Now that the trade deadline has passed, there are a new set of rules in play for player movement in the NHL. Most of this is covered on Cap Friendly in their CBA section, but with some Leafs-specific context, here are the rules:
The 23-man limit is gone, but the salary cap isn’t. Teams can have any number of players on the roster who will fit under the cap.
Recalls and Reassignments
There are limits on recalling players from the AHL and for sending players down. Teams are limited to four regular recalls from the AHL. Emergency recalls do not count towards the four. Emergency recalls are not the same as an emergency exception to the salary cap — a situation we’re likely to see the Rangers in any day now — where the team plays shorthanded and then can recall a player for free. An ordinary emergency recall happens when a team drops below 18 skaters and two goalies. Joe Woll is currently on emergency recall.
Players under contract who are in junior leagues can be recalled and don’t count towards the four allowed. New players off the reserve list can be signed to contracts and can play in the NHL. Other players — European free agents finishing league play, for example — cannot be signed to play in the NHL post-deadline.
Reassignment to the minors is almost entirely off limits now, with a few exceptions. If the player was on recall post-deadline they can be sent back. To that end, Joe Woll was “papered down” at 3 pm on deadline day and then recalled again on emergency recall. This makes him eligible to be sent down when Matt Murray is cleared to play, he can play in the AHL playoffs as well. And the Leafs still have four recalls left.
No one else currently on the Leafs’ list of healthy players can be sent down. However, both Victor Mete and Carl Dahlström can be sent to the AHL on LITR conditioning loans, and if ready to play, can be sent to the AHL with their consent because of their prior status as injured and their lack of games played in the NHL.
Waivers, Trades and SPCs
Waivers still exist, and any player that needs to clear waivers to be sent down will have to do that. Waiver claims post-deadline never happen because the player cannot play in the NHL even in the regular season.
Trades can happen — the Leafs made a post-deadline trade last year — but again, the player cannot play in the NHL in the regular season or the playoffs. They are usually only AHL trades for players entirely in the minors on NHL deals. The AHL trade deadline is March 10.
The Leafs currently have 49 SPCs that count against the limit, so unless they make an SPC clearing AHL-level trade like last year’s post-deadline move of Brennan Menell, they can only sign Matt Knies to a contract that begins this season.
New Signings and the AHL
March 1 marked the date that new contracts beginning next season can be signed, so if the Leafs wanted to sign someone off the reserve list for next year, they can. Those contracts don’t count against the current year’s SPC count.
Free agent players or players on an NHL reserve list graduating off of junior hockey or the NCAA can be signed to AHL deals, even after the March 10 deadline, and they can play in the playoffs. The Leafs usually find some interesting juniors as they finish their careers.
Players like Ty Voit or Braeden Kressler who are already on NHL contracts can go to the AHL on ATOs when their junior seasons end.
What this means
Once Matt Murray is activated and Joe Woll returns to the AHL, the Leafs should have Exactly $850,000 in LTIR pool, leading the cynics amongst us to assume Matt Knies has already agreed to his ELC amount.
If a player is injured, or the Leafs wish to recall another forward before that space is filled by Knies, they are limited to that size of cap hit. The newly acquired Radim Zohorna can be recalled, as can Kyle Clifford, Bobby McMann, Alex Steeves or Nick Abruzzese, but Wayne Simmonds cannot be.
The Leafs have multiple road trips in the remaining 20 games and may choose to travel with an extra forward most of the time.
If a player is seriously injured, and will be out for at least 24 days, they can go on LTIR, of course.
The amount of space left is also enough to activate either Mete or Dahlström prior to their move to the AHL should they become healthy.
One final note on Dahlström, because of the way SOIR works, $78,750 of his cap hit counts while he is injured. If he were to become healthy — he is skating now — and return to the AHL, the LTIR pool would rise to $928,750, enough to recall Simmonds or pay Knies the maximum ELC amount allowed for him of $925,000.
Funny how these numbers all worked out so neat and tidy, isn’t it?