Understanding the NHL trade deadline and AHL playoff eligibility

Patrik Nemeth will be available for the AHL playoffs. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Patrik Nemeth will be available for the AHL playoffs. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The NHL trade deadline is at 2 p.m. Central (3 p.m. Eastern) Monday. That’s also the deadline for teams to decide which current NHL players will be eligible for the AHL playoffs.

In order for a current NHL player to be eligible for the AHL playoffs, they have to be on the AHL roster at 2 p.m. Central. After that moment NHL teams get four non-emergency recalls for the remainder of the season.

So, what does that mean?

In layman’s terms, NHL clubs can essentially pick four — usually waiver exempt — current players on the NHL roster and make them available for the AHL playoffs with a “paper transaction.”

Dallas is expected to use at least three, potentially all four, of it’s non-emergency recalls Monday afternoon.

Patrik Nemeth, who is currently on the Texas Stars roster, will officially remain in the AHL until after the trade deadline making him eligible for the playoffs. Dallas is also expected to assign Brett Ritchie and Curtis McKenzie to the AHL, then recall them later that afternoon to make both players available for the AHL playoffs.

Dallas could use the fourth and final non-emergency recall on Jyrki Jokipakka or John Klingberg. Traditional logic points to Jokipakka getting the paper transaction, especially after Klingberg’s play in the NHL this year.

Teams can still recall players from the AHL after using the four-non emergency recalls, but it has to be on an emergency basis — when a team has less than 12 forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies due to injury, suspension, or other reasons.

For example, if a winger got hurt or suspended in Dallas, Brendan Ranford could be called up on an emergency basis.

With those potential moves, Texas’ defense corps in the playoffs could look like this:

Patrik Nemeth-Julius Honka
Jamie Oleksiak-Derek Meech
Jyrki Jokipakka-Maxime Fortunus/Cameron Gaunce

Pretty good, right?

But what about Val Nichushkin?

The 19-year-old forward will not be eligible for the playoffs, at least not for an extended period of time.

Since he’s on injured reserve, he can’t be assigned to the AHL on Monday. Therefore he’s ineligible for the postseason. Nichushkin can play in the AHL after returning from his injury — expected in mid-March — but it would have to be a conditioning stint, which can last up to two weeks at most.

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