During the 2021 NHL season, teams will be allowed to carry a taxi squad. According to capfriendly.com, teams can carry a minimum of four and a maximum of six extra players.
Taxi Squad Rules
- One goaltender must be on the taxi squad unless an NHL team already has three goaltenders. The one goaltender must be available for all home and away games.
- Waivers will be required for players who require waivers in order to be loaned to the minors.
- Any player being recalled for an NHL game must be recalled before 5 pm eastern time. The goaltender is exempt from this rule if the team only has two goaltenders.
- The last day of training camp will be the first day that players can be loaned to the taxi squad.
- All taxi squads will be dissolved at the end of the season.
- If a player on the taxi squad is deemed unfit to play (injury or illness) the team can request that said player not count towards their six-player limit.
The Cans and Cannots for Taxi Squad Players
- The players can take part in all team practices.
- They can join all team activities such as team building exercises and team dinners.
- The players may also travel with the team, but are not required to do so.
- Players will not be permitted to practice with AHL teams or take part in any activites outside of those being done by their NHL club.
Some Other Noteworthy Details
- The players effect on the salary cap is the equivalent to if the player were playing in the minors (buried cap hit).
- If a player on the squad is on a 1-way contract, they will be paid with NHL salary. If they are on a 2-way contract, then they will receive minor league salary.
- If a player is injured while on the squad, they are assumed to have been injured in the minors.
Potential Players for Toronto’s Taxi Squad
Out of all the possible selections the Maple Leafs will need to make for their extra players, this has to be the easiest. Aaron Dell is easily the third best goaltender within the organization, which makes him the clear choice to be the goaltender for the Leafs taxi squad.
He had an average season last year for a bad San Jose Sharks team. In 33 games (30 starts), Dell had a record of 12-15-3 with a .907 SV% and a 3.01 GAA. He was projected to be the starting goaltender for the Toronto Marlies but is now the Leafs taxi squad goaltender.
This selection will all depend on how well Rasmus Sandin does during training camp. I don’t think he’s a lock for the Leafs top six, but I also think he’s too good for the AHL. I see him either being the Leafs seventh defenseman or their goto defenseman on the taxi squad.
He played well in the 28 games he had with Toronto last season while picking up one goal and seven assists for eight points. Sandin averaged just over 14 minutes a game and showed signs of his abilities but made some poorly timed rookie mistakes. He will need to play better in the defensive end if he wants to make the Maple Leafs out of training camp.
Marincin knows the team, knows the coach and the system. It is better for everyone if he is on this squad. He won’t be a regular in the Maple Leafs lineup, and he won’t take playing time away from those in the AHL. He has 34 points in 227 NHL games over seven seasons.
Last season, Pierre Engvall had 15 points in 48 games while playing mostly on the 4th line. He seemed to have lost his role on the team when Leafs GM Kyle Dubas brought in players like Wayne Simmonds, Jimmy Vesey and Joe Thornton.
Engvall doesn’t need to clear waivers, which makes him a perfect choice for the Leafs to have on their taxi squad.
Although Nicholas Robertson could challenge for a roster spot at training camp, it is not a guarantee. Robertson is too good to go back to the OHL and can’t play in the AHL if cut by the Leafs. So if he fails to make the big club, then the taxi squad is the next best thing.
Last season, Robertson had 55 goals and 31 assists for 86 points in 46 games playing in the OHL. He also had one goal in four playoff games for the Leafs back in the summer.
The 26-year-old Russian has spent parts of seven seasons with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL. Last season he had 20 points in 43 regular-season games and added another three points in four playoff games.
Alexander Barabanov is exempt from waivers. That makes him a good choice to have on the taxi squad.
Final Thoughts On The Leafs Taxi Squad
Having this extra squad of four to six players is great for players who are on the bubble. It gives them a chance to hang around the team and practice with the team. Although playing time will be limited, it will benefit players such as Robertson, Sandin, and Barabanov to be with the big club as possible.
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