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BCHL roster rules for 2023-24

The 2023-24 British Columbia Hockey League season starts Friday with 16 of the circuit’s 17 teams in action. The only team not on the ice to open the season that day is Prince George, and the Spruce Kings open their season on Saturday in Salmon Arm.

Although the BCHL started operating independently of Hockey Canada and BC Hockey this past June, the league still has several roster rules in place for its teams to abide by. The biggest difference is that all of the roster rules are unique to the BCHL and the league’s 17 teams don’t have to adhere to any others put in place by the sanctioning bodies in Canada.

Here’s a look at the roster rules for the 2023-24 season, with my thoughts and clarification in italics.

The BCHL roster limit is 25 players, but teams are permitted to roster 26 players if they carry three goaltenders.

This is an increase over the 23-player roster allowed in previous seasons. The BCHL put this policy in place because Hockey Canada has a regulation that doesn’t permit players released from BCHL teams after Sept. 30 to participate in sanctioned hockey for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. By increasing the roster numbers, it should reduce the chance that a player is cut from their BCHL team after Sept. 30.

Teams are able to dress 19 skaters and two goalies to participate in any regular season or playoff game.

BCHL teams must have a minimum of five British Columbians on their roster.

This is the same rule the BCHL had last season, although it has strengthened the criteria of what constitutes a British Columbian.

In previous seasons, the criteria were based on residential address as determined by BC Hockey. Now, the BCHL considers a player as a British Columbian if they were born in B.C. or spent a minimum of three of the last five years developing in youth hockey in the province.

BCHL teams are permitted to have two non-North American players.

In the past, non-North American players had to appeal to Hockey Canada or have a B.C. address to be allowed to play in BCHL. Once approved, although they were designated as an import on the rosters, they were classified as a B.C. player under Hockey Canada rules.

These non-North American players are now determined as such by their birthplace and can play in the BCHL without an appeal process or having to move residence to a B.C. address. They are still designated as imports on their team’s roster.

Players from Russia and Belarus are temporarily not allowed because of the political situation in Russia.

BCHL teams are allowed eight affiliate registrations and can only get affiliate players from other independent leagues.

Hockey Canada and BC Hockey have a strict policy about players not being able to participate in sanctioned and non-sanctioned leagues in the same season. As a result, BCHL teams aren’t able to sign affiliate players from the B.C. Elite Hockey League, Canadian Sport School Hockey League, Pacific Junior Hockey League, Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, or Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

BCHL teams are able to sign affiliate players from any other minor hockey association, youth league, high school, or prep school league across North America, as long as they also operate independently from Hockey Canada or USA Hockey.

BCHL teams must have a minimum of four rookie players on their roster.

A rookie player is determined as entering the season with less than 30 games played in a similar junior level. This rule is unchanged from previous seasons.

Other roster notes

BCHL teams must have a minimum of three under-18 players on their roster.

This is an increase from previous years when the rule was a minimum of two under-18 players.

BCHL teams are required to have a minimum of 10 players from Canada.

When Wenatchee was still in the league, this was actually also in place for the Wild to have a minimum of 13 players from the United States. With the Wild moving to the Western Hockey League, this rule only includes the BCHL’s Canadian teams (namely all of them) required to have at least 10 Canadian players.

BCHL teams are permitted to roster a maximum of six 2003-born players for 2023-24.

This is the same number of 20-year-olds that teams were allowed in previous seasons.

BCHL teams are allowed a maximum of two former Major Junior players of any age.

This a new rule in place for the 2023-24 season and any former Canadian Hockey League players from the WHL, Ontario Junior Hockey League, or Quebec Major Junior Hockey League who were on a BCHL roster as of Jan. 10, 2023, is grandfathered in. As a result, they don’t count toward the new maximum of two former CHL players.