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How do emergency goaltender tryout contracts work?

The new CBA signed in 2013 added a feature that allows teams to sign goaltenders with professional experience to one-day professional tryout contracts in emergency conditions. Emergency conditions occur when a goaltender suffers a last-minute injury and a team is unable to dress two goaltenders because a recall cannot be effectuated in time for a game.

The previous CBA forbid goaltenders with professional experience from being signed to tryout contracts.

Goaltenders signed to one-day professional tryout (PTO) contracts cannot have a contract elsewhere, nor can they terminate an existing contract to sign the PTO. They receive US $500 and are permitted to keep their game-worn jersey. They do not count against the cap.

One important stipulation for PTOs is that a team can’t agree to one unless they have enough cap space to recall a player with a cap hit or Averaged Amount equal to the NHL’s minimum salary. In addition, a PTO cannot be used in consecutive games.

Teams can still sign goaltenders without any professional experience to one-day amateur tryout (ATO) contracts, just as they did under the previous CBA agreed to in 2005. Players signed to ATOs receive no form of compensation and do not count against the cap.

Among other examples, the Florida Panthers signed their goaltending coach, Rob Tallas, a former NHLer, to a one-day professional tryout contract on March 3, 2013. He served as backup to Scott Clemmenson for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Washington Capitals, meanwhile, signed former NCAA Division III goaltender Brett Leonhardt to a one-day amateur tryout contract on Nov. 29, 2013. He served as backup to Braden Holtby for a game against the Montreal Canadiens.

CBA Reference: Section 11.1 (b) and (c) on Document Page 40/PDF Page 60 and Section 16.14 on Document Page 107/PDF Page 127.