NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2020

by | Oct 24, 2020 | News, NHL | 25 comments

Highlights from Friday’s general managers’ meeting, the latest notable free-agent signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reported the draft lottery and free agency dominated Friday’s virtual meeting of NHL general managers.

There was a lengthy discussion about tweaking the draft lottery for the second time in six years after the Detroit Red Wings, which had the worst record last season, slid to fourth overall in the 2020 Draft Lottery. There was also talk about reintroducing an interview period of 48 to 72 hours for unrestricted free agents leading up to the start of the annual free-agent period. Such changes, however, would have to be negotiated with the NHL Players’ Association.

Seravalli also reported the NHL’s target date for opening the 2020-21 season remains Jan. 1, 2021. Whenever the puck drops, it will likely be in a unique setting. The planning for that, however, must wait until the joint NHL-NHLPA committee begins its return-to-play meetings.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reported Jan. 1 remains the target date for opening next season but there are no guarantees on that. There’s no decision yet on how many games will be played or how far into the summer the schedule could go.

There was talk about opening the season in Lake Louise, Alberta, but that won’t happen in part because of the limited sponsorship opportunities in a federal park. However, the league is still considering starting the season in a unique location.

The draft lottery discussions focused on increasing the odds for teams that finish the lowest in the standings. The Red Wings were clearly upset about ending up with the fourth-overall selection in a season where it was clear they weren’t tanking. While there’s support for the Wings’ position, the league is asking for specific proposals.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said planning for next season will be more challenging than this summer’s return-to-play postseason.

One of the major obstacles is the Canadian government’s 14-day quarantine period for international travelers. However, there could be some flexibility there as the government is considering a pilot program to test international travelers as a means of relaxing the quarantine rule if they agree to a second test within a week.

If successful, Daly said that would make it “very, very helpful” in the league’s plans for next season. Otherwise, there’s talk the league could begin next season with four hub cities or an all-Canadian division, though Daly said he’s not committed to a specific format right now.

Russo reports the league is continuing to gather information (particularly financial) from its teams to determine what’s feasible for 31 owners who will have minimal revenue if there are no fans in attendance next season. He also suggests it’s possible the NHL could conceivably start next season at a later date if there’s a chance of getting fans in the stands at some point in late winter or early spring.

While the league still hopes for a full 82-game schedule, Russo speculates a shortened season of 48 to 60 games seems likely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is going to take its time to get this right. We’ll learn more details about what next season will look like in the coming weeks once the joint NHL-NHLPA committee begins their return-to-play meetings.

Based on recent media speculation, my guess is they’ll start up sometime in February aiming at 60 games played in hub cities under modified quarantine conditions. That would mean training camp begins in early-to-mid January, though the seven teams that didn’t make the cut in the 2020 return-to-play plan will have a longer training camp.

Next season could begin without fans in attendance in regional hubs. Should the pandemic fade, teams could return to playing in their home arenas and gradually allow in fans under local health and safety guidelines with season-ticket holders the priority. The playoffs will likely stretch into mid-July, ending before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics open on July 23.

The draft lottery and free-agent interview periods are secondary issues that can wait to be addressed after next season is underway. The priority will be staging as many games as is safely possible in as many arenas as possible with fans in the stands to generate revenue and ease the clubs’ financial burdens.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed defenseman Travis Dermott to a one-year contract worth $874,125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are over the $81.5 million cap by $1.049 million with restricted free agent Joey Anderson still to sign. However, GM Kyle Dubas has suggested they could garner cap relief next season by shuttling players to the minors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings and winger Tyler Bertuzzi are reportedly just over $1 million apart in contract negotiations. Bertuzzi seeks $4.25 million while the Wings countered with $3.15 million. His arbitration hearing is slated for Sunday.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed free-agent defenseman Nikita Nesterov to a one-year, $700K contract. Nesterov played three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens from 2014-15 to 2016-17 before spending the past three seasons with KHL club CSKA Moscow.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Marco Rossi to an entry-level contract. Rossi was their first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators hired Todd Richards as an assistant coach. Richards spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.


  1. No way they play 82 games and no way the season starts on Jan 1. pipe dream.

    • You heard it here first, folks! I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that the season will begin Jan 1 or that there will be a full 82 game regular-season plus full playoffs.

