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Why Is This Happening To Jason Garrison?

Note: This man has made over $30 million in his NHL career. Highly doubt a few extra flights are going to bother him that much. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After being called up, then sent down, then called up again, then sent down again, Jason Garrison has once again been called up to the NHL and will likely be in the lineup tonight in Calgary.

To the novice, it seems like George McPhee just can’t seem to figure out what he wants to do with Garisson, but in reality, he’s actually doing the smartest thing possible to make sure he has a sixth defenseman on the NHL roster for as long as possible while Merrill, Sbisa, and McNabb are all hurt; while also not taking the risk of losing Garrison on waivers.

Let me explain.

In the NHL, if you want to send a player to the AHL he must clear waivers unless he’s waiver exempt, which 33-year-old Garrison is not. When the Golden Knights originally sent Garrison down to Chicago on October 28th, he had to pass through waivers. In short, that means any team could have taken Garrison and his contract without giving Vegas anything in return (see Malcolm Subban & Ryan Carpenter). Presumably, he was not claimed in October because of his $4.6 million cap hit.

Thus, by clearing waivers, Garrison remained property of the Golden Knights, and was eligible to play in the AHL for the Chicago Wolves.

Then, on January 16th, Garrison was recalled to the NHL. The rule on when he has to pass through waivers again is as follows…

The Player has not played in ten (10) or more NHL Games cumulative since Regular Waivers on him were last cleared, and more than thirty (30) days cumulative on an NHL roster have not passed since Regular Waivers on him were last cleared. -NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

So what does that mean? It means the Golden Knights can freely send Garrison to and from Vegas to Chicago without him having to clear waivers until he plays 10 NHL games or more than 30 days have passed while he is on the NHL roster.So, let’s break down where we are with Garrison at this point.

  • Recalled on January 16th
    • Spent four days on NHL roster.
    • Did not play a game.
  • Re-assigned on January 20th
    • 30-day clock paused as he is not on NHL roster.
  • Recalled on January 24th
    • Spent two days on NHL roster.
    • Played one game
  • Re-assigned January 26th
    • 30-day clock paused as he is not on NHL roster.
  • Recalled on January 28th
    • Thus far has spent two days on NHL roster.
    • Expected to play tonight.

Add it all up. He’s played in one game (second tonight) and has been on the NHL roster for eight days including today. Thus, assuming he plays tonight, he has a total of seven games left and 22 days until he is no longer exempt from waivers.

So, the reason they keep shuttling Garrison back and forth is not to rack up frequent flier miles, instead, it’s to make sure they slow the clock before he once again must pass through waivers. By sending him back during the All Star Break, McPhee bought himself three days.

Got it? Ok, let me add one more wrinkle. The NHL Trade Deadline is on February 26th. After the deadline passes, the NHL’s active roster limit of 23 disappears, so Garrison could remain on the NHL roster for the remainder of the season. Garrison’s 10th game would be on February 13th against Chicago. His 31st day of service (assuming he’s not sent out again before then) is February 22nd. So, if Garrison remains on the roster, there will be either four games if he plays them all or four days if he is scratched from games, in which he would be subject to waivers.

Garrison is a UFA at the end of the season and he’s 33-years old, so he will likely not be spending any more time in the AHL after the trade deadline.

That is, of course, if he remains on the roster when the clock strikes noon on February 26th.


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  1. Rob

    Thanks, that clears up my confusion. I was unaware of the cumulative 30 day limit so it make much or sense now

  2. A Fan

    I notice that now most people seem to respond to your stories on Twitter instead of here. Agree?

  3. Thanks Ken, really clears it up !

  4. Hey, thanks! Your explanations are very direct and well-thought-out. Thank you for contributing to the community!

  5. RJ

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see Garrison or one of our other extra depth Dmen get moved to Winnipeg soon. They are getting bit by injuries on the back end and we have had pieces to deal all year.

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