By Allan Muir
While general managers still have to worry about what to do with expiring contracts ahead of the April 3 trade deadline, one big concern has been taken off their plates.
The old American Hockey League Clear Day roster deadline, once a hand-in-hand event with the NHL trade deadline, is no more, thanks to the new CBA.
What does that mean? In the past, teams had to determine which eligible players they would make available to their farm teams for the postseason the same day as the trade deadline. Once those decisions were made, NHL teams were limited to four minor league call-ups the rest of the regular season, unless an emergency situation dictated the need for more.
And now? NHL clubs still have to decide which eligible players they want to participate in the chase for the Calder Cup, but they won't have to worry about the paper transactions -- sending players down to the A and then recalling them in time to play that night -- that used to take up valuable time on the busiest day of the year.
More importantly, the four recalls limitation is gone, which benefits both the parent and farm club.
In the past, if an NHL team needed a player, it would call him up and keep him even if he wasn't playing so that if it needed him again sometime in the future it wouldn't have to use two (or more) of its four recalls for the same player. Now a player can be called up and returned as many times as needed. That's a huge benefit to AHL teams, which may still lose key players at critical junctures, but no longer have to watch those players sitting in an NHL press box when they could be helping out down on the farm. The AHL trade deadline was also moved to April 10. That gives AHL clubs an extra week after the NHL deadline to negotiate trades, signings and players loans. And playoff rosters are now due, sensibly, at the end of the regular season.