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Have you ever wondered about what teams need to think about with each transaction? Why a team might put a player on Injured Reserve or Long-Term Injured Reserve, or what the difference is between a Regular Recall and an Emergency Recall?

There is a lot of jargon, and it can be intimidating. But deep down, it really isn't as complicated as it seems. This primer is aimed at helping untangle what the terms mean and some of what a team needs to think about as it makes transactions throughout the season.


There are two basic requirements for a roster:

  • The team must have at least 20 players on its active roster, and until the trade deadline cannot have more than 23 players on the active roster
  • The team must be under the spending limit


The first thing to think about with each roster move is how it affects the number of players on the active roster and the money available under the spending limit.

Transaction Opportunities
  Active Roster Impact Salary Cap Impact Requirements Other Information
Injured Reserve (IR) Removed None Injury or illness leaves player unavailable for 7+ days  
Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) None Team's spending limit goes up Injury or illness leaves player unavailable for 10+ games and 24+ days Player must also go on IR
COVID non-roster Removed None Designated ineligible to play according to the NHL COVID protocol  
Loan Removed Removed Depending on age and experience, some players can always be loaned; others must have cleared waivers Transfers the player to some other roster, such as AHL, CHL, European league, etc. Moving from the NHL to a Taxi Squad is also a loan
Recall Added Added   Transfers the player from some other roster (usually AHL or Taxi Squad) to the NHL team
Emergency Recall Added Added Injury or illness drops the club below 12 available Forwards, 6 available Defensemen, or 2 Goalies  


** Scroll to the right for more information



Long-Term Injured Reserve

Last Resort

As you see transactions announced throughout the season, hopefully this primer will help you understand a little bit of the nuance behind each action.


When you see a player get moved to IR, you will know from our table that the only impact is that it removes them from the active roster, and you can think about why removing him from the active roster might have been beneficial. When the team has injuries and announces a recall, you will know the pros and cons that the team weighed when deciding whether to make it an emergency recall.


No primer can cover every possible situation, of course. So when you see something that isn't covered here and are wondering how to interpret it, send a message to @WaltRuff on Twitter.