NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

by | Jun 28, 2020 | News, NHL | 23 comments

More reaction to the draft lottery results, updates on the CBA talks and hub cities, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Bryan Little, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman reports more than a few NHL executives were unhappy over the results of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, in which a yet-to-be-determined team eliminated from the qualifying round of the playoff tournament will win the first-overall pick.

Criticism lingers over the results of Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery (Image via NHL.com).

Some of that reaction came from teams who felt they hadn’t received a definitive answer in advance about what would happen if the season couldn’t be finished. Friedman feels the qualifying round will now have more meaning and there will be a big audience for Phase Two of the draft lottery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conspiracy theorists already believe the NHL rigged the lottery to benefit a big-market club, screw over the Detroit Red Wings after their years of dominance, and to generate big ratings for the draft. These claims are, of course, baseless BS. 

Whatever the outcome of the draft lottery, it wasn’t going to please everyone. For every fan who feels it should’ve gone to one of this season’s bottom-feeders, like Detroit or Ottawa, some believe it shouldn’t reward those clubs for tanking the season.

Some observers, like the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, are delighted with the outcome as it gives a decent NHL team a shot at winning the first-overall pick instead of it going to a poorly-run club. However, that pick could end up going to a lesser-followed NHL market like Arizona or Florida, or a smaller market like Edmonton or Winnipeg, or a team that doesn’t need it, like Pittsburgh or Toronto. So there’s something for everyone to bitch about.

If the season can’t be completed, the eight non-playoff clubs when the regular season was paused will each have an equal shot (12.5 percent) of winning the first-overall pick. The rest of the order will be determined in inverse order by points percentage.

Friedman believes if Toronto and Vegas are named the two host cities, the Eastern teams will play in Toronto and the Western clubs in Vegas. “We’re overthinking this one.”

Regarding CBA negotiations, Friedman doesn’t expect a vote by the NHLPA membership will take place before June 30, pointing out it could take 48-to-72 hours. Some players and agents believe there should be separate votes on the CBA and the health protocols for Phase 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan.

Friedman’s also awaiting clarity on what the one-time 10-percent salary deferral will mean for the salary cap. Some sources believe it will give teams extra room, while another said it would be counted in the year earned. He also believes the NHLPA vote will pass but will be interested to see which players opt-out of the tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We already know Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak won’t be taking part. It remains to be seen how many others follow his lead.

The league is holding firm against non-NHL players signed during the pause (Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin) taking part in the tournament.

Friedman also suggested the July 10 start date for training camp could be moved back by three-to-five days to allow time to get everything done. It won’t affect the start date (July 30) for the playoff tournament.

There’s some talk of the seven non-playoff teams having “games” sometime in the fall. Details are sketchy and it’s not a priority, but those clubs don’t want to be waiting until December or January to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: New Jersey Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald floated that proposal earlier this month. He indicated the team presidents and general managers of those respective clubs have discussed a pitch to the league to address their situation. Exhibition games among those seven teams are one option they’re looking at.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club is more interested in a deep playoff run than the possibility of winning the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s attitude will be shared by the other clubs in the qualifying round. The opportunity to win that pick will be a nice consolation prize for failing to advance, but those clubs will be playing to win. Nobody’s tanking it just for a 12.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league will fairly evaluate every relevant consideration before deciding on the hub cities. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the United States has some observers wondering what effect it’ll have on the league’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas reportedly remains a lock as one of the hub cities despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in that city and the state of Nevada. That’s prompted some observers to wonder if the league might look elsewhere. It’s expected we’ll find out sometime this week.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skated at the club’s training facility yesterday for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little won’t be taking part in the playoff tournament with his teammates. He’s still recovering from a perforated eardrum and concussion after being struck by a slap shot last November. He underwent surgery on his ear in March and said he’s feeling “pretty good” these days.

THE ATHLETIC: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi will take part in training camp after recovering from an injured spleen. He will be available to play in the tournament but it remains to be seen if he’ll be inserted into the lineup.


  1. Fascinating stuff on the draft lottery but it won’t matter unless things change in the US.
    CNN reports today that only two, that’s TWO, states showed a decline in new cases yesterday. In most states, the numbers continue to rise and, in some, like Florida, Texas and Nevada – hello, Las Vegas, they are increasing at a ridiculous rate.
    Any thoughts of completing the season look kind of silly now.
    What will it take to convince people that this thing is not going away?

