As is often the case, teams don’t announce their deadline day moves to the AHL and back. It has taken until this morning to know exactly what the Leafs did, and where this puts them in terms of salary cap issues and playoff eligibility.
One poorly understood rule about the deadline is this one:
Reminder: Per NHL rules, a player must be on an @TheAHL roster at 3 ET today in order to be eligible to be sent down from the NHL at any time for the rest of the season. #NHLTradeDeadline— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) March 21, 2022
This isn’t just about playoff eligibility, although that’s included in this rule. This means exactly what it says: No NHL team can remove a player from their roster post-deadline unless they are “on recall” from the AHL.
Before deadline day, the only player on the Maple Leafs roster who could be sent down was Erik Källgren, since he was an emergency recall for an injured goalie. The point of “papering down” players on deadline day is to make them eligible for AHL playoffs, but for the Leafs, with Jake Muzzin likely to come off LTIR at some point, they will need to cut players for cap space, so they had to make that possible.
As you know, they waived Petr Mrázek and Kyle Clifford the day before the deadline, and both of those players cleared. Clearing waivers is not the same as being sent to the AHL. That’s a separate choice that had to be made, and with Mrázek, the question is complicated by the loss of Harri Säteri to the Coyotes.
All players sent to the AHL, such as Nick Robertson a few days ago, can be recalled to the NHL, but there is a limit of four recalls for non-emergency purposes.
Here’s what the Leafs did, per the AHL and Cap Friendly transactions pages:
- Kyle Clifford was sent to the AHL and not recalled
- Joseph Duszak was added to the Leafs roster for practice and then returned to the AHL
- Teemu Kivihalme was also added and returned in the same way
- Erik Källgren was papered down and back up, making him eligible for the either playoffs and he can be sent down in the future
- Timothy Liljegren was also papered down and back up in the same way
- And finally: Petr Mrázek was papered down and back up, meaning he can be sent down in the future, which might be necessary to fit Muzzin on the roster, and he is also now available on the Leafs to play games in the near future. /
Because Rasmus Sandin is hurt, he could not be papered down, so he cannot be sent down for the rest of the season. Even though he is waivers exempt, he cannot be used in any sort of salary cap shuffle to make space, even temporarily. Liljegren can be.
Mrázek is now waivers exempt for 29 days and nine games played. After one of those counters is up, he would need to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL, even as part of a cap-space move.
Källgren’s recall is again as an emergency loan, meaning he doesn’t count as one of the four regular recalls. Liljegren and Mrázek do. At the moment, Källgren and Mrázek are the only goalies on the NHL roster who are healthy.
Given the circumstances, this is the best possible set of moves, and is exactly what we should expect from the Leafs.