NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2020
A placeholder team wins the first-overall pick in a chaotic opening phase of the draft lottery, a new CBA extension may be getting close, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
WINNER OF NHL DRAFT LOTTERY STILL TO BE DETERMINED
NHL.COM: A placeholder team won the first-overall selection in the first phase of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery on Friday evening. The Los Angeles Kings will select second overall while the Ottawa Senators will pick third. The Senators also hold the fifth-overall pick which was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018.
The Detroit Red Wings slid to fourth overall despite having the worst regular-season record. The Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, and Buffalo Sabres will pick sixth, seventh, and eighth respectively.
The placeholder team will be one of the eight eliminated from the qualifying round of the 24-team tournament. That club will be decided in a second lottery held following the completion of the qualifying round and before the opening round of the playoffs. All eight of those eliminated teams will have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the first-overall pick and the right to select Rimouski Oceanic winger Alexis Lafreniere, considered this year’s top prospect.
Picks No. 9 to 15 will be determined based on inverse order according to points percentage. The remaining picks will be determined by the playoff results.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the worst possible outcome, but what else did we expect in this crazy NHL season? There is now a real chance that a team already loaded with superstars – like the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, or Toronto Maple Leafs – will win the lottery and select Lafreniere.
The Leafs traded their pick last year to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau trade, but it was a top-10 protected pick. If the Leafs are eliminated from the qualifying round and win the lottery, the league would have to honor the conditions and allow the Leafs to keep that selection.
There is also a chance the Chicago Blackhawks or Montreal Canadiens could win that pick. Both clubs were all but eliminated from postseason contention before COVID-19 forced the league to come up with a season-saving playoff tournament allowing those two to compete for the Stanley Cup. Winning the first-overall selection could be one helluva consolation prize for one of them if they end up eliminated from the qualifying round.
This result sucks for rebuilding teams like the Wings and Senators, who need a franchise player to build around. That’s not to say they won’t get good players, perhaps even a future superstar, in their current spots, but Lafreniere is considered a “can’t-miss kid”. The Kings, meanwhile, have to be pleased to move up from fourth to second overall.
This one-off draft lottery plan wasn’t going to please everyone, but there was a sense that Detroit or Ottawa could end up with the first-overall pick. The results will only stoke criticism, not only of the way this particular lottery was planned but also of the format in general.
NHL, NHLPA GETTING CLOSER TO A NEW CBA?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL and NHL Players’ Association are closing in on a new collective bargaining agreement that would address the league’s revenue losses stemming from pausing the schedule because of COVID-19. A memorandum of understanding is expected soon, perhaps by Sunday at the earliest.
The framework being discussed is a six-year CBA that would also cover 2020-21 and 2021-22, the final two years of the current agreement. It could see a cap on escrow at 20 percent for the first two years, after which it would revert to the traditional system as league revenues are expected to rise following a new U.S. television agreement and the addition of Seattle as the league’s 32nd franchise.
The salary cap would reportedly freeze at $81.5 million for the next two seasons and potentially rise by $1 million for year three. One source told Wyshynski the cap might not be linked back to revenue until the latter years of the agreement.
Both sides are said to agree with a 10 percent one-time salary deferral for the players. That money is not a rollback and would be paid back to the players at a lower rate of escrow in two years.
Wyshynski also reported the possibility of a delay in starting training camps on July 10 as part of Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. That’s because of the enormity of what’s on the table and players still making their way back to their respective NHL cities for Phase 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have also reported on the CBA talks included in the return-to-play plan. Friedman also said it’s possible the start of training camps could be changed by perhaps two or three days but it wouldn’t upset the remaining timetable. The playoff tournament under Phase 4 is slated to begin on July 30.
A CBA extension would be an unexpected silver lining to emerge from this delayed season. Both sides were engaged in ongoing discussions for a new agreement before the pandemic struck. With the current agreement set to expire in September 2022, the possibility of six more years of labor peace would be welcome news.
IN OTHER NEWS…
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The NHL and NHLPA aren’t considering placing players under quarantine bubbles when training camps open next month. The players will be instructed to remain at home when not at the rink. They will also undergo frequent testing and maintain health protocols in the hope of preventing any coronavirus outbreaks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, Phase 3 will determine if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 takes place. The league insists a handful of positive tests won’t derail its plans, but that could change if some players on several teams come down with the coronavirus in the coming weeks.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports we’ll have to see what develops over this weekend regarding an announcement of the two hub cities for Phase 4. He believes it’s extremely close between Edmonton and Toronto as both cities seem to have provincial health clearance. Las Vegas remains an expected choice for one of the two cities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring unforeseen issues, it appears Edmonton or Toronto will be named as one of those hub cities within the next several days.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars general manager Jim Nill said there’s a good chance defenseman Roman Polak won’t rejoin the team to finish this season. He indicated he’ll honor Polak’s decision but left the door open if the blueliner changed his mind. Nill said no other Stars have expressed reservations about returning to Dallas.