NHL teams will receive cap relief if they are forced to suspend unvaccinated players without pay during the season, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to the Vancouver Province on Thursday.

Daly said Thursday he expects 98 per cent of the league to be fully vaccinated by the start of the season, leaving only 10-15 players unvaccinated. Teams will be able to suspend players without pay this season if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of the league's COVID-19 protocols, 

“There is no cap charge associated with players who are suspended without pay,” Daly told the Province.

Suspensions could come when American teams travel to Canada for games, as unvaccinated players will not be exempt from Canada's quarantine period.

“If you’re unvaccinated, you’re on a U.S. team, you’re traveling to Canada to play games in Canada, there is no exception at this point for that player to be exempted from a 14-day quarantine,” Daly said. “Most of our U.S. clubs aren’t doing 14-day road trips into Canada (so) that player typically would be left home because he can’t participate if he goes to Canada. So, those are the types of disruptions that we’ll see with unvaccinated players.”

Fully vaccinated players will have any COVID-19 positives treated as hockey injuries and still be paid. Unvaccinated players also will have their movements restricted when on the road. And there will still be regular coronavirus testing for vaccinated players.

The NHL season is slated to begin on Oct. 12.

*Files from the Canadian Press were used in this report