The Detroit Red Wings surprised some on Saturday when they waived Jakub Kindl. Despite the initial surprise, the move makes sense. The team has committed to Alexey Marchenko as a roster staple and Kyle Quincey is ready to come off injured reserve.
More surprising maybe was that the team had been actively trying to trade Kindl, but couldn’t find a suitor. It might seem obvious that a team will claim Kindl off waivers, but that GM Ken Holland couldn’t find a trading partner throws that into question.
The obviousness of the claim is further thrown into question as you see the obstacles to claiming him many teams face. Here are five teams that could potentially claim Jakub Kindl off waivers.
The Avs are clearly struggling to find a way to improve their blue line. Prices are high to upgrade through trade and until the last few days, trades have bene tough to come by in any fashion.
How desperate are the Avs? They claimed Andrew Bodnarchuk off waivers from Columbus this week and waived Brandon Gormley.
Kindl came out of junior as a point per game player and had offensive success in the AHL. His NHL career hasn’t been marked by a ton of offensive prowess, but he’s played that style before. Add in that he’s a positive relative possession guy over the course of 271 NHL games (over 4,000 total minutes minutes played) and his career Goals For Percentage is 54.7%, which is 1.6% relative to his teammates (his teams have a better goal differential with him on the ice than when he’s not on the ice).
Even this season, he’s got strong underlying numbers that suggest that some of his problems have been some bad bounces. He’s got a 7% score-adjusted CF%Rel (the team is taking more shot attempts with him on the ice than without) and a -1.9% GF%Rel (the team has a worse goal differential when he’s on the ice than when he’s off). The bad bounces are corroborated by his 3.8% shooting percentage at even strength, contributing to his 98.9 PDO.
He takes some bad penalties and isn’t a great penalty killer, but he’s capable of contributing to the power play and his ability to play an uptempo game fits Colorado’s system. They also have enough righties that Kindl, as a left-hander, could work.
Colorado’s big problem: They’re at 50 contracts, so making a waiver claim like this is impossible, unless they’re able to trade someone away in the next 24 hours. If Kindl had hit waivers before Bodnarchuk, this would be a no brainer.
Is Kindl a long-term solution for them? Probably not. But with the struggles they’ve had, some defensive depth wouldn’t hurt. It’d help them to stop forcing young players into the NHL too early.
Darnell Nurse, in particular, has been decent in his first NHL season. However, Nurse may benefit from time spent developing in a league where he can control play a little more. A league where he’s able to play the offensive-style game he needs to play and get the kind of ice time they eventually want him handling in the NHL.
There is the cap space available for the Oil to make the claim, but it’d get them close to the cap. That’s a situation that GM Peter Chiarelli would like to avoid if he wants the flexibility to make a bigger move near the trade deadline.
Toronto Maple Leafs
For the Maple Leafs, what do they have to lose? Most of their team isn’t on the roster for the long haul when they believe they can be a contender again. Claiming Kindl will probably limit their ability to play Frank Corrado, which will break Leafs’ fans hearts, but Kindl becomes an asset.
Toronto is in a place where they could give Kindl the kind of situations where he thrives. He could prove that he’s a worthwhile pick-up for a contender at the trade deadline, when Toronto could ship him out.
The Leafs have two assets Detroit didn’t have in trying to deal Kindl: time and cap space. They are able to be patient and to retain salary. They’ve shown in the past that they’re more than willing to retain salary now in order to be better in the future. At $1.2 million, Kindl might look a lot more attractive to teams being asked to part with a pick or prospect.
Toronto also has the time to be patient if they can’t move him this season. Moving him next year would be just as good for a team that’s looking much further down the road.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are taking steps toward playing the way they want, even if this is a lost season. Like with Toronto, maybe they can turn Kindl into a trade chip or maybe he’ll respond to a very different coaching style playing under John Tortorella.
We know that defense is a problem, though they took steps to right the ship in the last week by waiving Bodnarchuk and acquiring Seth Jones.
The issue here may be that the Blue Jackets need defensemen, but not necessarily one of Kindl’s ilk. They’ve got Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson on their top power play unit. On the second unit they’ll be committed to getting Seth Jones the situations he needs to develop and become a focal point of their blue line. Kindl may just not work for the system and roster in Columbus, despite their need to improve the back end.
With a few key injuries to deal with — Dan Hamuis and Luca Sbisa are out — they could use some help. They allow the ninth most goals against per game in the NHL and are home to the fifth worst power play in the league. Kindl may suit their blue line needs.
While Alex Edler is the clear number one option for the team’s top power play unit, which typically runs four forwards, the team has run Ben Hutton and Yannick Weber on the second unit. Kindl would be a serious upgrade over Weber on the power play.
The biggest obstacle is the salary cap. With four players making a combined $13.9 million on injured reserve, they’re in a tough spot. It’d be difficult to make Kindl work on such short notice, even if the price for acquisition is right.
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Advanced stats via War on Ice