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Wednesday FTB: NHL trying to wrap their head around alternative roster options

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Taxi squads, expanded rosters, and how the hell to work all of that within the cap system?

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

A week or two ago, we were told that the NHL and NHLPA were moving past talking about contentious money issues. Now, there has been talk that the league is working on some kind of expanded roster system to deal with the inevitable issue of having a bunch of players test positive on the same team at once. Without it, there would be more games suspended and more scrambling to fill a roster that’s playable or to reschedule those games.

In last night’s Insider Trading, they talked about the difficulties the league and player’s association is having trying to figure out how they can make any alternative roster options fit within their cap system.

From Dreger:

,,,there are so many issues around roster size, taxi squads, how that’s going to impact the American Hockey League as an example. Will waivers be required for players to clear to be placed on a taxi squad? How many players can be there? How do you activate that player from the taxi squad and how many moves can you freely make as an NHL club? So, there’s a lot to work through.

This will be something the Leafs will likely be keenly interested in. They will be running a shorter roster due to their cap constraints, and they also have a whole lot of depth options fighting for roster spots at every position.

At forward, you will have Jimmy Vesey, Ilya Mikheyev, Alexander Barabanov, Nick Robertson, Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Pierre Engvall and Travis Boyd all fighting for six forward spots. On defense, you have Zach Bogosian, Rasmus Sandin, Mikko Lehtonen, and Travis Dermott fighting for two (or three) spots on defense. In net things are more clear, but the Leafs would love to be able to keep Aaron Dell close by without worrying about losing him on waivers.

The Leafs have so many potential players fighting for only a small handful of roster spots that they by far have the most players of any other Canadian team arriving for their training camp.

So here’s a bit of what’s being talked about how it might work:

Seravalli: And part of the focus in these discussions over the last number of weeks has been these transactions between rosters and taxi squads as it relates to the salary cap. We know that’s not changing at $81.5 million but if your roster size is a maximum of 25, then how do you transition players to that taxi squad? We’re told that at this point it would seem to be like a normal AHL transaction in the sense that no, the player is not leaving town but his salary cap hit would come off the books unless it’s one of those larger salaries that you’re trying to bury. Everything except for $1.075 million would count against your cap. So, moving forward, there’s all sorts of permutations and language that needs to be figured out including accrued seasons, pro seasons, all things that relate to the expansion draft. So many things to sort through, guys.

So there are two parts being talked about. First, expanding the maximum roster size to 25. However, this would have to fit under the cap... which means only a small handful of teams would be able to do that right now, and most of them would be the bad teams like Detroit and Ottawa. This is something that the Leafs would not be able to take advantage of, since they’re already going to run a smaller roster of 21 players.

Then there’s this taxi squad, which seems like it’s an extra reserve that would be treated as the equivalent of being in the AHL. But does that mean someone would have to clear waivers? Would there be rules about them being able to practice with the NHL team to stay in shape, or only being able to move players from this taxi squad in special circumstances (i.e., COVID cases)?

Whatever rules they come up with, you can bet the Leafs will exploit the wording and loopholes in a way that leads to reports from Friedman that rival NHL teams are mad and crying unfair.

ONTO THE LINKS

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Maple Leafs Prospect Report: World juniors, injury updates, rising stock, more | by Joshua Kloke at The Athletic

Where do the Toronto Maple Leafs stack up in the all-Canadian division? | by Anthony Petrelli at MLHS

Maple Leafs aim to mimic Lightning’s 7-11 blueprint | by TSN.ca

Our precious Russian boy Rodion Amirov giving us a glimpse of life inside the Edmonton bubble.

NHL Rumour Roundup: Latest on Travis Hamonic, Mathew Barzal | by Sportsnet

Bob McKenzie put out his first 2021 NHL Draft rankings, looking at the top 20 players. There’s some surprises in here, including Carson Lambos being all the way down at 17th when many public scouts consider him as a potential no. 1 overall and almost universally a top 10 guy.

Speaking of prospects, let’s all watch Filip Kral out there breaking ankles and scoring some sick shorties.

Have a great Monday everyone!