The Jake McCabe Situation … A Likely Explanation

Over the past couple of weeks, Amerks fans have been wondering, “Can Jake McCabe join the Amerks?”.

Then, after the Sabres season ended on Sunday, Amerks fans have continued to ask, “Why wasn’t Jake McCabe assigned to the Amerks?”

The Sabres never made an official announcement about the situation, but the question has been answered.

 Some people said he couldn’t be assigned here at all. Others said he could come down, but wouldn’t be eligible for the playoffs. In the end, this appears to be pure conjecture without any facts to back it up.

The American Hockey League changed their postseason eligibility rules this season. From Linday Kramer of the Syracuse Post-Standard:

– The AHL’s trade and loan deadline is 3 p.m. April. 10. After that deadline, no player may be acquired via trade between member clubs, and no AHL club may accept a player on loan from a club other than its NHL affiliate.

– The AHL’s playoff roster deadline is 3 p.m. Apr. 22, by which time all 16 playoff teams must submit to the league a list of playoff-eligible players.

Only players on a team’s playoff eligibility list, plus signed draft choices and players signed to amateur tryout contracts, are eligible for the playoffs. Players from lower professional leagues can also be added if they played in at least eight games in the AHL and/or a lower league in 2012-13.

– AHL Clear Day roster restrictions have been removed. Any eligible player on a club’s roster may participate at any time during the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.

– And per National Hockey League rules, only those players who have been recalled from an AHL club following the NHL trade deadline (3 p.m. April 3) may be returned to the AHL during the remainder of the season.

By the letter of these rules, it seems quite reasonable that Jake McCabe should be eligible to play for the Amerks.

So why isn’t he in Rochester?

He has been invited to play in the IIHF Mens World Championships. As per ESPN, he was 1 of 15 players named by coach Peter Laviolette to compete next month in Minsk, Belarus. Clearly, the Sabres thought that competing in the World Championships was more important for McCabe’s development than a playoff run in the AHL. Considering that he’ll be training with, and playing against, some of the top competition in the world, its hard to argue with that decision.

Thats a real downer for Amerks fans, as McCabe could have REALLY locked down the Amerks defense and helped propel them to a long playoff run. But in reality, playing in the World Championships is likely better for his own long-term development.


After some prodding by Eric Bourgeois, I did some digging down an additional avenue.

McCabe’s contract was effective immediately, meaning the Sabres burned the first year of his Entry-Level Contract. Because of this, as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, McCabe cannot be sent to Rochester this season.

(I’m still trying to figure out how this is different than, say, Justin Kea signing his entry-level deal and coming to Rochester. The only differences are one came from college, the other from the OHL.)

Had McCabe signed an Amateur Tryout Contract, he could have finished out the season in Buffalo, then been assigned to Rochester for the playoff run.

I still stand by my opinion that the World Championships will be better for his personal development than a minor league playoff run (which could end quickly). But it seems that its a moot point.

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