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Kuhnhackl on waivers, two Islanders cuts to go

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Does Devon Toews survive the final cut?

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders
Sure he can play, but is his uniform number low enough for a true NHL defenseman?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A busy day for waivers around the NHL saw the New York Islanders adding one of their own to the mix, and narrowing the range of their intentions for the season opening roster: Tom Kuhnhackl, one of several offseason checking-line-calibre additions, has been placed on waivers.

This doesn’t mean he’s absolutely being assigned to Bridgeport — you can keep a player on the NHL roster after he clears waivers, and even assign him later — but he’s all but certain to be the next one to go to the AHL when the seasoning-opening roster deadline arrives tomorrow.

The moving parts are:

  • Tanner Fritz has already cleared waivers but hasn’t (yet?) been assigned to Bridgeport. Arthur Staple of the Athletic thinks Fritz is in the top 12.
  • Ross Johnson would require waivers but they did not request waivers on him today.
  • Devon Toews does not require waivers. Because he has a one-way contract, there seems to be confusion about that. But he can be assigned to the AHL without clearing waivers (and Staple reads Barry Trotz’s language as a hint that’s where he’ll start). Still, the Isles appear to be still experimenting with their D pairings, a process likely to continue throughout October. Maybe they keep Toews to continue that experiment?
  • KHL import Jan Kovar (still waiver-exempt) also could be headed to Bridgeport, based on reporting from Andrew Gross of Newsday (see below).

And of course, all of this which is not yet set in stone, will not be set in stone even when it is set in stone. Because things can and will change quickly.

So we’ll see.

Kühnhackl was always the most likely of the summer grinders to go to Bridgeport first. Kovář was more of a wild card, as he has offensive upside but he may need more adjustment to the North American game.

Toews is ready to contribute now but, sadly, was always a risk to see his waivers-exempt status leveraged (see: Ryan Pulock 2016), especially after the head-scratching signing of Luca Sbisa.

And Andrew Ladd, “day to day” all preseason, is surely headed for IR.

So right now for the opening 23 we are possibly looking at:

Forwards:

Beauvillier - Barzal - Bailey
Lee - Nelson - Eberle
Martin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Komarov - Filppula - Fritz/Johnston

Defense: Boychuk, Leddy, Hickey, Pulock, Pelech, Mayfield, Sbisa...

Goalies: Lehner, Greiss

That’s 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies with one more slot to fill on the opening 23.

That likely means Kovar or Toews stays while the other heads to Bridgeport. UNLESS...

Yeah. PTOs Stephen Gionta and Dennis Seidenberg are still around. Not signed (that we know of), but around. It would be crazy to unnecessarily add to your roster crowd by signing Stephen Gionta or Dennis Seidenberg.

But Proven Veteran bias is strong. So beware.

The Islanders open the season Thursday in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes.