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Leafs swap Enroth for Bibeau in advance of the NHL Holiday Roster Freeze

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NHL rosters are carved in ice from midnight on the 19th until the 28th of December.

Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs
Freeze! Don’t move!

The Leafs have sent Antoine Bibeau to the Marlies and called up Jhonas Enroth.

The Marlies play Saturday and Sunday, while the Leafs play Saturday and Monday. This move can get Bibeau into a game on the weekend, since Frederik Andersen will likely start both Leafs games.

The timing of this is complicated by the Christmas season roster freeze which is written into the CBA. The Holiday Roster Freeze begins Monday, December 19 at midnight. It applies to everyone on the NHL roster and prevents most demotions to the AHL between then and December 28.

Per the CBA:

(d) Holiday Roster Freeze.

(i) For all Players on an NHL Active Roster, Injured Reserve, or Players with Non-Roster and Injured Non-Roster status as of 11:59 p.m. local time on December 19, a roster freeze shall apply through 12:01 a.m. local time December 28, with respect to Waivers, Trades and Loans; provided, however, that Players may be Recalled to NHL Clubs during this period and, provided further, that if a Player is placed on Regular Waivers prior to the roster freeze period and is claimed during such roster freeze period, the roster freeze period shall not apply and the Player shall immediately report to the claiming Club. However, during the roster freeze period a Club can make any Player transactions necessary for the Club to come into compliance with Article 50 as a result of a Player being removed from the Bona-Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception.

(ii) Notwithstanding Section 16.5(d)(i), a Player on emergency Recall may be Loaned during the roster freeze period and a Player who was Recalled after December 11 may be Loaned through 11:59 p.m. local time on December 23, provided such Player is not required to be placed on Waivers during the roster freeze period in order to effectuate such Loan.

(iii) No later than ten (10) days before the holiday roster freeze, the League shall provide the NHLPA with a holiday roster freeze and restricted day memorandum.

The Leafs have a fairly stable roster most of the time, and their transactions have been limited lately to goalies. So this will apply almost exclusively to Bibeau and Enroth. If Bibeau had been kept on the roster through Monday night, he would stay on the roster for sure for the entire period of the freeze.

In that time period the Leafs play one set of back-to-back games just before Christmas, on the road in Colorado and Arizona. On the 28th and 29th, they are in Florida playing another pair of games. The Leafs may want to start someone other than Andersen on both of those occasions.

But other than that, Bibeau would be idle, which isn’t good for a prospect goaltender.

Now that this swap has occurred, the Leafs have a choice to make on Monday. If they want Bibeau back with the Leafs, they have to call him up before the freeze. If they do that, he falls under the heading of someone called up after December 11. He can be sent back down at will until the 23rd. Enroth will also fall under the same rule, and he could be sent down before the freeze or after the road trip west or not at all.

The injury to Martin Marincin allows the Leafs to open up a roster spot by placing him on IR, so they can call Bibeau back up and keep both him and Enroth if they like. The Marlies have three goaltenders aside from Bibeau and Enroth in Garret Sparks, Jeff Glass and Karri Ramo.

The Leafs have achieved ultimate flexibility with this swap at this time, and that seems to be their desired state of being.

As for other potential moves, the roster freeze does not stop a team from calling up players for emergencies (like filing in for an injured defender, for example). But you can’t send anyone down on the 23rd to save money in the annual NHL Christmas tradition of giving players on two-way contracts a short pay cheque in December. Not unless they were called up after the 11th.

In addition to the freeze, the CBA also declares the 24th, 25th and 26th holidays, and teams may not travel or request that players consent to practice days. It is not uncommon, however, for players to arrange their own practices at least once in those three days.