Alex Auld understands the timing, and appreciates the gesture.
Joe Nieuwendyk could have held onto Auld, tried to move Marty Turco at the March 3 trade deadline and then simply cast aside the backup goalie if he couldn't get a deal done. That is the way of player movement in a salary-capped NHL.
Instead, Nieuwendyk made the decision earlier this week that he would prefer to keep Turco, and so he started Auld on a waiver process that both sides hope will put the 29-year-old goalie on an NHL roster. Auld cleared primary waivers on Thursday and was assigned to the Texas Stars (AHL). He will be put on recall waivers today, and any team that might need a backup goalie can get him for $125,000 for the remainder of the season.
Auld's contract is for $1 million this season, so the new team and the Stars would split his remaining pay of $250,000 (that's the difference between primary waivers and recall waivers).
Auld should know by noon on Saturday whether or not he is picked up.
``I'm hoping to get a chance with another NHL team, that would be the best situation,'' Auld said.
Auld has played in 204 NHL games with Vancouver, Florida, Phoenix, Boston, Ottawa and Dallas. He has an 83-81-28 record with a 2.78 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Acquired in the summer from Ottawa to back up Marty Turco, he's had a 9-6-3 record this season with a 3.00 GAA and .894 save percentage.
So he believes he will indeed play in the NHL again.
That said, it's tough to be a professional athlete and try to dedicate yourself to a team, knowing that a trade or a waiver wire move could be lurking around any corner.
``This is a tough one, because I don't think I've ever felt so at home so quickly on a team,'' Auld said. ``I love the area, I love the team, and it just seems like I've been here a lot longer than I have.''
Auld said goalie Marty Turco is a big reason for that.
``He's such a good guy and a great teammate,'' Auld said. ``When I was traded, one of the first voicemails I had on the cell phone was from him, welcoming me here and saying how much he looks forward to becoming a goaltending tandem. We've obviously competed at times here this season, but I never felt that he wasn't supporting me, and I never felt like I wasn't supporting him. You were excited if the other guy had a great game.''
Auld has become expendable because of the acquisition of Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta. Lehtonen, 26, is the Stars goalie of the future and needs to work into the lineup after missing all of this season with back problems. He will now share time in net with Turco.
If Auld is not picked up on recall waivers, he will be assigned to the Texas Stars and probably finish out the season there. He said he's prepared himself for that option and would go in with a good attitude.
``I know they're doing a good job down there, and some of the best times in my career came when I was playing in Manitoba,'' Auld said of a three-season run in the AHL from 2002-05. ``You can definitely get into a great situation where you're making a run to the playoffs, and I'm sure they have that feeling there right now.''
The Texas Stars are 31-21-3-4 and in fourth place in the West Division.