NHL Rumor Mill – March 28, 2020
Check out the recent free agent and CBA speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THIS SUMMER’S FREE AGENTS COULD MAKE LESS MONEY
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently speculated this year’s NHL free agents could find it difficult landing a financial windfall. If the remainder of the schedule and the playoffs are canceled, they’ll be robbed of the opportunity to showcase their worth. They could also face a flat salary-cap as a result of the loss of hockey-related revenue.
“If your name is Taylor Hall, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Tyson Barrie, Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug, this is a concerning development”, wrote Fox. “Same goes for soon-to-be RFAs like Max Domi, Anthony DeAngelo, Sam Reinhart, and Tyler Bertuzzi.” He suggested bridge deals might make more sense until NHL revenue stabilizes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One factor Fox neglected to mention was which teams with plenty of salary-cap room might benefit if the cap maximum remains at $81.5 million. They could have a better opportunity to land a quality UFA talent than they would’ve had under a higher cap. They include the Buffalo Sabres (over $47 million committed to 10 players), Detroit Red Wings ($46.2 million invested in 11 players), New Jersey Devils ($55.2 million invested in 13 players), Montreal Canadiens ($63.1 milliion in 16 players), and Ottawa Senators ($41.9 milion in nine players).
The restricted free agents are far more likely to receive bridge contracts than the UFAs. Those with arbitration rights, like Domi, DeAngelo, Reinhart, and Bertuzzi, could use that leverage if their respective teams attempt to use a flat cap as a reason to avoid making more lucrative contract offers. It might also lead to some of those RFAs getting traded if they threaten to go to arbitration to get what they want.
COULD A NEW CBA BE ON THE HORIZON?
SPORTSNET: During his recent “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman theorized the current high level of cooperation between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association during these difficult times might lead to a new long-term collective bargaining agreement.
Seattle expansion franchise and a new US television deal are on the NHL’s radar. To make everything work, the league needs long-term labor peace. Friedman noted the National Football League and the NFLPA recently announced a new 10-year CBA. If the NHL can get that new TV deal done, he wondered if the NHLPA would be willing to vote for a 10-year CBA. In return, the players could get the Olympics and some form of escrow relief
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman isn’t the only person observing the improved relationship of late between the NHL and NHLPA. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun recently wrote he couldn’t recall a higher level of cooperation between the two sides.
Since the fall of 2018, there’s been growing cordiality between the two sides, culminating in last September’s mutual agreements not to trigger their respective early out-clauses, allowing the present agreement to run to September 2022.
However, LeBrun also noted that relationship will be tested as the two sides attempt to navigate the tricky financial issues raised by the pandemic. If they can successfully work their way through that, the groundwork will be laid for perhaps a smooth transition into a new CBA and long-term labor peace by 2022.