Nashville Predators: Taxi Squads are Back, Who Should Be on It?

Mathieu Olivier #25 of the Nashville Predators fights with Liam O'Brien #38 of the Arizona Coyotes in the first period at Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
Mathieu Olivier #25 of the Nashville Predators fights with Liam O'Brien #38 of the Arizona Coyotes in the first period at Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) /

With the huge rise of players landing in Covid-19 protocols, the NHL is bringing back taxi squads to hopefully avoid instances like what the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche faced when they played each other on December 16.

According to multiple reports, this came to fruition while the NHL was on pause for the Christmas break. It will allow teams to have a taxi squad of up to six players while also allowing more flexibility with calling players up from the minors leagues.

This seemed like the only logical and realistic solution for the NHL to keep pressing forward without more disruptions. After all, there are only so many days in the calendar and even with the NHL foregoing the Olympics to make up the postponements, that space will run out quick if this keeps snowballing.

The Predators have already begun to make decisions regarding their taxi squad with the addition of Mathieu Olivier, per the team’s social media account:

Who else should the Nashville Predators add to taxi squad?

The Predators have already shown in impressive fashion how deep their roster can go when they won back-to-back games over the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks while dealing with several key players in health and safety protocols.

A taxi squad would’ve been nice to call upon in that instance, but be that as it may, the Predators played valiantly by calling up players like Olivier, Cody Glass, Rocco Grimaldi and Cole Smith.

The Predators already have a pretty solid playbook for how to set up their taxi squad. Many of their options already have considerable amounts of NHL experience, so they’re not having to rely upon players who are new to making the NHL transition.

Grimaldi is a must to have on the six-player taxi squad as he’s deserving of a regular NHL role somewhere, but it’s been tough for him with the Predators because there’s a logjam at his position. Coming in as a fill-in with his offensive abilities is nice to have.

Glass is another player that just can’t find room on the normal full-time roster, but his offensive skillset should make him an easy choice for the taxi squad. He’s shown a lot of promise during his development stint with the Milwaukee Admirals, posting 15 assists in 21 games.

Defensively it looks like Philippe Myers should be another easy choice to have as a rotational defensive fill-in. I like the normal defensive lineup of Roman Josi, Alexandre Carrier, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro, Matt Benning and Mark Borowiecki. Having Myers to step in makes sense.

More. Three Areas Where Predators Can Keep Improving. light

And then of course you have Connor Ingram slated in as your third goaltender in case both Juuse Saros and David Rittich  can’t go due to protocols.

I’m going to throw a wildcard into the mix that if needed I’d like to see get his feet wet in the NHL, and that’s Egor Afanasyev. There was always talk that he’d get into the lineup way before this point, but he has been getting development with the Admirals much like Glass.

Afanasyev has raw talent that you can’t deny, and he figures to become an important piece for the team as soon as next season, and maybe sooner. I’d give him that final taxi squad spot:

  1. Mathieu Olivier
  2. Rocco Grimaldi
  3. Cody Glass
  4. Phillipe Myers
  5. Egor Afanasyev
  6. Connor Ingram

A temporary solution

Other provisions that the NHL added related to taxi squads and protocols for teams to use to avoid missing any other scehduled games:

  • Taxi squad players will be considered minor league players for cap purposes
  • Teams that don’t meet the limit of 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders will be allowed to call up from the AHL.
  • Players can stay on the taxi squad for up to 20 days.
  • Emergency call-ups to players under $1M cap hit

All games are expected to go on as scheduled for Wednesday, which willb begin a back-to-back for the Nashville Predators on the road. They’re scheduled to take on the Washington Capitals first, and then the Columbus Blue Jackets the following day.

Bringing back the taxi squad was a no-brainer for the NHL as they try to navigate through the complications and keep the season from being disrupted even more. It’s already dealt a huge blow as players can’t participate in the Olympics.

As for the Nashville Predators, they have a deep enough pool of depth players to use the taxi squad effectively better so than some other teams who might have to lean on unproven players who aren’t NHL-ready.