During the 2020-21 season, the NHL will introduce “taxi squads” to rosters as insurance if there’s an outbreak of COVID-19. The taxi squad will feature four to six players who will make an AHL salary.
“We haven’t made any decisions on [who will be on it],” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Wednesday. “We’re going to have training camp. Obviously, we have a couple new coaches. They’ll come in, evaluate our needs on the taxi squad, make some decisions after training camp on who will be there, and then go from there.”
While MacLellan was unsure who exactly the team will pick beyond a third goaltender like Pheonix Copley, there’s one high-profile prospect he admits is “a possibility”: 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael. The Capitals’ top prospect is currently playing for Team Canada in the 2021 World Junior Championship and is on the cusp of being an NHL player.
“It depends,” MacLellan said when asked if McMichael would make sense in an overflow roster spot. “We’re going to have him come to camp after World Junior is over. He’s going to have to go through protocol so I don’t know how much camp he’ll get in. He’s a possibility for taxi squad. We’re not sure what the OHL’s doing. If they’re not playing.. playing. That’s going to factor into our decision. Maybe his performance at the World Junior and when he comes in. Did he take a big step forward? Where is he at development-wise? We’re going to talk about all those things. If it makes sense for him to be on the taxi squad, I think we’re open to it.”
Junior eligible players like McMichael, who are under 20-years-old, would normally only be eligible to play in the NHL or their junior team. MacLellan though said that “from my understanding,” junior eligible players could be on the taxi squad – a rare in-between that could stash top prospects in the NHL while junior leagues struggle to hold their seasons during the pandemic. The OHL is currently targeting February 4 to start its season.
“Obviously you don’t want young guys not playing and sitting on a taxi squad the whole year if there’s availability for them to play somewhere else,” MacLellan said. “I think it would hurt their development. And then also, if there’s not an ability to play it might be beneficial for them to be on the taxi squad. I think we’re going to balance development, what the coaches feel we need roster wise, and also, you can change your taxi squad as you go. You can take guys in and out. There’s flexibility there that we might take advantage of too. I think it’s going to be based on what our coaches think we need and development of players.”
McMichael scored 47 goals and 102 points in 52 games for the OHL’s London Knights last season. The prospect told The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir that he’s put on nearly ten pounds of muscle over the offseason as he’s waited for the delayed OHL season to start.
ATTACHMENT D: “TAXI SQUAD” REGULATIONS
NHL Clubs are permitted to Loan a minimum of four (4) and a maximum of six (6) Players to their “Taxi Squad”. All such Loans will be subject to Waiver requirements as applicable. The Players on Loan to the “Taxi Squad” will be permitted to travel and practice with the NHL Club, however, such Players can only play in an NHL Game if Recalled and placed on the NHL Club’s Active Roster before such NHL Game (and no later than 5:00 p.m. ET).
Notwithstanding the above, a “Taxi Squad” goaltender will be permitted to be Recalled after 5:00 p.m. ET for the purposes of playing in an NHL Game if the Club has less than two (2) goaltenders on its Active Roster who are able to play in the Club’s next game, and provided further that the Club either a) has appropriate Payroll Room to have effectuated a Recall of such a goaltender or b) all the requirements of CBA Section 50.10(e) (with the exception of Subparagraph (v) thereof) are satisfied. In the latter case, such goaltender would be eligible to play the game in accordance with such Section 50.10(e). The Club shall file a Recall for the goaltender as promptly as possible, and such Recall will be dated and effective as of 5:00 p.m. ET on the date of the NHL Game.
For purposes of clarity, any goaltender Recalled per CBA Section 13.12 after the daily 5:00 p.m. ET deadline will be included in both the Players’ Share and the Club’s Averaged Club Salary as of the date of such Recall.
Players may be Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” beginning on the last day of the NHL Club’s Training Camp and the “Taxi Squad” will dissolve on the day following the last day of the Regular Season. Following the dissolution of the “Taxi Squad”, the Players on Loan to the “Taxi Squad” may be Recalled or Reassigned by the NHL Club. Provided that travel and quarantine restrictions remain in place at the time, each Club participating in the Playoffs shall maintain sufficient number of Standby Players to be available to the Club to respond to urgent roster requirements without the need for travel.
