With the NHL scheduled to resume activities tomorrow, the league has re-introduced the “Taxi Squad.” The idea of the taxi squad is to allow teams to travel with more than the standard 23 players allowed on an NHL roster so they have a better chance to field a full roster if they run into COVID complications while on the road.
The league’s current plan is to allow for taxi squads to exist from now until the final game prior to the All Star Break. For the Golden Knights, that would be a home game on February 1st against the Buffalo Sabres. Each team is permitted to assign a maximum of six players to their taxi squad, but no player can remain on the taxi squad for more than 20 days.
So, let’s dive into some frequently asked questions about the taxi squad and how it’ll affect the Golden Knights.
Who will be on the Golden Knights’ taxi squad?
Basically, any player who was not on the active roster as of December 22nd OR has played fewer than 16 of the teams last 20 games is eligible to be on the taxi squad. VGK will likely use a combination of rookies that have played in games earlier this season. Players like Jake Leschyshyn, Paul Cotter, Jonas Rondbjerg, Ben Jones and Daniil Miromanov.
Can this help the Golden Knights’ salary cap constraints?
It cannot, for multiple reasons. First off, the league has specifically stated in the CBA amendments that they will check every taxi squad transaction to ensure it is being used for its intended purpose and not for salary cap circumvention (as it was by many teams including the Golden Knights last season). But beyond that, the Golden Knights are currently using LTIR to remain cap compliant. While that is the case, they would not be able to bank extra cap space by shuttling players on and off the active roster as they have done in the past.
Does this change anything with Jack Eichel’s status?
Not really. Once Eichel is ready to return to practice, he is allowed to do so. He will remain on LTIR until he is ready to play in an NHL game. While he is on LTIR, the Golden Knights have plenty of cap space to operate. However, once he’s ready to play, Vegas will need to either replace his $10 million cap hit with other players on LTIR or trim their roster to operate under the salary cap.
Where it does help is that as long as the taxi squad exists it makes it easier to have just 20 players on the active roster as opposed to 23. Removing three players from the active roster will take at least $2.1 million off the salary cap. In normal times, that would mean VGK would not have any healthy scratches from games and would also not be allowed to have other healthy players practice with them. With the taxi squad, they can have up to six more players in practice and on the road with them and insert them into games if needed. The likelihood of having to play short players is greatly decreased, but it certainly still could happen.
If a taxi squad player plays in a game, do they have to clear waivers afterward?
It depends if the player is playing under a “roster emergency” circumstance or not. If the team is short players, the new rules allow them to use a player from the taxi squad and not have them count against the salary cap nor the active roster limit. Then, because that player was recalled due to an emergency, he is not required to pass through waivers.
**If you have any other questions about the taxi squad you would like answered, please post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.**