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Housekeeping: Pens assign O’Connor to AHL, a look at NHL rules

A look at some rules and why the Penguins sent Drew O’Connor to the AHL (on paper at least)

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

It might catch you off-guard, but there’s an explanation below. The Penguins have sent Drew O’Connor and Drake Caggiula to the AHL today. At least officially and on paper.

Of course, there was a reason this was done - any player who isn’t on the AHL roster at 3:00pm today is ineligible to play in the AHL for the rest of the season.

In fact, now is a great time to brush up on some other news and notes of changes that happen around and after the deadline: CapFriendly, as always, has it laid out really well.

There’s no more maximum 23 player limit, but teams must abide by the salary cap for the rest of the regular season. As many know, there is no enforcing of the salary cap in the playoffs, so it is possible (even likely) that Brock McGinn could be the 2023 version of Miroslav Satan — who the Pens also had to waive and stash in Wilkes-Barre down the stretch of the regular season, and then played in the NHL playoffs.

Wilkes-Barre is currently in last place in their division, but only four points out of the final playoff spot. Depending on future trades or injuries/returns to health, having the option to send Caggiula and/or O’Connor back opens up more possibilities. With roster management, keeping options open is the name of the game. Now, just in case the NHL Pens season ends before Wilkes-Barre’s, O’Connor can go down and play. Or in the unlikely event O’Connor goes into a major slump or the NHL Pens just would rather freshen things up, they’re not stuck with O’Connor (or Caggiula) if they don’t want to be.

Another key point to remember is teams only have four regular recalls for the rest of the season — but can use as many “emergency” recalls as they need to replace players for injury. Unless otherwise noted for special circumstances, emergency recalled players count against the NHL salary cap while in the NHL, just not against the four regular recalls that teams have left.

The other note is today is essentially the end of waivers for the rest of the season. As CapFriendly noted above, teams can still technically use waivers, but players are ineligible for this season. Figure that into players being ineligible to play in the AHL from here on out, and you’re not going to see someone like Chad Ruhwedel or Ryan Poehling waived or playing in Wilkes this season (not that such a thought ever deserved any consideration) and for all intents and purposes there won’t be any practical reason to use waivers for a while.

O’Connor is expected to be back on the NHL roster tomorrow and play for the Penguins against Florida. Since he is not on the roster, he can’t practice with the NHL team today before the game, but luckily the current league rules do not force him to physically have to report to Wilkes-Barre.