The annual NHL holiday roster freeze starts Monday at midnight, effectively shutting down any player movement until after the holidays. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article 16.5(d)) outlines that NHL rosters are frozen from December 19th at 11:59pm through to December 28th at 12:01am. That means no trades, no loans, and no waivers. As with almost every CBA section, however, there are certain exceptions to the no-movement period:
- Players recalled from the minors. A player can be recalled from a team’s AHL or ECHL team during the roster freeze. This allows teams to replace injured NHL players with those in the AHL.
- Players claimed from waivers if placed before the roster freeze. If a player was placed on Regular Waivers before the freeze, and was claimed during the freeze, that player will still have to report to his new club immediately.
- Players reassigned after emergency recall. Any player in the NHL on an emergency recall may be loaned back to his minor league team during the freeze.
- Waiver-exempt players recalled after December 11th. Any waiver-exempt player recalled after December 11th may be loaned back to his minor league team until 11:59pm on December 23rd.
- Any movement necessary to make room for a player returning from LTIR. Teams are permitted to waive or reassign players if the team needs to make roster space for a player returning from Long-Term Injury Reserve. The clause states any transactions necessary, but it is unclear whether that would allow trades between NHL teams (assuming the moving team received non-frozen assets in return).
Aside from these exceptions, NHL rosters remain static until the 28th to provide stability for players and their families during the holiday period.