Randy Carlyle saw it coming.
“I would predict that Sunday will be a big day on the waiver wire,” the Toronto Maple Leafs coach said.
It was exactly that, as 37 players were placed on waivers around the NHL, including Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles, Detroit Red Wings forward Cory Emmerton, Winnipeg Jets defenceman Adam Pardy and Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Ryan Stanton. Countless other moves came on a busy day before Monday’s 5 p.m. roster deadline.
At that time, every team must be under the $64.3-million salary-cap ceiling with 23 or fewer players. A handful of teams spent the pre-season over the cap, necessitating last-minute moves.
For some teams, like the Philadelphia Flyers with Chris Pronger and the Boston Bruins with Marc Savard, long-term injured reserve will alleviate cap problems. The New York Rangers could put winger Carl Hagelin on LTIR, as well.
But the Rangers’ boldest move came Sunday with the demotion of prospect Chris Kreider, who did not make the team out of camp even under new coach Alain Vigneault. New York also placed thee players on waivers, including veterans Darroll Powe and Stu Bickel.
Another young star with NHL hopes will have to wait, as the Tampa Bay Lightning sent No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin back to the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Drouin could not beat out other prospects like 2008 seventh-rounder Ondrej Palat and 2009 second-rounder Richard Panik, who played 24 games for Tampa Bay last season.
Drouin finished last season second in scoring in the QMJHL with 41 goals and 64 assists in just 49 games. Those numbers could improve as an 18-year-old.
Roster numbers are being cut down across the league with the season set to begin Tuesday. The defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks, who open against the Washington Capitals, put Stanton on waivers, a sign that former Leafs defenceman Mike Kostka earned the team’s final roster spot.
The Los Angeles Kings also sent a top prospect to the minors when they assigned centre Tyler Toffoli to the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. Toffoli was drafted in the second round, 47th overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The Jets waiving Pardy also solidifies things on their blue line. Prospect Jacob Trouba, at the very least, is expected to start the season in Winnipeg, and Paul Postma could be the seventh defenceman. The Jets also waived centre Patrice Cormier.
The Edmonton Oilers claimed six-foot-four tough guy Luke Gadzic off waivers from the Dallas Stars as enforcer Steve MacIntyre missed practice with a knee injury. They also waived defenceman Philip Larsen, acquired from the Stars in for centre Shawn Horcoff, and winger Ryan Hamilton.
The Calgary Flames put centre Blair Jones and defenceman Derek Smith on waivers. Late Saturday night they traded a conditional fourth-round pick to Toronto for centre Joe Colborne.
In addition to Liles, the Leafs waived forwards Trevor Smith and Troy Bodie, defencemen T.J. Brennan and Korbinian Holzer and goaltender Drew MacIntyre.