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To Claim or Not to Claim? Blackhawks & The Waiver Wire

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The Chicago Blackhawks waived Boris Katchouk on Monday and it was to give him time in Rockford instead of sitting with the big club and watching.

But it was a curious one that hit the waiver wire earlier on Monday that caught the attention of most–and turned out to not even be true.

But more on that in a second.

When Jakub Vrana hit waivers last year while with the Detroit Red Wings, it caused quite the shock. Not only was he not claimed, but he would eventually be traded for next to nothing while retaining half the salary.

In what has been characteristic of Vrana in a new location, Vrana started scoring goals at a high clip, ending his 20-game stretch with St. Louis with 10 goals amidst 14 points.

But that production waned this season with Vrana only finding the back of the net twice in 19 games.

Before speculation could ramp up too much, though, Vrana’s agent clarified things per the Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford:

But it still brought up an interesting question: why do players on the waiver wire immediately generate a “to claim or not claim” inquiry almost immediately when teams are rebuilding?

Blackhawks Rebuild Status Makes the Waive Wire News

It’s often a needle in a haystack type of argument when one goes picking through the waiver wire. Great teams are built through the draft, developing those draft picks, and then making shrewd trades to fill around it. At times, free agency can help, too, but it seems less of an opportunity to find those impact players–think Marian Hossa–hitting free agency like they once did.

So the waiver wire seems an affordable and low risk way to maybe snag a diamond in the rough. Maybe he’s not working out with his club. Perhaps he could make an impact with the right team. How about his deployment–is it being done correctly?

A guy like Eeli Tolvanen comes to mind who has been successful with the Seattle Kraken since being claimed. While that worked out, there’s also guys who looked like can’t-misses and well, didn’t move the needle like they thought.

Someone like Vrana, should he indeed be available by trade, surely piques interest. But the long term returns haven’t always been what teams thought they’re getting.

In short like the draft, sometimes it hits and sometimes it doesn’t. But until the Blackhawks are finally out of a rebuild, fans will wonder if they should take a flier on certain players.

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