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Sharks claim Rudolfs Balcers off waivers

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Sweet baby Balcers is back!

Rudolfs Balcers #38 of the Ottawa Senators high-fives fans as he leaves the ice after warmup prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Canadian Tire Centre on January 4, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Erik Karlsson trade tree continues to trickle down, as Rudolfs Balcers will make his return to the team that drafted him. Placed on waivers by the Ottawa Senators yesterday, Balcers was claimed by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday morning.

Balcers is among four players claimed off of the waiver wire this morning: the Carolina Hurricanes claimed goaltender Anton Forsberg, the New Jersey Devils took goaltender Eric Comrie and the Nashville Predators claimed defender Luca Sbisa.

The Sharks originally drafted Balcers in the fifth round (142 overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft, out of the Stavanger Oilers of the Norwegian Eliteserien. That pick, in another trade tree, came to the Sharks by the way of the New York Islanders, in exchange for Dan Boyle in 2014. Balcers played with the San Jose Barracuda for one season, in 2017-18, where he led the team in goals (23), points (48) and shots on goal (165) and ranked second in assists (25), in just his second year playing in North America.

In September 2018, the Sharks traded Balcers, along with Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris and up to four conditional picks (ultimately, the Senators received a 2020 first, 2021 second and 2019 second) for defender Erik Karlsson.

Due to the 2018-19 Senators roster being what it was (not great!), the 21-year-old Balcers was able to appear in 36 NHL games that season, putting up 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in the Senators’ bottom-six. Playing primarily with the Belleville Senators over the last two seasons, he’s appeared in 76 AHL games, totaling 33 goals and 34 assists.

Because he is no longer waivers-eligible, the Sharks will have to retain Balcers on their NHL roster, or risk losing him to the Senators (or someone else). He signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators as a restricted free agent in October. His NHL cap hit is $735,000, while his AHL salary drops to $70,000.

The Latvian winger would also require waivers to be assigned to the Sharks’ taxi squad.