Should a Club have fewer than three (3) goaltenders on its Active Roster, it must have at least one (1) goaltender on its Taxi Squad and the goaltender must be available at all NHL Games for the Club (both home and away).
Players Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” can participate in NHL Club practices and activities and travel with the NHL Club. Players Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” are not permitted to participate in practices and activities with Players/staff outside the NHL Club (i.e., such Players must remain the responsibility of the NHL Club and subject to all applicable Club Rules, including the requirements of the COVID-19 Protocol).
Although not all Players Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” are required to travel with the Club to all away games (except as may be required above in the case of a goaltender), it is recommended that a sufficient number of “Taxi Squad” Players travel with the Club to ensure an adequate number of Players are available for Recalls as may be necessary.
Should a Player who is Loaned by a Club to the “Taxi Squad” be deemed by the Club Physician to require a period of quarantine or isolation in connection with the operation of the COVID-19 Protocol, the Club will have the option to request that such Player be excluded from the six (6) Players permitted to be Loaned to the Club’s “Taxi Squad”. Such request and exclusion is subject to approval of the Commissioner or his designee. A Club cannot have more than two (2) Players so excluded at any one time.
Should a Player who is Loaned by a Club to its “Taxi Squad” be deemed Unfit to Play by the Club’s Physicians (other than by reasons covered by the COVID-19 Protocol), the Club may request that such Player be excluded from the six (6) Players permitted to be Loaned to the Club’s “Taxi Squad”.
Such request and exclusion is subject to approval of the Commissioner or his designee, who will take into consideration any relevant factors, including but not limited to, the projected period such Player will remain Unfit to Play and the period of quarantine required for a Player reassigned to take such unfit Player’s spot on the “Taxi Squad.”
NHL Players whose SPCs include a specified Paragraph 1 Minor League Salary and who are Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will be compensated at a rate 1/116 * 100% of such Paragraph 1 Minor League Salary for each day they spend on the “Taxi Squad”.
NHL Players on one-way SPCs that do not include a Minor League Salary who are Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will be compensated at a rate of 1/116 * 100% of their Paragraph 1 NHL Salary for each day they spend on the “Taxi Squad”. Such compensation will be subject to (i) a 10% salary deferral (as further described below) and (ii) a 20% reduction in the remaining salary after the deferral. The 10% salary deferral shall be paid, without interest, in three (3) equal payments on October 15 of each of the 2022-23, 2023-24, and 2024-25 League Years. Each Player’s deferral actually earned shall be payable in full notwithstanding a subsequent Buyout, expiration or termination of his SPC, and is not contingent on the Player continuing to play after the 2020-21 season. The deferral will not otherwise change the terms of any SPC, and the deferred amounts shall not count towards the Players’ Share.
Should a Player be injured while on Loan to the “Taxi Squad”, that Player will be considered to have sustained an injury in the Minor Leagues for the duration of such injury. Players on Loan to the “Taxi Squad” will be included within the Club’s Averaged Club Salary in the same manner they otherwise would if on Loan.
Players who are Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will be covered under NHL insurance during the course of the Regular Season while on Loan to the “Taxi Squad” as set out in greater detail in Item #53 above in these 2020-21 Transition Rules. Such coverage will extend to include their eligible dependents.
For Players who are covered under the NHL health insurance as part of the “Taxi Squad”, the calculation for eligibility for offseason coverage will include the “Taxi Squad” days as part of the days on roster in determining offseason coverage eligibility.
Players who are Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will be covered under the NHL disability insurance plan, however the disability benefit amount may be reduced for “Taxi Squad” players subject to further discussion with program underwriters.
Players who are Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will be covered under the NHL Life and AD coverage.
Players Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will not be eligible for Pension credits.
Players on Loan to the “Taxi Squad” as of the beginning of the 2020-21 Regular Season will be permitted to find permanent housing in the NHL home city in accordance with Article 13.12.
A Player being reassigned from another league to the “Taxi Squad” will be permitted to find permanent housing in the NHL home city in accordance with Article 13.12.
Players who hold a permanent residence in the NHL home city who are Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” will not receive any housing or rental car benefits.
Players Loaned to the “Taxi Squad” who do not have a permanent residence in the NHL Club’s home city will be provided a rental Car and Per Diem in accordance with CBA Section 14.5 for the duration of their time with on the “Taxi Squad”.
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