NHL: Taxi squads will be saving grace for some cap strapped teams

Isles doing everything to keep Barzal (Jessica Hill/Associated Press)

Teams in the NHL that are up against the cap and in some cases over it, are thanking their lucky stars for taxi squads. That’s because the new agreement allows teams to carry up to 6 players (1 of which must be a goalie, unless already carrying 3).

Taxis Squads to the rescue

So how does having a taxi squad help? Well an NHL roster at minimum must carry 20 players, a full lineup. That’s 12 forwards, 6 defenseman, and 2 goalies to fill up a lineup card.

Of course, teams carry extra players for emergency issues or if someone is slumping. Whether that’s one or three depends on that team’s cap situation. NHL rules set roster limits to 23.

Now with taxi squads, some of those teams over the cap can basically set a 20 man roster on the books (cap), and put those three players that put them over the cap on the taxi squad plus three more.

It’s a blessing for those teams, but does come with some jeopardy.

Some key rules of Taxi Squads

nhl taxi squads
Cirelli and Barzal battle (Getty Images)

CapFriendly has pulled together all the rules (see below). Players on the taxi squad may have to go through waivers if eligible, just as they need to with AHL call ups. For cap purposes, the salaries will be treated same as with AHL. In other words, if the salary is under $1.075M it will not count against the cap, anything over will.

Teams will leverage Taxi Squads

There are a handful of teams over or up against the NHL salary cap of $81.5 million. One of the best examples I can give you are the Vancouver Canucks. They currently have $0 in cap space and a full roster of 23 players.

A quick glance shows they have 15 forwards, only 6 defenseman, and two goalies signed. The Canucks are also very interested in signing Travis Hamonic but would have needed to do some cap gymnastics to figure it out.

RELATED: Flames and Canucks interested in Hamonic

Well now they can take three or four players making under $1.075M and move them to the taxi squad. That would free up almost $4 million to sign Hamonic.

Other teams like the Islanders and Lightning who are over the cap but have key RFAs to sign will get some relief from this too.

Saving grace for all teams with COVID-19 still lurking, but certainly one many teams will leverage against their cap issues.

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