    • I agree, with what is happening in the states it’s not looking promising. I was watching the pga and they showed the players and people around the the tournament that have ad when you think how spread out they’re and than think of a bench load of players plus scrums on the ice, it will spread fast! A lot of people in Vancouver were happy they lost the bid and rightfully so, if things don’t drastically change just pull the plug

      • * that have the virus

      • Bigbadbruins, check out this poll done at Monmouth University in late may-early June where 42% of those polled say they do not miss sports at all (hockey rated just 5%).

        With the way events are breaking since then in the U.S. and the rapid rise of infections, you have to wonder what a new poll would show


      • Ya it’s crazy! People just want life to be back to normal, I just hope that the border between Canada and the states stay closed for an extended amount of time it sounds like the EU is talking about not letting Americans travel there until they get it back under control

    • I would suggest double checking with the World Weekly News who I believe utilize the same reporters as CNN.

  2. Personally I don’t think any team that is taking part of the play in round should have a shot at th 1st overall pick. To me that just stu#id.

    The draft is intended to make bad teams better, teams that tank are bad teams to start; so yes, make it you can only move up or down 4 spots for if and when that next generational player comes along, you’re not guaranteed to get him by tanking and also that a team that is just below the threshold of the playoffs also doesn’t get him.

    If your just around the playoff bubble and every team that doesn’t make the playoffs has a chance regardless of how small it is of getting the next Gretzky or Lemiuex or Orr wouldn’t the GM want to miss the playoffs for that chance.

    Although I don’t like this draft lottery, the teams signed off on it, so there it is.

    • My 2 cents is that the draft was brought in to help the bad teams rebuild. If that is still the case then go strictly by team with the worst record drafts first and the best record drafts last, don’t count the playoffs at all. If you want fairness for all then throw 31 balls into a hopper, first ball gets first pick, second ball gets second pick etc. That also means same thing for second round and third round etc.
      Now complete fairness won’t happen because NOBODY would trade their #1 at the trade deadline or B4 because they would have NO idea where it will land in the drawing,

  3. I agree, the current system sucks. I don’t know how to fix it.
    Ny had not picked in the top 3 in 50+ years prior to last years #2.
    People still cried conspiracy when NY landed #2. Insert eye roll!

    It’s ridiculous that a lifetime can go by without a team picking #1, while other teams in the same timeframe get 3-4-5 + shots at it.
    Some, are even rewarded a couple of franchise or generational type players…. you know who!

    The current system is a little too participation trophy like for my taste.

    • A first overall pick can turn a team around, if it is the right player. The Oilers have had 4 – first overall picks, and 6 other picks in the top 10 since 2009. They are still a middle of the pack team.

      So unless a team is lucky enough to get a generational talent like Crosby or a McDavid it is a combination of things. Luck in later round picks seems to be one of them.

    • The oilers are a middle of the pack team WITH a generational player like Mcdavid!

      Best of both worlds!

  4. Personally I like this concept & believe it should remain intact going forward with a few tweaks that all positions in both phases be placed & give the #9 team (once Seattle joins the league) from the second phase a placing in the first phase. Not only would create tremendous interest in the lottery itself, it would create great dialog & debate among us all afterwards.

    The draft is not exact science by any means, there are many, many prospects draft from #1 to soon to be #32 in the first round that never become established players in the NHL.

    In the past thirty years there have been players such as A. Daigle, P. Stefan, R. Dipietro, & N. Yakupov drafted 1st overall who have been complete busts.

    Others such as E. Johnson, A. Ekblad, & Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who are good players, but certainly not the 1st overall worthy from their draft class.

    It is arguable M-A Fleury was truely the best player in 2003 draft if you look at who was drafted later, R. Suter, C. Perry, R. Getzlaf, P. Bergeron, B. Burns, E. Staal & S. Weber.

    And the we still await to see if N. Hischier will live up to his #1 billing while E. Pettersson #5 overall or C. Makar #4 overall already appear to be more worthy of that pick. Only time will tell.

    I believe it would certainly level the playing field to keep teams from tanking.

    Fans need to hold their teams & management accountable, not the league.

