How NHL recalls work post-deadline, and who the Canucks will be able to bring up as reinforcements from here on out

Photo credit:© Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
4 months ago
Talk about anticlimactic.
The Vancouver Canucks made just one transaction prior to noon on Trade Deadline Day 2024, and it wasn’t the transaction most were hoping for. It was the reassignment of Vasily Podkolzin to the Abbotsford Canucks.
That’s it. No trades. No signing of Phil Kessel or any other free agent. Not even a waiver pickup.
Just a demotion of Podkolzin, to be immediately followed by the recall of Podkolzin in time for the Canucks’ Saturday matchup with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Canucks’ reasoning for not making any other moves is a multilayered one that has already been and will continue to be talked about in other articles.
The Canucks’ reasoning for the Podkolzin shuffle, on the other hand, are both easy to explain and a convenient opportunity to go over the post-deadline recall rules and how they will affect the Canucks – and those players the Canucks will be able to bring is as reinforcements from here on out.
Sending Podkolzin back to Abbotsford prior to the deadline was a paper transaction. The rules state that a player must be on an AHL roster at the NHL Trade Deadline in order to be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs. By sending the waiver-exempt Podkolzin down for the deadline, the Canucks have ensured that they can reassign Podkolzin at any point, including and especially for the AHL postseason (assuming Abbotsford makes it).
And by bringing him back up immediately, the Canucks will have burned one of four post-deadline recalls.
Here’s how it all works:
For most of the regular season, NHL teams are limited to active rosters of a maximum of 23 players. Anyone over and above that number either has to be on injured reserve, long-term injured reserve, or reassigned to the minors. But as soon as noon PST hits on Trade Deadline Day, such roster limitations go away, and teams are essentially able to carry as many active players as they want for the remainder of the season – so long as they can stay under the salary cap ceiling.
Then, when the playoffs hit, the cap goes away, too, and rosters truly become unlimited.
From the deadline to the end of the regular season, the major limitation on teams is that they are only allowed a total of four regular recalls. That means that teams can bring up, and then not send back down, up to four separate individuals, so long as they can find the cap space for them. But they can not bring up five.
Emergency recalls are still allowed beyond those four call-ups, but in order to be eligible for an emergency recall, a team must either be short a goaltender or have already played a game down by at least one skater. And emergency recalls only last a single game at a time and must be constantly replenished.
So where does that leave the Canucks?
Podkolzin’s immediate recall counts as one of their four post-deadline recall, even if it’s likely that he never even physically left Vancouver.
His return brings the Canucks’ active roster back up to 23 players, with Dakota Joshua on IR and Tucker Poolman still on LTIR.
Prior to the deadline, before Joshua could return to the lineup, someone would have had to be sent down to make room on the active roster. After the deadline, that’s no longer a factor, so Joshua can return as soon as he is healthy.
As of right now, there’s not actually enough cap space for any further additions without first demoting Podkolzin again. That likely gets solved by placing Tyler Myers – still on the active roster as of this writing despite a week-to-week injury – on LTIR, which gives the Canucks an additional $6 million in wiggle room until Myers returns without the need to demote anyone. That’s space aplenty for other recalls, too.
Should Myers remain on LTIR until Game One of the playoffs, that $6 million would stay available, which would mean the Canucks could easily recall all four of their allowed recalls and have room for them under the cap for the rest of the season. But that’s not likely a move they will make.
So, Podkolzin gets to ride with the Big Canucks for the rest of the regular season, and there are still three other recalls waiting to be used at any point between now and the end of the schedule.
Speaking of Myers, it’s almost certain that one of those recalls will be used on his fill-in on the blueline. With Myers out for weeks, the Canucks do have seven other defenders on hand in Quinn Hughes, Filip Hronek, Ian Cole, Carson Soucy, Nikita Zadorov, Noah Juulsen, and Mark Friedman.
That’s probably plenty, especially with the Canucks playing their next nine games in a row at home. But eventually, they’ll want to add an eighth defender, and that will be via recall. Chances seem good that it’s Jett Woo again, unless management wants to keep him in Abbotsford for the stretch run and playoff push. Other options include Matt Irwin, Cole McWard, and maybe even Guillaume Brisebois once he’s got in a little more game action.
Beyond that, the Canucks have some options with their remaining recalls, and no pressing needs until more injuries crop up.
There may be a desire to get another, longer look at Arshdeep Bains after he turned some heads earlier in the year. That’s one option. Linus Karlsson could always use another shot.
Perhaps if the team is looking for an injection of energy, Tristen Nielsen could be given his first opportunity.
Or, heck, maybe it’s Elias Pettersson II. The high-profile blueline prospect is reportedly joining Abbotsford this week after wrapping up his season in Sweden, and once he’s got more comfortable on North American ice, maybe one of those recalls gets used on a little advanced preview of him near the tail-end of the regular season.
Wouldn’t that be fun?
The larger point here is that, although the Canucks did not bring in any reinforcements from outside the organization at Trade Deadline 2024, they’ve still got the ability to bring in some in-house reinforcements over the remaining six weeks of the regular season, cap-allowing but regardless of injury.
Four reinforcements, to be exact, or Podkolzin plus three more.
And that will have to do.

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