Defenseman John Moore’s trip to the waiver wire was a quick one.
Placed on waivers in the name of optimizing cap space now and at the trade deadline — and after a strong camp, all things considered — Moore and his $2.75 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season went unclaimed, and quickly found himself ‘back’ with the Bruins. This wasn’t just a practice one-off, either, as Moore made the team’s initial roster for the start of the 2021-22 season.
The same cannot be said for fourth-line banger Chris Wagner, however, as the 30-year-old forward will indeed begin the season with Providence.
“Listen, he’s disappointed,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Wagner’s reaction to the move. “He wants to be here, he wants to help us win, feels he can. We just had tough decisions to make. It’s not like we said, ‘Well, he can’t play.’ We just decided, on that line, to go in a different direction. And then you run out of spots.”
This camp, the Bruins ran out of space for Wagner with their decision to go with Karson Kuhlman as a replacement for the injured Curtis Lazar on Boston’s fourth line. That fourth-line right wing spot had been Wagner’s since coming here in 2018, but with Tomas Nosek in town as that line’s new center, the line has a decidedly different look and feel, and the Bruins had concerns that Wagner wouldn’t be able to keep pace with its new motor. And in regards to the 13th forward spot that could have belonged to Wagner, the Bruins ultimately decided that they did not want to run the risk of losing the younger, cheaper Anton Blidh on waivers.
The B’s preference to go with two extra bodies on the backend (Moore and Jakub Zboril this time around) also hurt Wagner, and left him without an option but to drive down 95 and towards the Bruins’ AHL affiliate after he went unclaimed and did not make the B’s Opening Night roster.
Reporting to Providence will inevitably put Wagner on AHL ice for the first time since Feb. 2017, back when he was a member of the Ducks’ AHL affiliate San Diego Gulls.
But it’s an opportunity the Bruins think the Walpole, Mass. native will embrace in an attempt to make it back to the Big B’s.
“If I know Chris, he’ll go down and play hard,” said Cassidy. “He’s a good character guy. There’s two ways to look at it: Sometimes you’re going to go down there and get an opportunity to build your game in a different environment. Probably play a little more, and in different situations, and it can help you. He wouldn’t be the first guy to have to do that and work his way back. It’s not the plan when you’ve been in the league and already done it as a younger guy. That’s the part I feel for him. He did pay his dues.
“But at the end of the day, we just did what we felt was right for our roster and we hope that he’ll get his game to the place it needs to be so when he comes back he’s another guy we’ll be able preserve a spot.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.