  2. The whole purpose of the draft lottery is so bad teams have the best chance at the best prospects.

    I understand the tanking theory; however, a team is only tanking if there bad to start with.

    Take the worst 3 or 4 teams put them in a weigh lottery for the top 3 or 4 picks and all others stay where they finished in the standings.

    I dont believe the team that missed the playoffs by 1pt should have a chance at the first overall pick regardless of how small of a lottery chance they have at getting that pick.

    On the other hand the teams tanking for the first overall pick have no one to blame but themselves for the present landscape.

    The issue now becomes does the NHL have a desire to change the format because now the draft lottery is must watch TV and it gives the NHL another opportunity to promote their game.

    • Feel exactly the same way Caper.
      Bottom 3 or 4 max.
      I would be fine if they didn’t have a lottery at all and just gave it to the worst team. But I get why they do.
      Real tanking is really only an issue when a McDavid type player is available. Buffalo gave it their best shot. Other than that, who has really tanked?
      Most teams trading players for picks at the TDL aren’t tanking, they are just doing their job.

      Bottom line is you lose too often you get fired as a GM. The current lottery is an over reaction to something that wasn’t a huge problem.

      • Leafs tanked to get shot at AM (or a very good player ie. Laine, Dubois, Tkachuk). They were in a playoff position, fired Carlyl, replaced with first time coach among a few odd roster moves. This was shannhan’s best decision to date. A side effect of tanking is organizational poison culture.

  3. The best GM in the league strikes again. It is almost unfair to the rest of the league.

    Now an all Canadian division possibility may give Leafs home ice fan advantage for all their games.

    I smell a President’s Trophy for God’s team next season.


    • Yaaaawn

  4. Didn’t Ottawa technically have the highest odds at winning the draft lottery? Sounds like the Wings are whining to me. You have to do a lot more than win a draft lottery to build a contender.

    • Brock, I think you need to look at Stevie Y’s comments after the draft. No whining there.

      • Meant to say after draft lottery.

      • I guess there needs to be clarification on “The Red Wings were clearly upset about ending up with the fourth-overall selection…” then. I wasn’t suggesting it was Yzerman.

  5. Re “ However, GM Kyle Dubas has suggested they could garner cap relief next season by shuttling players to the minors.”

    GMKD can get cap relief doing that…. but realistically not enough

    His suggestion was every off day shift the 3 ELCs down to the marlies…. the math is simple…. doing that (and it would have to be EVERY single off day) gets him to 280 K under (thats for the entire year) the $81.5 M

    Every day of short term injury; where a roster player is then replaced by one of those supposed to be sent down…. eats into the 280 K space

    That allows them 60-65 short term games lost …. for whole team; that’s it

    Leafs had over 70 of those non LTIRs last year in the shortened season

    Any time one of the goalies is sick or has a minor injury…. the 3rd string comes up from the Marlies…there is another cut into the $280 K

    For those arguing that it will be a shortened season (which I also believe firmly in ) everything gets pro-rated… 60 game season … means Sals at just under 75% and Cap then at just shy of $60 M(60/82 * 81.5)…. it is just the same problem over fewer games and gaps

    So… can it be done…. full healthy squad for whole season …. yes

    But everything has to fall into place; EVERY day off has to have 3 sent down; and team has to limit itself to a total short term injury cumulative (for whole team) of < 65 games

    So likelihood….. extremely slim

    An LTIR of one of the higher paid players; replaced by one of those ELCs…. certainly helps

    AM on LTIR (note LTIR must be 24 days or longer) replaced by Robertson ; saves Leafs a min of $1.4 M (24 days)…. do we wish for that…. methinks not

    Yes possible to make this work…. highly improbable

    …. and , as at this very moment …. with no more changes to any team ….. Leafs are behind Bolts, Bruins, Habs…. so fighting for a WC spot…. so have to beat out at least 2 of likely Isles, Flyers, Jackets, Canes and maybe even Rangers to make playoffs


    • Pengy: good for you for taking an objective look at your Leafs.

      I keep hearing from certain posters how good the Leafs top 4 forwards are. They are. But in saying that those same Leaf fans are unwittingly saying “as for the rest of the forward group …”

      And I still get a laugh thinking about a previous post where you viewed the Habs as ahead of the Leafs and ended with: “THE HORROR.”

