud P Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) September 11, 2012
There appears to be some confusion there: Re-entry waivers are not required unless a player's AHL salary is greater than $105,000 -- so that point is probably moot. Still, if the special waiver period applies to players on two-way contracts, that could cast an interesting net for some teams, though not the Islanders.
The Islanders don't have many players on two-way deals that would require waivers anyway. Travis Hamonic, for example, is still too young/inexperienced to require waivers, but Ty Wishart, re-signed to another two-way deal, would have otherwise faced waivers. Matt Martin would soon, but he's an unsigned RFA -- he may be looking for work during the lockout.
And you can rule out the most famous recent Bridgeport Sound Tiger assignment: Josh Bailey is on a one-way contract that would pay him his NHL salary if he were ever assigned to the AHL again (after clearing waivers).
Still, even if the Islanders have no stars to loophole to the AHL, several NHL aspirants like David Ullstrom, Nino Niederreiter and Casey Cizikas could boost the Bridgeport ranks as they aid other future Islanders teammates like Kirill Kabanov and Brock Nelson in their pro debut seasons.
It's safe to say NHL owners wouldn't want to be sending guys on one-way deals to the AHL anyway: Better to lock a guy out and pay him nothing than pay him an NHL salary while you're taking in no NHL revenue. But as with Lockout II in 2004 when players like Jason Spezza and Eric Staal got extra time to develop in the AHL, the Sound Tigers could be facing some teams with real NHL talent at their disposal.
As the CBA turns...