The NHL used the holiday break for good use. The NHL made exceptions, exemptions, and new roster rules on Sunday afternoon, so teams are no longer hamstrung by players in the COVID protocol.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were one of the first teams to get hit by the virus but have been largely spared over the past month, while other teams such as the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs had positive numbers into the teens.
Previously, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said the team would be reluctant to recall players from the WBS Penguins because of recent COVID outbreaks with that team.
According to our friends at PuckPedia.com, the new rules are expansive. The taxi squads could accelerate a few entry-level contracts because the games on the NHL taxi squad count as professional games (but not NHL games).
New NHL Roster Rules:
*Emergency Exceptions for salaries up to $1 million (previously $850,000).
*If short 12F/6D due to COVID, can make an emergency recall with a salary up to $1 million.
*If short of players for two games for any reason, teams can recall without playing short.
*Teams may add a third goalie to the roster if two are unavailable.
Taxi Squad Rules:
*Taxi Squads are temporary, now through the All-Star Game in early February.
*Teams may have up to six players on the taxi squad.
*A player may be on the squad for up to 20 days.
*While on the taxi squad, the player will be treated as if he is in the AHL for salary and injury purposes. However, Taxi Squad players can dress and practice with the NHL players. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, this also includes a $500 per day stipend.
*Players are ineligible for the Taxi Squad if they were on the NHL Roster on Dec. 22, are waivers exempt, on NHL Roster 54 days, played 16 of last 20 NHL games.
The Penguins are expected to announce a Monday practice on Sunday. The first Penguins game after the pause is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 29, in Toronto. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs currently have 14 players in COVID protocol.
PHN will update the story as additional details and schedule additions are announced.