December 1st Roster Deadline Explained

December 1st marks one of the first two main roster deadlines facing BCHL teams during the 2019-20 season. The second is January 10th.

The deadlines are imposed by Hockey Canada, and on December 1st, all junior A teams across the country see the number of cards available to them to sign players reduced to 25.

Because of teams looking at which combination of rostered players and unused cards they want to have, the December 1st deadline has traditionally been busy with trades leading up to and including the day of.

Although not a trade deadline, December 1st is a very important roster deadline for all junior hockey teams across Canada. In terms of the BCHL, teams start with 35 cards on June 1st. Then on Dec. 1st as mentioned, it is cut down to 25 cards or less, which includes carded players plus available unused cards.

The BCHL roster limit is 23, so any teams with that many players signed has two cards available leading up to the January 10th deadline.  The norm is for teams to end up with a 23 player roster and two cards, but occasionally teams will go with less than 23 players and then have more cards available for use..

For example, if a team has 28 cards remaining of the 35 they started with on June 1st, (including the 23 players on their roster) and it reduces to 25 tonight, it makes sense to make trades before December 1st.  It simply gives more flexibility if the team wants to make changes to the composition of its roster. The idea being that the team uses cards 24 through 28 instead of losing them.

So far in the week leading up to the deadline, there have been a total of ten trades overall, including three posted on the league website on Nov. 30. The ten deals made between Nov. 24 – 30 involved 14 teams, 16 players, three leagues and seven instances of future considerations.

Last season, there were just five trades in the week leading up to the deadline, including one on December 1st. In 2017, 12 trades were made, including seven on the Dec. 1 deadline.

There are a couple of wrinkles that BCHL teams have to navigate around as it relates to the deadline.

Players on injured reserve do count towards the active roster cutdown numbers. As of now, there are 12 players on injured reserve according to, which means those teams need to keep a roster spot open for when those players are healthy enough to return. Of the dozen on IR, Langley Rivermen forward Tanner Versluis and Cowichan Valley forward Andy Bridgewater are eligible to return on Dec. 1, meaning unless their stints on IR are extended, they will return to the active roster of their respective teams.

The other roster regulation teams have to consider is the status of their U17 players (those born in 2002 or 2003). Each team is required to have two U17 players on their roster, and those who don’t will have an active card removed. So if a team only has one U17 player, they are maxed at 22 cards and if they have no U17 players, they are maxed at 21. Penticton is the lone team without the minimum of two U17 players.

The period between the last week of November through to January 10th is usually busy with trades and I’d expect this year to be no different, especially if the first week leading up to December 1st is any indication.