NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Washington Capitals
Potential playoff formats are under consideration, plans for the 2020 Draft remain uncertain and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST NHL SCHEDULE AND DRAFT NEWS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL/NHLPA “Return to Play” committee discussed returning with 16, 20, or 24-team playoff formats. Of the three, the 24-team format appears to be garnering some traction. That format would see non-playoff clubs like Montreal and Chicago getting postseason berths. “But again, let me stress. Nothing is decided. These are just the conversations that are being had between both sides this week,” said LeBrun.
Darren Dreger suggests a “play-in” format that trims those 24 teams down to the traditional 16 playoff clubs, rather than playing out the remainder of the regular season. This format would allow the league to get through the process quickly in case there’s a second COVID-19 wave in the fall. “If the NHL once again has to shut down in September, maybe October, maybe drift into November, there’s a built-in break, and then they reset and get going on the 2020-21 season again as late as December,” he said.
Frank Seravalli said the cost of COVID-19 testing and sterilizing dressing rooms and the rest of the facility could reach tens of millions of dollars. “So far, to this point, the NHL has determined that the juice would be worth the squeeze but we’ll see as these continue to add up,” said Seravalli.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA had considered resuming the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule and the playoffs. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports one reason they’re exploring other options is it would avoid bringing back teams with no chance of reaching the playoffs and having them play a month’s worth of meaningless games.
He also said it would reduce how long players would have to spend in hub cities, especially those that go deep into the postseason. Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk recently said he and his fellow players with families aren’t keen to spend up to four months separated from their families. “Nobody with kids is going to want to be away for three or four months at a time. I think that’s a lot to ask out of guys.” Dubnyk missed part of this season to be with his wife while she was dealing with a serious medical condition, so he has an additional reason not to be away from his family for a long period.
Brooks added going directly to a playoff tournament would allow for a draft lottery in which the seven clubs that don’t make the playoff cut could be eligible for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.
While I understand the league’s desire to recoup some of its losses by completing the regular season, returning immediately with a postseason format makes the most sense. Nevertheless, we still await a final decision. With the pandemic still ongoing, cancellation of the season and playoffs remains a real possibility.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports debate continues over the format of the 2020 NHL Draft. It appeared an early-June draft was a foregone conclusion, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said everything is still on the table.
June 5 was believed the target date, though options later in the month are also under consideration. Some NHL teams are uncomfortable with staging the draft before resuming the season, while some general managers aren’t happy over being prevented from making trades involving active players while the schedule is paused.
TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’s among the majority of GMs who prefer staging the draft after the season is completed. “I think most of the managers would like it to happen in a natural order,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman believes no decision this week would mean the date to stage the draft would be pushed later than the June 5-6 timeframe originally proposed by the league. The fact there hasn’t been a decision yet suggests the league may have encountered more pushback from team owners and general managers or perhaps unforeseen issues arose that require more time to address.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman cites an Angus Reid poll indicating one-quarter of hardcore Canadian sports fans polled indicate they wouldn’t attend a sports event in October or November until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. “Another 40% said they would have to do some deliberating before making up their minds and 35% said they would attend with no reservations.” Wyman suggests this underlines the difficulty for pro sports in returning to normal following the pandemic.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL revenue will likely feel the effects of this pandemic beyond 2020. That could take a toll on the salary cap for 2021-22.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price reached out to give support to two boys who lost their parents during last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia.
THE SCORE: The New Jersey Devils interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach John Stevens for their head-coaching job.
TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Alex Kerfoot’s family rink gives him a training advantage over his fellow players during their self-quarantine period.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes Brendan Leipsic’s recent offensive comments on Instagram could cost the winger his NHL career.
SPORTSNET: The Kontinental Hockey League will not name a champion after stopping its season part-way through the playoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.