6:00 pm: The NHL has officially reintroduced the taxi squad system through the All-Star Break, per CapFriendly. Like last season, there is a six-player maximum to the taxi squads. However, there are some slight changes. Non-emergency-recalled-players who were on an NHL active roster, injured reserve, or NHL non-rostered on December 22 aren’t eligible to go on the taxi squad. Waiver-exempt players aren’t eligible, either, and neither are players who’ve dressed in 16 of their team’s past 20 games. There are other minor stipulations as well.
1:15 pm: Amidst a rapidly escalating number of players being unavailable due to their placement in COVID protocols, the NHL and NHLPA are working on a few different short-term solutions, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman (Twitter link). Among those is the recreation of taxi squads which would be optional for teams to use and would run through the All-Star break in early February.
The taxi squads were in use for all of last season with a record number of daily transactions occurring as teams shuffled players back and forth. Some were to keep players fresh and seeing game action in the minors while many were simply to get players off the salary cap on days where they weren’t playing. Assuming those same rules were to apply this season, there will be considerable activity on that front once again.
Of course, there are other considerations at play. AHL teams are already starting to have their rosters stretched thin due to outbreaks and recalls for players either in COVID protocol or out due to injury. There would be short-term pressures at the lower minor league levels with many ECHL players signing AHL deals, creating holes for the ECHL teams to fill and so on.
Friedman notes that there are other options being discussed as well. Cap-exempt emergency recalls with a player making less than $1MM is apparently on the table and that price point – which sits $250K above the minimum salary – is high enough for most teams to be able to call players up without much issue. Meanwhile, with several teams having to turn to emergency backups on one-day contracts – commonly referred to as EBUG’s – Friedman reports that teams may soon be allowed to simply recall a replacement netminder rather than having to have an EBUG dress for a game first to trigger a cap-exempt recall situation.
An official announcement on the schedule, as well as any changes to protocols such as these, is expected later today.