Starting this morning, the NHL’s annual holiday roster freeze took effect, and will last until December 27, which is next Tuesday. What the roster freeze means is that no player can be traded or waived until the end of the freeze. It was been implemented every holiday season since the new CBA was signed, and guarantees players the safety and security of not being traded or waived during the holidays.
This does not prevent a team from calling players up or returning them to the AHL, assuming waivers is not required. This also does not prevent players from signing as free agents.
For a shorthanded Rangers club, the effect of the roster freeze is pretty simple: what you see now is what you get for the next week. The injured players will likely remain on LTIR until after the freeze, as the Rangers cannot waive anyone to make room for a returning player. That means any pipedream of having Marc Staal or Mike Sauer return before the 27th is not happening. The six defenseman you see today are the six defensemen you will see suit up for the Rangers for the next four games.
As for the “logjam” at forward, Sean Avery and Erik Christensen will remain Rangers until next Tuesday. After that, the future is uncertain, but that won’t come to a head until next week. Wojtek Wolski will remain on LTIR for this period as well, as the Rangers cannot make moves to clear the necessary cap or roster space to activate him. Wolski’s situation is identical to Staal’s and Sauer’s, with the only difference being he is closer to return than the two defensemen.
So this New York Rangers roster you see before you today is what you will be seeing for the next eight days. Love it or hate it, you’ll have to deal with it. Injuries have ravaged the blue line, and there are still depth issues among the forwards. Nothing can be addressed until after the 27th, which is four long games away.