Jakub Kindl clears waivers, and that’s not really a bad thing

For the second time this season, the Detroit Red Wings placed Jakub Kindl on waivers on Tuesday afternoon. Today, he cleared once again, and will head to the Grand Rapids Griffins for another tour of duty. Both the pro and anti-Kindl crowds had reasons for being upset, but the end result, as odd as it sounds, is a slightly more valuable asset.

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Kindl is a polarizing figure in Detroit. The underlying numbers, be it possession, production, situational, or even with/without you all seem to imply that he makes a positive impact on play, but his play seems to fall off a cliff when’s given a heavy workload. Not to mention, his mistakes often aren’t just glaring; they’re disastrous.

Naturally, a player like him would be best suited to sheltered, third pairing minutes somewhere, there’s likely a team out there that is willing to pounce on a player like that. The problem, though? His contract is a little more than third pairing, to say the least; he’s on the penultimate year of a deal with a $2.4 million cap hit attached. To make matters worse, he’s owed more “real dollars” for the remainder of the deal than the space that he takes up. Teams with internal caps tend to shy away from these backloaded players..

According to NHL waiver rules, players who have successfully cleared waivers become temporarily exempt from re-entering the process if called back up. Specifically, they must be members of the team for 10 games or 30 calendar days before the clock resets. The Wings called up Kindl on February 3rd, meaning he still had a handful of games or a week and a half before he needed to pass through again.

By waiving him now, the Red Wings have reset the clock and opened up a window where, if they can’t find a suitor for Kindl by Monday, they can send him up and down at will for another month, heading into the final stretch of the year. Teams took advantage of this “loophole” last year, especially those with nearby AHL affiliates (looking at you, Toronto). Every day down with the Griffins puts saves the team a few thousand dollars. For the Wings, who are deadlocked against the cap, that’s a nice layer of flexibility.

At the same time, that 30 days of freedom started after the first call-up, could be something that entices another team. If you’re willing to pay for the travel and have a close affiliate, it’s a way to even further slash the cap hit of a late-season acquisition. The Wings still have the issue of finding a team that could squeeze him in now and next year, but certainly, giving them a few thousand more dollars of cap relief might open up an extra option or two.

Worst case scario? Kindl will attempt to prove himself again with the Griffins while the team uses him sparingly until their next attempt to move his deal at the draft.