This year, the hockey pool draft will be conducted on Saturday, September 21st and opening night of the NHL season will be Tuesday, October 1st, which leaves about 10 days of exhibition games, numerous practices and gauntlets of players trying to make their respective NHL clubs. With all of that being said, I think it will be very important for teams to start on as level of a playing field as possible, so I believe I will have a small waiver period, making sure that every team starts with a full line-up on opening night.
Here is the deal... once the draft is complete, every team will have 14 players (8 forwards, 4 defensemen and 2 goalies) and they all should be happy and healthy, ready for the start of the regular season. If one of your players is to go down with injury between the draft and the day before opening night, you will be eligible for a waiver replacement player, to ensure your team is healthy, if you like.
How it will work: If a player of yours gets injured, and this will only apply to injuries, you can review the injury, see if it will be a long-term injury and if you decide that you could do better with a different player than wait out the injury, you can send me an e-mail or give me a call, let me know which player you would like to drop and which player you would like to take in his place.
All waiver decisions will be made at Noon the next day, in case there are two claims for the same player on the same night. If there are two (or more) claims on the same player on a given evening, priority will be given to the highest drafted player being dropped.
For example, if Team A wanted to drop Sidney Crosby (due to another concussion) and Team B wanted to drop Mikael Backlund (due to a lower-body injury), and both teams wanted Shawn Matthias of the Panthers, who hadn't been drafted yet, Team A would have priority, because they are losing a higher drafted player, to which is way more important to fill than a lower round player.
Waiver claims can be made between the draft itself to just before Noon on Tuesday, October 1st and then that will be it. The last waiver decision will be Noon on October 1st and then the rosters will be locked to the first waiver draft, which will go in the same manner as years before.
Very important... this waiver period will only apply to injured players. If you have decided to draft an unsigned restricted free agent, like Nazem Kadri or Alex Pietrangelo, and they have not signed by opening night, these players are not eligible to be dropped for a waiver pick up, as they are deemed inactive at the time of the draft and that is a risk you were willing to make. If you have chosen an injured player during the draft, who had a report that the injury would be minor and should be back before opening night and their prognosis changed, those players would be eligible for the waiver period, as factors have changed and it is injury-related.
One more thing I will likely allow this season, during the same timeframe of the waiver period, will be trades. Although I think they will be somewhat unlikely, teams can spend the time before opening night to trade players. As long as teams comply to the roster sizes (8 forwards, 4 defensemen and 2 goalies), players can be moved from team to team before the rosters lock.
This will be the only time that trades will be allowed, as teams that are in the money will not be able to trade for players from teams that are well out.