Trying to understand the CBA can be challenging enough in a regular NHL season, let alone with all the special exceptions created for the 56-game campaign of 2021.
Taxi squads were the first thing to throw most people off balance a bit. We did a deep dive on that subject here and it answered most of the key questions regarding players moving between the AHL-taxi-NHL.
With the Trade Deadline now come and gone, it’s important to note another key milestone that took place this week regarding call-ups to an NHL roster.
Essentially, two additional rules are now in play. First, if you were one of the 23 players on an NHL roster at noon on Monday, you cannot be sent down to the AHL for the balance of the season.
From what we’ve been able to gather, it appears LA had the following roster players when the cutoff happened:
Goaltenders (2) — Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen
Defensemen (8) — Mikey Anderson, Toby Bjornfot *, Drew Doughty, Olli Maatta, Kurtis MacDermid, Matt Roy *, Sean Walker, and Christian Wolanin
Forwards (13) — Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Andreas Athanasiou, Dustin Brown, Carl Grundstrom, Alex Iafallo, Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe, Brendan Lemieux, Matt Luff, Blake Lizotte, Trevor Moore, Gabe Vilardi, and Austin Wagner
* For clarification purposes, even though Bjornfot and Roy are not currently available to play, both are part of the roster. Bjornfot is not on IR and is expected back in a few more games. Roy entered protocol on April 3. Although that is usually about a 14-day process, it varies by situation and reason. Assuming it’s a more normal case, Roy could be back early next week.
Another noticeable aspect to the above list is the inclusion of Luff and Wolanin. Neither player is now eligible to be sent down to the AHL (or taxi squad) for the remainder of the season.
Which now gets us to the meat of the situation.
Per CBA guidelines, only four call-ups are allowed for the balance of the season — from the AHL, ECHL, or even the taxi squad — for non-injury related purposes. There are special emergency exceptions allowed if enough healthy players aren’t available, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
The most common question has been, ‘How does the taxi squad play into all of this?’ For the purposes described in this article, taxi and AHL are the same thing. This is all about spots on the NHL roster, which a player must be listed on in order to play in an actual game.
Sticking with the ‘four call-up rule,’ LA had to use one of those call-ups on Kale Clague due to the lack of defensemen available recently, as Roy and Bjornfot remain sidelined. Thus, Clague is eligible to be loaned to the AHL again, if needed.
It also means the Kings have a maximum of three more call-ups available this season.
As we understand things, the current plan is to call Quinton Byfield up for one of those spots
early next week when the Kings return home from Colorado. He will taxi with the team during the week and then is roughly targeted for his NHL debut on April 26.
UPDATE – APRIL 19: Current timeline calls for Byfield to play two more games for the Reign this coming weekend (Sat 4/24 at Bakersfield, Sun 4/25 vs. San Jose), then be called up to LA.
Currently, Byfield is with AHL Ontario. They have two more games scheduled this week, Thursday vs. San Diego and Friday vs. Bakersfield.
Last night, Byfield picked up an assist. Prior to the injury, he had recorded 11 points in 10 games. Overall, the 18-year-old center is tied for the Reign lead in points with Arthur Kaliyev. He’s also tied for fourth in goals (7) and points (19) among all AHL rookies.
Another well-known Kings center also made his NHL debut vs. the Anaheim Ducks – and had a pretty successful night in the process.
Plus, as noted yesterday, Byfield’s debut wouldn’t be the only special aspect to the game on April 26. We’ve learned the Kings will soon announce that night as bonus Reverse Retro game.
After Byfield, that would leave the Kings with only two call-ups available over the final month of the season. Prospects Alex Turcotte, Sammy Fagemo, Akil Thomas, and Sean Durzi would be among the leading contenders. While it’s possible Rasmus Kupari or Kaliyev – who scored in his one NHL game earlier this season – could be recalled, we’ll assume that it’s more likely the organization will give two other players the brief experience.
At the moment, we’d suggest Turcotte will eventually get one of the remaining call-ups, leaving the final spot to most likely come from Thomas or Fagemo – with the former probably getting the nod.
Now that you’re in the mood to read more about the rules of hockey, be sure to check out the article below regarding where NHL prospects are allowed to play and why.
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