      Best laugh I have had on this site. Thank you for that.

      • LJ, not sure the Leafs are “Pengy’s Leafs.”
        He has loyalty issues.

      • BCLeafan:

        He doesn’t have clarity issues.

        If you think differently, I am listening.

      • Hi LJ

        Just being pragmatic and logical , at the same time as having my finger , toes and eyes crossed in hopes of Leafs outperforming this year, what they have on paper

        Hi BCLeafs fan

        No loyalty issues here… just measured scepticism on one of my two favourite teams

        As it stands right now with playoff format … they can never meet in the SC

        Reg season when they play I always hope for an OT win (not a fan of shootouts) so both get at least a point; and cheering a little more for whichever of the two at that time, is lower in the standings

        I have been a Leaf fan for over 5 decades and have never been off the band wagon (including the demented Ballard years)

        Been a Pens fan since Mario’s early days

        I think they have a shot at a deep run starting in 21/22… was hoping moves could be made to get them to start that in 20/21… IMHO … not there yet

        The flat cap can’t be held responsible for this… 1/2 your Cap budget spent on 4 forwards is

        The top 4 are very good, yes…. but this imbalance does not have them matching up well against their own Div

        As I said… right now with no changes (and of course changes have to happen in TBay, and I would expect an addition (or two) for Bruins) Leafs are not at the Bolts/Bruins level

        Habs made some key moves

        Goaltending…. not even close… Habs hands down
        D…. overall.. to me … Habs
        Top 4…. Leafs… probably can argue fairly , top two lines better on Leafs
        But looking at the whole 4 lines with Habs more balanced… I say Habs

        So Habs overall better this year

        Still fingers crossed

        GO LEAFS GO
        GO PENS GO

    • Pengy respectfully stop trying to pretend you know better than dubas and pridham. They say they can work it and they will. You aren’t even starting your calculations with theirvtrue roster which will include babanov and not boyd at a minimum which adds another 225k to cap. These guys make the wizard of OZ look like Mike Milbury.

      • Wendel respectively stop trying to claim they’ve done such a wonderful job since taking over when all the evidence points to otherwise. In actual fact, they make Nostradamus look like Harold Ballard.

      • You r completely out of touch with the new NHL landscape George O. Your yesteryear ramblings are a bit sad if I am honest. Leafs will have the best roster in the league when the puck drops next and zero worries for 2 years even with a cup. It is remarkable how well they are set up both cap and skill wise. Only ignorant jealous haters say otherwise.

      • Then count me among them. Watching them shrivel and waste away brings no joy insofar as the individual players are concerned … but to imagine the angst in the private domains of pretentious, deliberately agitating twits like you … well, THAT is Golden!

        Fake people have an image to maintain … real people just don’t give a crap.

    • you’re forgetting the emergency call up rule, if they play two consecutive games with a roster of 20 players they are allowed up to 2 call ups at a salary of 900k each or less, I think it’s 900 K, without it counting against the cap. I’m not positive but I am pretty sure this also counts in any situation where they only have one goal tender. You don’t have to like their management team but when they say they know how to manage the salary cap they do, their specialist wrote the salary cap when he worked for the league. Every single off-season I read on here how they can’t possibly manage to stay under the salary cap, every single season they do it.

      • Hi tb

        No hadn’t forgot that. Not applicable.

        Per TSN that applies when multiple injuries forces a team team down to 20 (or below) , not a team that is moving ELCs up and down and is at 20 at their own desire; then gets an injury

        So those emergency call ups won’t apply

        He might go after another LTIR

      • My point was if they got into trouble they play with 20 and if there’s an injury they have emergency call up clause, which is the same difference. it simply won’t be an issuetb

  6. I’m not a fan of the draft lottery as the attempt to weed out one “tanker” just spreads to a “tankers” to increase their odds at the lottery.

    There are always ways to manipulate, judicious trades, beefing up opponents to increase the odds of last place etc.

    The smarter GMs will find a way but the last place team should get the pick and be allowed to do what it wants with it.

    Edmonton is an example of having the top pick doesn’t ensure a Cup or being a contender.

    • habsfan30, Edmonton is also a sample argument to getting rid of the lottery.
      Edmonton had 4 1st overall picks. If there was no lottery they would have had only 2.