A Look at Potential Taxi Squad Roster Scenarios For The Capitals

With the AHL likely to announce the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-2020 season following their upcoming league-wide conference call on May 8th, one of the many questions remaining will be what will NHL teams be allowed to do with their AHL players? In addition, what will NHL teams be allowed to do with other players from other leagues that also shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The unknowns related to the use of prospects are wide ranging right now. Who can join the Capitals? who can practice on a taxi squad? Will there be a development camp? What about expiring contracts? The list is lengthy.

What we do know is that their may be a unique opportunity for a certain number of prospects to possibly workout and participate with the big club in possibly two training camps in the next eight months.

The additional “re-start camp” may be closed to non-roster players, but it would be smart of the league to allow some prospects, who have also had their seasons cut short, to participate in the re-start camps. They need to be in shape when the NHL’s restart begins, in order to be ready for possible “call ups”. Bottom line, they need to be brought along the same conditioning path as the NHL roster players.

We are also safe to assume that there will be a lot of games played in a short period of time, so injuries could see a spike in the next six months, therefore depth players and prospects need to be ready. The NHL will likely allow additional roster space just for that issue alone.

The two two primary goals in determining the rules for prospect participants will be:

  • to prepare prospects that could actually see playing time during the conclusion of 2019-2020 NHL season, and provide enough conditioned players to cover potential injuries.
  • to provide experience for as many less-ready prospects who had seasons cut short, without overcrowding/clouding the issue. There could even be inter-taxi squad games.

Issues such as expiring contracts, salary cap limits and participation from this years drafted prospects will also have to be worked out.

On the home front

We could see two likely scenarios unfold with regards to roster size and prospect players:

  • Unlimited roster, with salary cap variances
  • 30-man rosters, with little salary cap variances

So, who should the Capitals add to their roster, or to their taxi squad? The ultimate answer lies in the final ruling by the league. Because this is certainly an unusual circumstance, the league could render any number of rulings regarding the use and number of prospects, juniors and minor league players.

Unlimited Roster:

The easy move would be for the league to allow NHL teams to add any of their prospect players to the team they want, to form a taxi squad. The goal for the Capitals would be to get as many prospects extra practice and playing time, and conditioning for those that might actually be needed in a game.

Defensemen

  • Martin Fehervary
  • Alex Alexeyev
  • Tyler Lewington*
  • Connor Hobbs*

Forwards

  • Connor McMichael
  • Aliaksei Protas
  • Garrett Pilon
  • Brian Pinho*
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
  • Joe Snively
  • Damien Riat
  • Beck Malenstyn
  • Liam O’Brien*
  • Shane Gersich*
  • Daniel Sprong*

Goaltenders

  • Vitek Vanecek
  • Pheonix Copley

* expiring contract

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. This would give the Capitals a final roster of 40 players, several of which have expiring contracts at the end of the season. (Which is a whole other issue). The “unlimited” option would likely cost money in these extremely tight financial times, and would complicate issues and concerns related to health matters.

30-man Roster:

The league could set a maximum number of “callups”. As a refresher, during a normal NHL season, the roster limit is removed following the NHL trade deadline, as long as teams adhere to salary cap and financial constraints.

Forwards

  • Garrett Pilon
  • Brian Pinho*
  • Beck Malenstyn
  • Connor McMichael

Defensemen

  • Martin Fehervary
  • Tyler Lewington*

Goaltenders

  • Vitek Vanecek

The Silver Lining

Regardless of the final ruling on maximum number of callups, teams will likely be afforded a rare opportunity to have their prospects run through two training camps this summer and fall (one before the restart of the 2019-2020 season and one prior to the start of the 2020-2021 season). There is also an opportunity for prospect callups to get in a few extra practices and possibly exhibition games, something that would help make-up for their abbreviated seasons.

The ideal scenario would also allow new draft picks (from 2020 draft) to attend taxi squad workouts prior to the resumption of the 2019-2020 season, assuming the draft is held prior to the restart camps. This would allow new recruits time with the time, that may be lost if development camp is scrapped.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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