When is a roster freeze not really a roster freeze? In the case of the Calgary Flames and their current roster situation, the impending holiday roster freeze won’t stop them from making any needed moves – such as potentially activating blueliner Chris Tanev from the injury reserve.
As of Monday morning, the Flames had a full 23 player roster, plus Chris Tanev on the injury reserve and Oliver Kylington on the non-roster list. Under the terms of the CBA, players on the active roster as of 11:59 p.m. local time tonight are cemented on the roster through to the beginning of the day (one minute past midnight local time) on Dec. 28. This is spelled out in Article 16.5, subsection (d) in the CBA.
However, there are some pretty big exceptions which impact the Flames:
“Notwithstanding Section 16.5(d)(i), a Player on emergency Recall may be Loaned during the roster freeze period and a Player who was Recalled after December 11 may be Loaned through 11:59 p.m. local time on December 23, provided such Player is not required to be placed on Waivers during the roster freeze period in order to effectuate such Loan.
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(Our emphasis added in bold.)
So here’s the rub:
  • Tanev was placed on the injury reserve retroactive to his original injury against Montreal on Dec. 12. He would need to be on the IR for seven days before being eligible for activation, a condition which was satisfied on Dec. 19 (e.g., he was on the IR from Dec. 13-19 inclusive).
  • The Flames recalled three players after Dec. 11: Matthew Phillips, Radim Zohorna and Dennis Gilbert. Phillips and Zohorna were sent to the AHL on Dec. 15 and called back up on Dec. 16, which reset their call-up date. Gilbert was called up on Dec. 18.
  • None of Phillips, Zohorna or Gilbert would require waivers to be assigned to the AHL, though if Gilbert reached 10 NHL games played this season during the road trip he would then require waivers.
If the Flames desired to activate Tanev for any of the final three games of the road trip – Dec. 20 in San Jose, Dec. 22 in Los Angeles or Dec. 23 in Anaheim – they could sent Phillips, Zohorna or Gilbert down to the AHL to make room on the active roster.
In other words: yeah, the holiday roster freeze exists, but it wouldn’t stop the Flames from making the roster moves they would likely want to the flexibility to potentially make during their road trip out west.