Rudolfs Balcers has been claimed off waivers by the San Jose Sharks
The 23-year-old Balcers has been a big part of AHL Belleville’s rise in the past two seasons and has featured in 51 games at the NHL level. He posted 6 goals and 11 assists in that time.
Balcers was among the seven cuts the Ottawa Senators made to their camp yesterday, placing the winger on waivers, presumably in an attempt to integrate him with the team’s taxi squad. 24 hours on, and he’s now heading back to California where he’ll likely suit up with the team that drafted him.
The native of Liepaja, Latvia made his way to Ottawa in September 2018 as one of the six assets that the Senators acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade. He was a 5th round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Balcers’ ceiling at the NHL level is relatively unclear, but his shiftiness and speed will prove useful to the Sharks organization. He will now have the chance to crack a San Jose lineup that is clearly low on forward depth. Given what he’s shown in the AHL, he’ll likely have the inside track on a job.
Just a few months ago, many fans would’ve probably had Balcers pencilled into their opening night lineups. However, the off-season acquisitions of players like Alex Galchenyuk, Derek Stepan and Austin Watson among others, have made spots for younger players difficult to come by.
In the grand scheme of things, losing a player who’s not considered a top ten prospect isn’t a massive loss. However, it is frustrating to a lot of fans, as it appears that the Senators have prioritized playing several veterans with no long-term ties to the club, as opposed to those who have played big roles in Belleville. No matter which way you look at it, losing a young player who posted 36 points in 33 AHL games isn’t ideal.
The Senators will be hoping that they’ve lost another Matt Puempel on waivers, and not a Mike Hoffman. However, should Balcers not make the squad in San Jose, or be placed on waivers at any point in the season, the Senators will likely have first dibs on re-claiming him, depending on where they find themselves in the standings.
Filip Chlapik, Christian Jaros, Micheal Haley, J-C Beaudin, Logan Shaw and Matthew Peca all cleared waivers on Tuesday.