The Pittsburgh Penguins are in an interesting situation where they have more healthy defensemen than they have roster spots for, but they could arguably still acquire another one.
It's just a matter of time before Ian Cole gets traded. That much we know. But Matt Hunwick hasn't been a very effective player, and the bottom pairing could use some bolstering if the team wants to make a run at the playoffs.
Enter Cody Franson.
The Chicago Blackhawks player was placed on waivers this week, and went unclaimed. It isn't unusual for a team to trade for a player after he passes through waivers.
That leads to the question: why give up assets for somebody you could have had for free?
The answer is simple.
Once a player passes through waivers, if you trade for him, they can pass freely between the NHL and the AHL on their new team. Some teams, like the Edmonton Oilers for example, have made claims on players off the waiver wire, only to try to send them back to the AHL and have the player plucked back from them on the waiver wire by their original team.
This happened with the Australian-born player Nathan Walker of the Washington Capitals. Edmonton claimed him, played him a bit, tried to send him to the AHL, and had him taken back by Washington.
The idea was recently floated to Jason Mackey, beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that Franson could be a good fit for the Penguins - and would be a good project for Sergei Gonchar.
"He was. But they didn't claim him. Nobody did. So, no. But I do like Franson and think he could be a nice fit here. It's useless to contemplate, though, because the Penguins, along with every other NHL team, passed on him."
What Mackey is forgetting is what we explained above - just because every team passed on him, doesn't mean he won't be traded for. At only $1 million, and on an expiring deal, he could be a good rental.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded for goaltender Calvin Pickard after he cleared waivers earlier this season.
He had top possession numbers with the Hawks and managed 7 points in 23 games with limited ice time and constant line juggling. The 6'5" defenseman could be another Jamie Oleksiak acquisition - a huge body who's deceptively mobile and offensively gifted from the back end.
His 212 points in 550 games are very respectable for a former 3rd round pick, and he could be a cheap acquisition for Jim Rutherford.
Here's an oldie, but a goodie.
As Mackey said, he would be a nice fit here, and there's reason to believe that they've had interest in him before - it's just a question of timing and cost. Right now, the timing seems as good as any, and the price is probably as low as it will ever be to acquire him.
What do you think?