On Monday, the New York Islanders sent forward Austin Czarnik to waivers. The depth forward had been on the team's IR list for a while now. This move clearly means he's ready to play once again. If he goes unclaimed he'll rejoin the Bridgeport Islanders in the AHL.
So why did the Islanders waive a guy who had two goals and five points in eleven games this season? Why send a guy to the AHL that seemed to be playing well in a depth role for the Islanders?
New York Islanders sent Austin Czarnik to waivers
It's really about roster limits. NHL teams can only carry 23 players on the roster and the Islanders are at the 23-man limit when Czarnik was sent to IR. With Ryan Pulock and Kyle Palmieri returning to the team from IR the Isles are carrying 14 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies. That's 23 players.
Remember, taxi squads don't exist anymore. So that wasn't an option to stash him to use as a possible extra down the line.
And it's not as if he's about to step out from IR and take a spot on the Islanders roster. Say what you will about Kyle Palmieri's struggles this season, but sitting him long-term for Czarnik isn't the answer on how to get a $20 million investment to produce again.
There just wasn't room for Czarnik on the roster. That's why he was returned to the AHL through waivers.
Can He Be Claimed?
There's a risk he could be claimed off the waiver wire. But based on current roster sizes and projected cap space for the other 31 NHL teams the list of teams that have the space for Czarnik is ten.
The risk seems low that Czarnik is claimed by another team. Possible, but low.