    • Uwey, yes fans should hold the team and management responsible; however, the purpose of the draft is to enable the lesser teams an opportunity to draft the best prospects to be able to compete with the better teams by developing these young prospects.

      No as you mentioned it isn’t an exact science and something prospects don’t pan out, other times prospects taken in later rounds are better then the first.

      Look no further then Detroit for example of late round success.

      Draft is important but the lesser lights should be given the best opportunities.

      • But in my scenario the eight worst point based teams are guaranteed one of the top nine picks, it’s not like they are being moved out of the top ten.

        FYI, Detroit’s current GM, Stevie Y in 2013 had third overall pick when in Tampa & chose J. Drouin over highly touted Seth Jones!!!!

        So again, it has more to do with management than position.

        And remember Buffalo was the worst point based team & Phoenix was the second worst in the McDavid draft & still were not awarded 1st overall.

        Plus under scenario if you look at the 2015 draft teams such as LA, Dallas, San Jose, Carolina, Arizona & Philadelphia, all mentioned by George O earlier, would have had a shot at the 1st overall.

        Now that said, Boston, Florida, Colorado, New Jersey & Toronto would have also had an opportunity.

        Yes it happened this time that the “Wild Card” pick drew the 1st overall position, but honestly, how often is that actually going to happen moving forward???

  5. Dallas Carolina Calgary Montreal Detroit la rangers all won cups in that time frame.

    Van philly Ana nash San Jose all to at least one final.

  6. I support the reasoning behind holding a Draft Lottery – Teams SHOULD NOT tank for a guaranteed first overall pick – but the weighting should be changed. A 25% chance that a playoff team picks first was ridiculous. 10% Tops

  7. Oh, not arguing that point Chrisms. A combination of good management and skill/luck – take your pick – at draft spots other than # 1, paved the way for the successes you mention. Just that, all the hype that goes with having a # 1 overall, should be something that every team and their fan base should enjoy at least once every 31/32 years – or get the opportunity to trade it away for overall improvement when their time comes.

  8. Chrism,

    Pittsburgh, Washington, NJ, Tampa, Chicago , Boston, Colorado and St. Louis all have won cups (some multiple) and still picked 1st in that timeframe.

    While Boston, Edmonton, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Tampa , Florida have also made a final and lost in that timeframe. I know that missed a couple here.
    But your point isn’t really a valid point given what I’m laying out above.

  9. Besides, many of the teams in that list that have had #1s have also either won the cup or been to the finals in that same span.

  10. I think the system is fine as it is. The excitement of a 1st overall or even 2nd overall is at the cost of being really bad. So the fan base also had to suffer that. This years entire hockey experience is an aberration. The fact that this is good for the league overall should please fans of the nhl.

    Then back to normal next year.

  11. im hoping they get to play and finish season but i want safett for all involved including those working at the hotels they will be staying at .im more worried about next season as that is as ive read starting in november which is cold and flu season it worries me for everyones safety.im not trying to rain on anyones parade i love this sport .just trying to be optimistic in these strange times.

  12. The COVID numbers in the states don’t matter. If they did the league would of cancelled the season already. All the talk was of spikes in numbers. The new cases each day in the states is staggering. Their hospitals are on the verge of overwhelming their capacity and the NHL and NBA are still clogging ahead with their plans.

    This is happening. Too much money in it for it to not. The NHL is hoping the bubble they want to create holds. It’ll be interesting if a player test positive during the tourney and he and those in contact with him need to quarantine. Will an entire series be postponed for 12 days?

  13. My problem with the way this draft setup is, Now a team that is down 2 to nothing may not try hard to win the series because they have an equal shot with 7 other teams to get the 1st overall.

    As a Wing’s fan, the draft have been horrible to us, but that is how the ball bounces. Alot of this would be alleviated if this so called lottery was done after the Qualifying round.

    Lastly to say the Wings tanked, well they were a force for over 24 years making the playoffs. They traded picks , prospects and sold everything to make those palyoffs. Now when the cupboard is bare and the vets retire or are no longer the players they were and they have contracts that the team can not get out from under they are tanking. They have a handful of good players and that is it, good prospects but 1 to 3 years away. That is why we call it a rebuild. To say they tanked is not fair.