The 2020-21 NHL is likely just weeks away, so here’s a look at who could make the New York Islanders taxi squad.
It was announced on Friday that the NHL and NHLPA came to a tentative agreement on the framework for the 20-21 NHL season. That framework still needs to be voted on and approved by the players and the owners, but it seems likely that the NHL and the New York Islanders will be back in a few weeks.
One of the interesting decisions the Islanders are going to have to make going into 20-21 is who makes it to the regular squad and who do they name to the taxi squad?
TSN’s Frank Seravalli indicated that as part of the 20-21 framework teams will be able to carry 4-6 players as part of a taxi squad for the new season. So who makes the Islanders 4-6 man extra squad?
Things to Know
Again, taxi squads are 4-6 players. They must also include a third goalie. These taxi squad players will practice and travel with the team. With the cap staying flat at $81.5 million, players on the taxi squad will not count towards the cap, unless they are moved to the 23-man active roster. These taxi squad players will be their full AHL salaries.
The Islanders also have to sort out their cap. Sure, they’ll be able to place Johnny Boychuk on LTIR, but in order to maximize the amount of space he could provide, they’ll need to walk up to that $81.5 million celling like Arthur Staple pointed out yesterday.
With that in mind here’s my roster and taxi squad that keeps the Islanders under the cap ceiling.
*Barzal signed with $7 million AAV.
**Martin signed with $1 million AAV.
For my team, I placed Ross Johnston and Leo Komarov on the scratchpad. So neither is on the taxi squad and neither move would reduce the Islanders cap hit.
I put Andrew Ladd on the taxi squad, opening up $1.075 million in cap space for “sending him down”. (more on that in a second).
*Greene signed to $1.25 million AAV.
On the blueline, I placed Thomas Hickey on the taxi squad, just like Ladd, which opens up another $1.075 million in cap space. Sebastian Aho was also brought up to be the seventh defenseman for the club.
According to CapFriendly’s Armchair GM tool, his lineup carries an $80,313,334 million cap hit, leaving the Isles with $1.186 million in cap space.
Again, taxi squads are 4-6 players and one of those players has to be a goalie.
Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Otto Koivula, Austin Czarnik
Defensemen: Thomas Hickey, Grant Hutton
Goalie: Cory Schneider*
*Schneider signed to the league minimum deal.
Up top Koivula and Czarnik provide versatile options, either of them can play down the middle or on the wing.
On the back end, there’s a left (Hickey) and right-hand (Grant) shot. Grant was a consideration for the playoff bubble so he might be in.
Who they take as the third goalie is still a valid question. Who knows when the AHL starts up and with Jakub Skarek still out on loan in Finland it makes sense to bring Cory Schneider along.
The start of the AHL could change this taxi squad of course. As it stands now the AHL season isn’t scheduled to begin until February 5, 2021. Guys like Koivula and Grant could drop out in order to get more playing time rather than sitting on the sidelines.