Explaining the Dec. 1 roster deadline

Dec. 1 marks one of the first two main roster deadlines facing BC Hockey League teams during the 2022-23 season. The second is on Jan. 10.

The deadlines are imposed by Hockey Canada, and on Dec. 1, 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 Dec. 1 deadline is traditionally busy with trades leading up to and on the day of.

Although not a trade deadline, Dec. 1 is a very important roster deadline for all junior A teams across Canada. In terms of the BCHL, teams start with 40 cards on Jun. 1. Then on Dec. 1 as mentioned, it is cut down to a maximum of 25 cards, which includes carded players plus unused cards.

The BCHL roster limit is 23, so any team with that many players signed has two cards available leading up to the Jan. 10 trade and roster 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 to acquire additional players.

For example, if a team has 28 cards remaining of the 40 it started with on Jun. 1, (including the 23 players on their roster) and it reduces to 25 on Dec. 1, it makes sense to make trades before this first roster deadline. It simply gives more flexibility if the team wants to make changes to the composition of its roster. The idea is that the team uses cards 24 through 28 instead of losing them.

In the week leading up to the deadline, there were 20 trades overall, including three posted on the league website on Dec. 1. The 20 deals made between Nov. 24 – Dec. 1 involved 23 teams, 23 players, six leagues, including the BCHL, and 17 instances of future considerations.

Last season, there were nine trades in the week leading up to Dec. 1, including one that day. There was no Dec. 1 cutdown deadline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Players on injured reserve do count toward the active roster cutdown numbers. As of now, there are 13 active players on injured reserve according to BCHL website, which means those teams need to keep a roster spot open for when those players are healthy enough to return.

The other roster regulation teams have to consider is the status of high school players. Each team is required to have two of these players on their roster, and those who don’t will have an active card removed. All 18 BCHL clubs have at least two high school players, so they are each permitted to roster the full number of 23 players.