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Canadiens Continue to Juggle Cap, Place Kotkaniemi on Taxi Squad

The Montreal Canadiens have placed Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the taxi squad. What does this mean for the team salary cap?

The Montreal Canadiens are like a lot of NHL teams and doing their best to juggle the salary cap, the taxi squad and their active roster to take advantage of the rules set in place by the league in an otherwise strange 2020-21 season. Today, the team announced their latest paper transaction and that Jesperi Kotkaniemi was being loaned to the taxi squad.

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However, like Alexander Romanov and Jake Evans before him, Kotkaniemi’s “demotion” is not actually a demotion at all. He’ll be available tomorrow in Vancouver and this is simply a way for the Canadiens to up their cap over the course of the season. Arpon Basu of The Athletic took a closer look at the process for Montreal and how it specifically affects some of their young stars.

Basu writes:

“Canadiens VP/capologist John Sedgwick explained the rotation of waiver exempt players going to the taxi squad will continue. Today, after Jake Evans and Alexander Romanov, it was Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s turn. Nick Suzuki’s will come. They will also stop announcing it every time.

Keep the Players in the Loop

One of the challenges for the Canadiens during this process is communicating what’s going on with the players as it happens. Basu adds that with so many talented stars going back and forth from the taxi squad to the regular roster, it can become confusing. This is especially true when it comes to the fact that players will be making different salaries at different times.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi Canadiens NHL
Jesperi Kotkaniemi Canadiens NHL

The Canadiens will want to make sure each player knows these are simply paper transactions, but also find a way to be fair to the players since they are all on two way contracts and will receive AHL pay while on the taxi squad. It saves the Canadiens money every day that these players are moved and helps give flexibility to the team in the event of injury. At the same time, young, impressionable players can misunderstand why they are being moved and Sedgwick notes the importance of communicating with each of them what it means.

Expect these moves to continue and for fans to wonder why. Just remember, this is all about money, flexibility and long-term cap management. It has absolutely nothing to do with what the player is or isn’t doing on the ice.

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