NHL Rumor Mill – March 13, 2020

by | Mar 13, 2020 | Rumors | 16 comments

How could the pause on the NHL schedule affect next season’s salary cap? What measures could be taken to cope? Check out the latest in today’s rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Regarding the effect upon the salary cap, Pierre LeBrun suggests the league and the NHL Players Association could agree to toss aside the CBA rules in this emergency and perhaps agree to an artificial number for next season. He cited a source saying they can do that as long as both sides agree it’s the best course of action. That would prevent the cap from falling by millions and putting teams into roster Armageddon. The PA will also want to avoid putting their players into a crazy escrow situation.

Uncertainty over the remainder of the NHL season is giving rise to salary-cap speculation for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cynics will point to the contentious labor history between the NHL and NHLPA to cast doubt over potential cooperation on an artificial cap for next season. Given the lack of rancor in ongoing collective bargaining talks before the pausing of the schedule, I believe they’ll get something worked out. This is a unique situation, and neither side wants a scenario whereby some teams end up gutting their rosters to become cap compliant.

The template is already there. They agreed to an artificial number to avoid roster upheaval coming out of the 2012-13 lockout. I also expect they’ll work out an escrow calculation for next season that will be acceptable to the players.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes a revenue-enhancing plan could address the league’s salary-cap number for 2020-21 if this season is cancelled. He speculates the league and the PA could agree to keep the cap at $81.5 million if they believe there will be an immediate rebound in consumer spending and ticket-buying behavior. However, Brooks feels a flat cap could wreak havoc upon the league with half the teams using long-term injury exemptions to be cap compliant.

Brooks also speculates the league and the PA could adopt an amnesty buyout policy this summer that would not count against a team’s salary-cap payroll. It’s a tactic the league employed following the previous NHL lockout. Regarding the playoffs, he envisions scrapping the rest of the regular-season schedule in favor of an expanded playoff schedule with knockout rounds involving 20-24 teams to drive up fan interest and revenue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out amnesty buyouts as a means of providing a measure of cap relief. Following the 2012-13 lockout, each team was allowed two amnesty buyouts spread over two seasons.

As for the playoffs, the format will depend upon when the league can return to action. If it’s in late-April, they’ll probably just play out the remaining schedule and stage the playoffs so that they end by late June. If it moves into May, shorter options could be considered in addition to perhaps playing into July.

THE ATHLETIC: Examining key questions surrounding the Edmonton Oilers in the wake of the pause in the regular season, Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis wonder what happens to traded draft picks with games-played conditions attached.

The most complicated is the 2020 third-rounder involved in last summer’s James Neal/Milan Lucic trade. “That pick flips to Calgary if Neal scores 21 goals and Lucic trails his goal count by 10 or more.” Neal currently has 19 goals.

They also wondered if this would affect when the Oilers could offer contracts to free agents such as Riley Sheahan and Mike Smith. Performance bonuses could also be affected, as well as the Oilers’ salary-cap plans for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those issues aren’t unique to the Oilers. Every club will seek direction depending on the final decision regarding the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.

Speaking of the Oilers, Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman earlier this week said he didn’t think management was talking contract extension yet with Smith. He dismissed rumblings claiming the two sides discussed a one-year deal. Friedman also believes they could wait until the end of the season to talk contract with Sheahan.


  1. Where’s that Philadelphia lawyer when you need him most?

    • Gritty esquire?

  2. Artificial cap. Another reason it likely will have mutual cooperation is image. Which side wants to look like they are not compassionate to the ramifications of the virus

    • perhaps they can keep the cap flat and allow 2 amnesty/compliance buyouts similar to what occurred post lock out to allow teams to rid themselves of some less desirable contracts

  3. Here’s a site that postulates – IF they don’t get to play the remaining games in the schedule – deciding the playoff structure on the basis of % of possible points achieved by each team – a better way since there is a disparity of anywhere from 1 to 3 games played when the schedule was suspended. Doing it that way would, I assume, also establish the overall league standings for purposes of the draft. The finals draft placement for those qualifying for a playoffs would then follow the same pattern as before with the eventual cup winner picking last.


    Thoughts in here?

    • .001 separates the Flames and the Canucks. I can’t believe we may miss the BOA by .001 in the playoffs if this is what the NHL decides to do.

      • That would be a hard one to swallow.

      • You’re to old for a good old yo mamma joke with that one.

      • Damn, I was fishing for one too

    • George O, that would put Winnipeg who presently hold the 1st wildcard spot out of the playoffs by .001 % point. I don’t think they be happy, yes the played 2 more games then some and 1 some others. But them teams still need to win them games.

      Might have to give top 3 in the division a bye and have a 1 game elimination of the next top 4 round robin.

      Most games played is 71, bring every team up to 71 call it a day and set a playoff format

      1st round best of 5

      a lot will depend on how long the league is on pause. We do know Bettman will hold out to the latest possible date to have a cup winner.

      • The problem is, Caper, if they don’t get to finish the schedule – and right at the moment NO ONE on the planet knows what the situation will be in North America one day ahead let alone 14-28 – someone will not be happy with the formula applied. But I agree that some sort of elimination round would need to be structured so that all teams with a fraction of % or even minimal (1 to 3) points between them (games played to be factored in) get a chance to advance.

        However, unless the schedule can be completed (even using neutral site arenas in the lowest hit areas if that’s necessary) whatever formula they adopt will ultimately resemble a dog’s breakfast to a large percentage of the fan base. One way or another, the record books of the future will have a multitude of asterisks.

    • Detroit locked up the last place position with the loss to Carolina on March 10th. They were eliminated from the playoffs in February. They have given up 122 more goals than they have scored.

      Now that the season has been interrupted there shouldn’t be a lottery for the draft this year. Detroit should get the first pick. Most of the teams in the bottom 5 of the standings have a history of picking later in the draft and do not have any recent history of tanking.

  4. Lucuc is also at 8 goals on the season. Neal gets 20 with Lucic getting 10 there is no third round pick going to the Flames.

  5. ““That pick flips to Calgary if Neal scores 21 goals and Lucic trails his goal count by 10 or more.” Neal currently has 19 goals.”

    I don’t see the complication. If Neal had scored 21 goals it might be complicated, but he didn’t, so there would be no pick exchanged.

    Even if covid-19 wasn’t a factor there’s no guarantee that Neal WOULD score 2 more goals AND Lucic WOULDN’T score 4 more.

  6. I would punt that and similar performance based pick conditions down the road a season. If all the games can’t be played you can’t just assume.

    I’m no math nerd but using the points percentage just seems to take the loser point out of the equation. Is that a correct way of looking at it?

  7. Boston gets the cup everyone goes golfing and see you all next year and by the way wash your hands.