Avery on waivers, and why return to Rangers isn't automatic

Greg Wyshynski

There was a notable roster move made today, and with all due respect it wasn't Jussi Jokinen heading to the Carolina Hurricanes for spare parts. Sean Avery snuck back onto the Dallas Stars' roster for the purpose of placing him on waivers, the inevitable first step in his return to the NHL and his surgical removal from the Dallas organization.

If you've been following this story, you know the drill: Avery will probably pass through waivers by Monday morning, be assigned to an AHL team of the Stars' choosing and then prove he's both mentally and physically able to play hockey again. Then the Stars either trade him or, more likely, bring him up through recall waivers where a team can claim him for half of the remaining dollars on his $15.5 million, four-year contract. If all else fails, there's still the summer, where a buyout potentially awaits.

As we mentioned yesterday, the New York Rangers would appear to be the logical destination for Avery, and that could begin with a conditioning stint with their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack.

We're not sure how Larry Brooks typed his latest "how Avery can save the Rangers" screed while holding pom-poms, but he deserves some percentage of Avery's future earnings for the gushing endorsement. Then again, even Rangers Coach Tom Renney put Avery over as a potential asset.

It all seems rather cut-and-dry that Avery will rejoin the Rangers; but as Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News writes, there's still one potential obstacle that could derail both the Blueshirts' plans and, potentially, Avery's comeback.

From Heika on the Dallas Stars Blog:

The Rangers appear to be the team that wants to claim Avery and might even be the team that helps the Stars out by providing the AHL team on which Avery will play (Hartford). The tricky part of this whole deal is the winning claim goes to the team with the worst record. Thus, the Rangers could help the Stars out, could watch as Avery gets put on recall waivers, could put in their claim, but then could find out a team with a worse record also put in a claim. The Rangers would then lose Avery, and Avery would have to go to whichever team put in the claim.

Check the standings; is there another team that would be willing to add Avery to the mix, either as a hockey decision or as some kind of cheap publicity stunt? (Yes, we are looking at you, Tampa Bay. Based on nothing more than your desire to redefine managerial lunacy at every turn. Check out Tapeleg's take on where Avery should end up. And the Iowa Chops had crossed our minds, too.)

If there's a chance another team jumps ahead of the Rangers in the queue, Avery's agent Pat Morris is making it clear that his client isn't going to suit up to be a sideshow with three years left on his deal. From Heika:

Avery's agent Pat Morris told The Fan radio in Toronto that teams should be committed to Avery if they put in a waiver claim.

"That's a possibility that could exist,'' Morris said when asked if another team could undercut the Rangers. "Some team could have lost five games in a row or doesn't have their building filled and need some pizzazz added to their team. But you better like the player and you better know the player because you've just added 50 cents on the dollar for this year and $6 million to your budget over the next three years for a player you're not certain of. That's where the difficulty rises. You better mean it."

Not the most welcoming message from agent to potential suitors, is it?

It's hard to see this as anything but "Rangers or bust" from the Avery camp. But strange things have happened to other "sure things" on the waiver wire. Ask Wade Dubielewicz about that.