AHL Roster Limits
There aren’t any roster limits. That’s the simple answer. An American Hockey League team can have as many players as it wants on the roster. You can only dress 18 skaters plus 2 goalies in a game but the roster itself isn’t limited like the NHL is at 23 players.
There are limitations on the 18 skaters in a game. See the next topic – Veteran Rule.
Here’s the language used by The AHL to describe the rule:
Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a regular-season game, at least 13 must be qualified as “development players.” Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL, IHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season.
The remaining 5 roster spots can be composed of veterans that are classified as having played in 321 or more professional games. A roster cannot have more than 5 players that have played more than 321 games.
Or those 5 spots can be what are considered exempt veterans that have played between 261 and 321 pro games.
Or those spots can be composed of five more players that have played in less than 260 pro games.
Goalies are exempt from the veteran rule.
Because there aren’t any roster limits in the American League there isn’t an injured reserve. Someone is simply out injured an an AHL team can add more players dress extra players already on the roster.
Here on Lets Go Amerk’s we have an injuries page that is updated regularly. This info from a variety of sources, one being the team itself.
Two-way and One-way Contracts
It’s only about money.
Two-way contract means that a salary depends on what league the player is in. One example for the 2019/2020 season would be Remi Elie. If he plays in the NHL with the Sabres he will earn $700,000. If he plays in the AHL with the Amerks he will earn $300,000. Salaries are pro-rated based on time.
One-way contract means that a player will earn the same amount of money whether they play in the NHL or AHL. Two examples for the 2019/2020 season would be Curtis Lazar and Jean-Sebastion Dea. Both players are on one-way contracts and will earn $700,000 whether they’re with the Sabres or Amerks.
NHL vs AHL vs ECHL Contracts
NHL contract means that a player counts against the 50 roster spots that an NHL team can have in a season. A player on a NHL contract can be assigned to either the AHL or ECHL team. An assignment to an ECHL team is only common during an ELC (Entry Level Contract) period. Example – Devante Stephens.
AHL contract means that a player is signed to that AHL team. These contracts can vary in terms. Some allow a player to be assigned to the ECHL while some others do not. Contract terms are rarely released but typically veteran players (261+ pro games) are AHL only. The NHL team does not own any rights to a player on an AHL contract.
ECHL contract means that they are only playing for that ECHL team. The AHL and NHL teams do not own any rights to a player on an ECHL contract.
Can an NHL team offer a contract to an AHL or ECHL player? Yes. Example would be Adam Wilcox towards the end of the 2018/2019 season. He was on an AHL contract with the Amerks. The Sabres needed an extra goalie under contract in case of injury and signed Wilcox for the remainder of the season. Opposing teams do not go around poaching players on AHL deals with other teams.
What are waivers?
Waivers might be one of the most confusing topics for many hockey fans. Especially trying to determine if fringe players have to go through them. If you understand this rule with ease you’re in the minority.
The concept of waivers is to give every player the best opportunity to play in the NHL if they’re able to do so. After an entry level contract teams have slightly less restricted rights to a player. Teams also want to have the best players they can in their organization.
When a NHL team assigns someone to the AHL there is a 24 hour period that ends at 12pm Eastern Time the following the day where another team can claim them for their roster. If a team claims a player they have to remain on that teams active NHL roster for 30 days following the claim. After that 30 days a player must be placed on waivers again if that team wants to send the player down.
There’s also instances where a team can place someone on waivers and if they aren’t claimed they stay with the NHL team. A player does not have to go through waivers again if they have been in the NHL for less than 30 days since clearing or played in less than 9 games. This is often used to clear the way for a player to be assigned but keep them on the NHL team to try and possibly find another option.
At what point does a player have to start going through waivers? It’s complicated. On the LGA roster page I have listed yes if they’d have to go through to make it easy. Describing each players scenario is complicated. To become an expert I’d suggest reading through this Waivers FAQ on CapFriendly or read through the NHL CBA.
Contracts: SPC, PTO, ATO
These are three acronyms commonly attached to contracts when a player is signed.
SPC = Standard Player Contract. This is what a player is signed to on a NHL, AHL, or ECHL contract for whatever terms are agreed to.
PTO = Professional Tryout. A professional tryout is common during the season when a team is short on players. They may only need a player short term or want to essentially give them a tryout to see if they’ll have success with a team. A standard PTO is limited to 25 games. At the end of the 25 games a player might be offered an additional PTO for another 25 games, they might be offered a SPC, or they are released and free to sign with another team. A player can only sign two PTO’s in a season.
The most common PTO is a player on an ECHL contract getting a look with an AHL team (not always within the same organization/affiliation). Example – A Cincinnati player on a SPC in the ECHL can sign a PTO with any AHL team.
ATO = Amateur Tryout. This is most common towards the end of a season for players coming out of college or juniors that have never played at the professional level. Every league uses ATO’s (NHL, AHL, ECHL).
A conditioning loan is when a NHL team assigns a player to the AHL who is coming off of an injury and needs to play some games. A conditioning loan bypasses waivers so that a player is not put at risk of being claimed by another team. The NHL CBA states that a conditioning loan may not extend longer than 14 days. A player must also agree to the conditioning loan before it occurs. Players on conditioning loans in the AHL receive their NHL salary.
Who Qualifies as an AHL Rookie?
Straight from The AHL web site: To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in a total of twenty-five (25) or more AHL and/or NHL regular-season games in any preceding seasons, nor in six (6) or more AHL and/or NHL regular-season games in each of any two preceding seasons, nor in one hundred (100) regular-season games in any European Elite League. A player who has met these qualifications but did so while playing on an amateur try-out agreement or as a signed junior will not have those games count towards his rookie status. Any player at least twenty-six (26) years of age (by Sept. 15 of that season) is not considered a rookie.
Why are AHL standings base on win percentage?
The standings are based on win percentage because the Pacific Division plays a 68 game schedule. The other three divisions all play 76 games. This comes into play in the playoffs.
The league and it’s board of governors has discussed the idea of 72 games for everyone in the league. There hasn’t been a timetable for that to become official.
Why do they play less games? It was a bargain struck when NHL teams moved their affiliates to California from the East coast. More practice time and easier travel.
How come the Amerks seem to always play the same teams?
Every fan base says this about their teams in the American Hockey League. The reason is simple – travel and costs. Teams don’t have budgets and planes to be flying to different cities. There was a time when teams used sleeper buses (buses with bunk beds) to travel 12+ hours to play opposing teams but those days are in the past.
The less time in a hotel means the more time available at home for practice time.