Lyon Hockey

Build the best 2022-23 NHL Opening Night roster using goals above replacement

The NHL season is finally upon us and with that comes a slew of players being waived as rosters are finalized. The start of the 2022-23 season means a tough decision has to be made. As an exercise, we constructed the best possible roster from the waiver thread using’s Goals Above Replacement (GAR) metric.

The NHL’s range of exemptions

Using a minimum of 50 minutes of on-ice time in 2021-22 as a filter, the best exempted players in terms of GAR were identified. The forwards were slotted into the line-up using their traditional positions and the defensive sides were ignored. A full list of waivers was acquired from Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) Twitter timeline. GAR was the only statistic used to compile this list, and no subjective factoring was applied to players’ experience, potential, or any other intangibles – it’s purely best to worst.


The Calgary Flames waived GAR’s top forward by sending Radim Zohorna to the AHL after picking him up from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Every striker is positive in terms of GAR, so it’s a sign that there are plenty of good-to-replacement level talent that have been dropped from rosters across the league.

The Detroit Red Wings also waived two top GAR players in Austin Czarnik and Matt Luff, and also waived Taro Hirose to complete the fourth waiver line. The Colorado Avalanche are the other team to give up two players from this roster in Anton Blidh and Martin Kaut.


GAR’s best defenseman was Michael Del Zotto, who was waived by the Florida Panthers. Six defenders were positive at net, followed by two defenders who were just shy. Coincidentally, the Flames end up in this list as well, with Juso Valimaking as the seventh/eighth defenseman.


Alex Lyon was waived by the Florida Panthers as GAR’s only positive goaltender. Lyon was the best goaltender based on the metric, but was the top of a very weak group posting only a 1.1 GAR (compare that to Flames replacement Dan Vladar who posted a 7.1 GAR). last year).

After claiming Valimaki, the Arizona Coyotes had another negative addition by claiming Connor Ingram from the Nashville Predators.

Notes on the range of full exemptions

While it’s certainly not an all-star roster and most of the players on this list won’t find an NHL home this season, there are a few worth noting.

Michael Del Zotto outplays the next closest defender by over 5.0 GAR. Radim Zohorna was by far the strongest left winger using GAR and former Flame Austin Czarnik was the best center with a 5.0 GAR. The duo led their next positional competition by at least 3.0 GAR.

Florida had the most players in the roster with four – a forward, two defensemen and a goaltender.

give up goodbye

Lineup decisions are extremely difficult at this time of year. It’s very obvious for players like Nicolas Meloche’s Flames. Meloche achieved his dreams in the NHL before learning that his dreams were immediately dashed. Hopefully he will see some time in the NHL.

Ultimately, hockey is a business and feelings should be put aside. Few of those players will be claimed and a grueling AHL season will begin again. The Flames still seem to be looking to fill a wing position before the start of the season and the Flames faithful are eager to see what Brad Treliving and company will do to adjust the roster at the start of the season.

Hopefully the chemistry develops faster in serious games for the new additions on the first two lines. Hold on to your seats, Calgary, the 2022-23 season is here!