It's not often that a team can pull out a valuable player from the ashes of the waiver wire, but when they do, it's like getting something for nothing. The past decade saw a big switch in how this process works. Prior to the new CBA, there was a waiver draft held each year just before the season started. Now, it's not uncommon to see players being claimed off waivers throughout the season. Either way, there aren't many great stories to be found from waivers, but there are a few. As part of my series on the Decade in Review, here a the top 10 Waiver steals of the past decade:
10. Kyle Wellwood - Vancouver (June 25, 2008)
Wellwood wore out his welcome in Toronto and it looked as if no other team would be interested in his services until Vancouver took a chance on him. Even then, his start in Vancouver was rocky, being placed on waivers once again. There were no takers this time, so he stayed a Canuck. He turned things around with 18 goals that season and remains a decent depth forward for the team.
9. Craig Adams - Pittsburgh (March 4, 2009)
Adams was a big, underrated player in the Hurricanes Stanley Cup run of 2006. He was then traded to Chicago where he never really found a place. Looking for depth and penalty killing help last season, the Penguins took a chance on the winger as they geared up for their Stanley Cup run. Adams contributed nicely, scoring the first 3 playoff goals of his career.
8. Chris Osgood - NY Islanders (Sept 28, 2001)
In 2001, the Red Wings grabbed Dominic Hasek and didn't have room in their lineup for Osgood, so they placed him on waivers. The Islanders snatched him up. While his career in New York only lasted a couple years, he did help get the Islanders into the playoffs that season, which didn't happen too often this past decade.
7. Stephane Robidas - Atlanta (Oct 4, 2002)
Robidas was claimed by the Thrashers in 2002 and then traded to Dallas. No doubt, Dallas would have claimed him them had he gotten that far in the waiver draft that season. He went on to have several successful seasons as a Star and even made an All-Star appearance in 2009.
6. Sergei Samsanov - Carolina (Jan 8, 2008)
After wearing out his welcome in Boston, Montreal, and Chicago, Samsanov appeared at the end of his road as an NHL player. The Hurricanes took a chance on him in 2008 and he has seemed to fit in nicely in Carolina. Samsonov has been a steady 3rd line contributor for the Canes.
5. Kyle Quincey - LA (Oct. 13, 2008)
In 2008, Detroit just had too much depth at defense (and just about every position). The Kings scooped him up in 2008 and he had a great rookie season, scoring 38 points. He was then traded to Colorado for Ryan Smyth and is enjoying a strong sophomore season for the Avalanche this year.
4. Steve Begin - Montreal (Oct 3, 2003)
After a few seasons with Calgary, Begin was traded to Buffalo where he was immediately placed on waivers. The Canadiens took a chance on him in 2003 and it paid off. Begin was a steady depth forward for the team for five seasons before begin moving on to Dallas last season.
3. Rich Peverley - Atlanta (Jan 10, 2009)
Peverley started his career with Nashville, but he never seemed to stick with the big club. Last season, he arrived in Atlanta via waivers, and he's since then, he's been a revelation. He's averaged close to a point a game between last season and this season, and is making the Predators second guess their decision of a year ago.
2. Chris Mason - Nashville (Oct 3, 2003)
Although he actually debuted with the Predators a few years earlier, he was released and was moved around for a couple years before being grabbed up again off waivers in 2003. He then split time with Tomas Vokoun before becoming the number one guy in 2007. Mason has since moved on to St. Louis where he remains a top end talent.
1. Ilya Bryzgalov - Phoenix (Nov 17, 2007)
It's hard to believe Brian Burke couldn't find a trading partner for Bryzgalov in 2007. The Ducks were set in net with Giguere and Hiller and had a third wheel to deal with. Several teams were interested in him on waivers, but the lot fell to Phoenix. Bryzgalov instantly became their best player, as he led the team to 26 wins in 2007 and 2008. He's currently on top of the league in just about every goalie statistic.