NHL Preseason Roster Rules and Playoff Roster Size

By Dipak BK / 26 September 2023 08:04 AM

Source : instagram

NHL preseason roster rules state that a team must feature at least 8 veterans. Any player with more than 100 NHL games is deemed a veteran.

Teams usually play 6-8 exhibition matches ahead of the regular season. NHL preseason schedule 2023 runs from 23 September to October 7.

The preseason allows the teams to evaluate the conditions of the players after the off-season. It also helps to figure out what works and what does not before they start the season.

It includes checking things like the offensive line, the blue line, the power play units, how the new signings are adjusting to the NHL, and other changes they might need to make.

There are other rules in place for preseason games but the most notable one is the rule of veterans and the fact that teams must have no more than 23 players on their official roster before the season starts. 

The NHL also dictates that each team must have a minimum of 18 players and 2 goalies. The players set on Injured Reserve or IR do not count.

NHL Preseason Roster Size

The definition of  "veterans" according to the CBA is given below.

  • Any player who has logged more than 100 or more career games in the NHL is considered a veteran. 
  • A forward or defenseman is considered a veteran if they have played a minimum of 30 games in the previous season. 
  • A goaltender is considered a veteran if, in the previous season, they either
    • dressed for 50 or more games
    • or played in 30 or more games
  • The first-round pick of the NHL entry draft conducted in the off-season beforehand is also defined as a veteran.

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Some other rules mentioned in the 2023 NHL rulebook that are applicable in preseason or exhibition games are:

  • The Commissioner can schedule any preseason suspensions to his inclination if he foresees that suspension restricting the team's roster for the regular season. 
  • In preseason games if a goalie is injured then the backup goalie has 2 minutes of warm-up time allowed, unlike the regular season where no warm-up time is allowed. 
  • Teams can not delay the games for any sort of reason unless discussed with the visiting team beforehand.

Regarding the NHL playoff roster size, there is no limit for a roster in the playoffs. However, the players must be contracted with the franchise.

NHL Preseason Schedule Breakdown

The NHL preseason is scheduled to take place from September 23 to October 7. The NHL 2023/24 regular season will kick off on October 10. 

Out of the 111 preseason games scheduled, 64 of them will be played in the last week of September. 47 of the games will be played in the first week of October.

The preseason is going to Australia this season as part of the Global Series with LA Kings and Arizona Coyotes playing at the Rod Laver Arena.

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 Some other neutral-site preseason games are:

  • Abbotsford, B.C. - Seattle Krakens vs. Vancouver Canucks, Oct. 4
  • Wichita, Kan.  - Arizona Coyotes vs. St. Louis Blues, Sept. 23
  • Cedar Park, Texas - Arizona Coyotes vs. Dallas Stars, Sept. 24
  • Halifax, N.S.  - Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Oct. 2
  • Independence, Mo.  - Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues, Sept. 30
  • Orlando, Fla.  - Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, Oct. 3
  • Palm Desert, Calif.  - Anaheim Ducks vs. Arizona Coyotes, Oct. 1
  • Salt Lake City, Utah  - Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks, Oct. 5
  • San Diego, Calif.  - Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings, Sept. 29
  • Tucson, Ariz.  - Anaheim Ducks vs. Arizona Coyotes, Oct. 7

Hockey Preseason Overtime Rules

NHL preseason overtime rules are mostly similar to the regular season overtime rules in which the teams play 5 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime.

In the 2021/22 season, the National Hockey League announced that teams may choose to participate in a shootout at the end of overtime.

As of the 2015/16 season, the NHL decided to hold shootouts for preseason, regular season, and exhibition games that have not produced a clear winner at the end of overtime.

OT rules are different for Stanley Cup Playoffs where teams play 20 minutes of sudden death with 15 minutes of interval provided to the teams.

Source : twitter

The overtime rules applicable for preseason games and the regular season are given below:

  • The overtime period will not be more than 5 minutes.
  • The team that scores first is the winner and an additional point is given to them.
  • Teams will play in a 3-on-3 style.
  • Teams can pull their goalie to add another skater in the overtime period but will be responsible for the risks that follow.
  • At the event of a tie at the end of overtime, it will be followed by a shootout where NHL shootout rules apply

The overtime rules applicable for playoff games are given below:

  • The overtime period is 20 minutes.
  • The teams will play in a 5-on-5 style. 
  • 15 minutes of interval is granted for the teams 
  • Overtime will be continuously added until a winner is produced. 
  • The teams will change their ends at the start of each overtime period.

Do NHL Preseason Points Count?

The NHL preseason points do not count in the regular season. The preseason games are usually played as preparation and not for the points.

The slate for the points is clean at the start of the regular season for teams. The wins or losses in the preseason fixtures do not count actually.

The wins or losses in the preseason do not impact the regular season point-wise or the chances of teams making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The NHL preseason games are like the show "What's My Line Anyway" where the points do not matter but there are fans tuning in nonetheless.

They exist mainly for the teams to evaluate their squad and make adjustments where necessary before heading into the regular season and to serve as an appetizer for hockey fans after starving throughout the off-season.

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In the NHL regular season, teams are awarded 2 points for a win and 0 for a loss at the end of regulation time. One point is awarded to the teams that lose in overtime or the shootout. 

The team with the most points out of all teams in the NHL at the end of the regular season is bestowed with the President Trophy. The points leader in each of their division is anointed as the Division Champions.

The points acquired by the teams in the regular season do count in the Stanley Cup playoffs though as the team with the most points is given the home arena advantage. 

4 of the 7 games in the best-of-seven series will be played at the home arena of the team with more points at the end of the regular season.

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