NHL may help short-handed teams: Hotstove

The NHL and the players' association could soon look at amendments to the collective agreement as more teams struggle to ice 18 skaters due to injuries and cap problems.

The Detroit Red Wings are the latest NHL team to go under the limit, taking on Phoenix on Saturday with fewer than 18 skaters.

The NHL and the players' association plan to speak in the coming days to see if there's a mid-term amendment that could be made to the existing collective agreement, reporter Pierre LeBrun said during Saturday's edition of Hotstove on Hockey Night In Canada.

The Wings have five players injured, with the latest to fall being Johan Franzen. The veteran forward took an elbow to his head against Dallas earlier this week.

Teams usually employ 18 skaters, but also have to adhere to the league's salary cap restrictions. Clubs can gain cap relief if a player is put on long-term injured reserve, which is for absences longer than 10 games.

The Wings are already at least the second team to ice a less than optimal number due to injuries and cap issues.

New Jersey earlier in the week dressed just 15 skaters against Pittsburgh after being hit in short order by injuries to Brian Rolston and Anton Volchenkov and a suspension to Pierre-Luc Letorneau-Leblond.

While injuries can occur in bunches, skimpy cap flexibility is also a cause. The Devils are partially hamstrung due to the mammoth contract they granted to free agent Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer.

Teams in the past have played short-handed, such as Calgary late in the 2008-09 season. What is unusual about the current situation is how early it has occurred in the season.