The Calgary Flames are in a unique situation. They’re carrying nine defensemen on their big league roster and, due to CBA restrictions, cannot send any of them to the minors.
The general logic behind the roster restrictions within the CBA is to ensure that National Hockey League players don’t get dumped into the American Hockey League for the minor league stretch drive. If you’re in the NHL for much of the season, there are rules designed to keep you there following the trade deadline.
Under section 13.12(j) of the CBA, NHL players cannot be sent to minors after the trade deadline except:
- players who were recalled using one of the four remaining regular recalls or under an emergency recall
- players who consent to a conditioning stint after a long-term injury
- players who were injured but were on active roster for less than 25% of the season can be demoted with their consent
(Curtis Lazar was recalled using a regular recall, so the Flames were allowed to send him back to the minors.)
Four defenders have been on the Flames’ active roster since opening night: Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic. Oscar Fantenberg was on the Kings’ opening roster and stuck around until his trade to Calgary, so he’s in the same boat. None of these five can be sent down.
Dalton Prout and Michael Stone have also been on the Flames’ roster all season, though Prout had a brief conditioning stint to Stockton while Stone was on the injury reserve list for awhile and just returned from a conditioning stint of his own. Stone was also active for longer than 25% of the regular season before his injury, so he was only eligible to go to the AHL on a conditioning stint. Neither of them can be sent down.
Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington weren’t on the opening night roster, but Andersson’s been in the NHL since two days into the season and Kylington since the end of November, so they’re both considered full-timers now. While both are waiver exempt, neither was sent to the AHL on deadline day to maintain their AHL eligibility so they cannot be sent down.
In terms of the mechanics of things: the Flames carried seven defensemen for the majority of the season and then acquired an eighth (Fantenberg) prior to the deadline. Since Stone was activated from the injury reserve list after the trade deadline, he couldn’t be sent down but also didn’t count as a recall – his activation was basically a free extra roster spot. But since they didn’t send down one of the young blueliners with waiver exemption, they are required to keep all nine with the team through the end of the season.
And things will get even more jam-packed on the backend when Juuso Valimaki inevitably gets summoned from Stockton.