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How The NHL’s Post-Trade Deadline Roster Rules Affect The Predators



Photo of Spencer Stastney by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Nashville Hockey Now has published several stories this season breaking down how the Nashville Predators have navigated the particulars of the CBA when it pertains to money-saving paper transactions, when waiver exemption can expire, the conditions of emergency call ups, how long-term injured reserve and IR affect roster size and regulations regarding players claimed on waivers.

And now that the NHL trade deadline has come and passed, we’re diving into the changes in the league’s rules regarding roster construction, particularly when it comes to call ups from the American Hockey League.

From opening night to 12 a.m. ET on March 8, teams were required to comply with both the salary cap and the 23-man roster maximum designations. But at 12:01 a.m. ET on March 8, the 23-man roster maximum was lifted.

After recalling defenseman Spencer Stastney from the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday, the Predators roster is at 24, and they’re approximately $6.25 million under the salary cap.

The NHL’s only requirement with the new roster size is that teams remain compliant with the salary cap until the final day of the regular season. The salary cap does not factor into playoff rosters, and yes, that’s where long-term injured reserve comes into play most prominently.

However, the most applicable aspect of the roster increase affects what a team can do with recalling players on its reserved list (meaning under contract) from other leagues.

Per the CBA, teams are permitted to make four regular recalls and unlimited emergency recalls post-trade deadline. It should be noted that any player who was not under contract with an NHL team at 3 p.m. ET on March 8 is ineligible for the playoffs. This includes players in the KHL, free agents like Phil Kessel, or any NCAA free agents who sign after their respective college seasons end.

Regular recalls include adding a player to the NHL roster, regardless of the reason. The Predators could use their recalls to bring Philip Tomasino or Juuso Parssinen up to the main roster at some point, or in the event of an injury like Dante Fabbro, they can call up a player like Stastney.

It’s also important to note that because the aforementioned players were on the AHL roster once the trade deadline passed, they are all available to the Admirals for the AHL playoffs. Players like Mark Jankowski are not because he was not on the AHL roster at that time.

Regular recalls are simple enough. A player from Milwaukee comes to Nashville. That’s a regular recall. The four regular recalls are based on the conditions of the recalls themselves, not the players. For example, if Stastney is sent down three more times and recalled a fourth. That’s four transactions. It doesn’t matter that it was the same player, so strategy is involved as well.

Emergency recalls are a bit more confusing and ambiguous at times, as can be seen on my live analysis yesterday regarding Stastney.

A team is eligible to use an emergency recall post-deadline when its roster falls below 12 forwards, six defenseman, or two goalies at any point.

The Stastney situation was initially interesting because not every Predators defenseman practiced on Tuesday during the team’s optional skate in Nashville prior to departing for Winnipeg.

With Wednesday being a game day, Fabbro’s injury officially takes the team down to six defenseman, thus an emergency designation would not be permitted. However, in the event any of the other six defensemen were also injured (or listed as a game-time decision), that would permit Stastney to count as an emergency designation. 

If Stastney was an emergency recall, he would then have to then be re-designated as a regular recall. The emergency designation for Yaroslav Askarov back in December can be viewed on Dec. 27, which is distinguishable from Stastney’s scenario here.

In short, Nashville has three regular recalls left after Nashville’s decision to recall Stastney on Tuesday.

Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10

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