The Tampa Bay Lightning have placed forwards Brian Hart and Cam Darcy on unconditional waivers for the purposes of contract termination as reported by CapFriendly.com.
Both players were set to enter the final seasons of their respective three-year entry level contracts. For these players, 2016-17 saw them split time between the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL and the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL. Neither were big contributors for the Crunch in their two professional seasons, contributing a total of 28 points in 148 combined games.
Hart was originally drafted in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. After putting up a combined 229 points in 104 high school games, Hart was set to join Harvard University after being drafted. He went into NCAA as a big-bodied power forward, but failed to dominate in the college ranks. He finished his NCAA career with 50 points in 98 games over three seasons. He turned pro following his junior season. The past two seasons he has played 58 games in the AHL and 69 games in the ECHL.
Cam Darcy was an overaged pick in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was eligible to play in the AHL that season. However, he did not make the Crunch roster and the Lightning sent him back to the QMJHL to play an overage season. He did not take the demotion well and reportedly had some attitude problems and was not performing as well as he had the previous season for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. He was traded to the Sherbrooke Phoenix and his play significantly picked up.
Darcy spent his rookie pro season entirely with the Syracuse Crunch, scoring 12 points in 56 games. He split last season between the AHL, with seven points in 34 games for the Crunch, and the K-Wings, with 25 points in 20 games.
Darcy had more offensive success than Hart, especially in the ECHL, but neither were overly impressive in the AHL, mostly playing bottom-line roles.
With a influx of young talent joining the Syracuse Crunch this season, there simply was not room for either Darcy or Hart to make much of an impact on the Crunch. They were both slated to head to the ECHL and serve as depth for the AHL club. Instead, the Lightning have set both prospects loose, which will allow them to attempt to latch on with another club or even seek opportunities in Europe if they prefer.
This also brings down the Lightning’s count of NHL contracts from 47 to 45 after taking out slide contracts for players signed but returning to juniors. Without making this move, if Mikhail Sergachev and Brett Howden were to make the team, it would put the team at 49 NHL contracts. Being so close to the 50 contract limit would limit what the Lightning could do in trade through the rest of the season, and could require them to trade a player that was on an NHL contract to get a deal done. This way, even if both of those junior players make the Lightning, the team would still have three open roster spots and up to five if both were sent back to juniors.
We wish Brian Hart and Cam Darcy the best of luck as they continue their hockey careers.