Laviolette Latest To Find A Ride On NHL Coaching Carousel
Updates on the Return-to-Play plan and CBA extension, the Devils officially announced Lindy Ruff as their new head coach and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN & CBA EXTENSION UPDATES
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the return-to-play plan and CBA extension could be ratified by Friday night. The results of the NHLPA membership vote will be completed by 6 pm ET while the NHL Board of Governors will hold a conference call at 4 PM ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The BoG call is expected to be a rubber stamp. Despite several recent reports of player unhappiness leading up to this week, media consensus is the PA membership is expected to vote its approval.
McKenzie wonders if there will be a big spike in positive COVID-19 tests as Phase 3 commences Monday with mandatory training camps at NHL facilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve repeatedly said Phase 3 will determine if Phase 4 (the playoff tournament) takes place. McKenzie points out the league has a fighting chance to pull this off once the teams are quarantined in Edmonton and Toronto. Getting to that point, however, could be a challenge.
During Phase 4, the Eastern Conference clubs will be housed at Hotel X on the CNE grounds and the Royal York in downtown Toronto. In Edmonton, the Western Conference teams will be housed at the JW Marriott alongside the arena and the Sutton Place hotel downtown.
The playoff games are slated for 12, 4, and 8 pm local time daily, but McKenzie indicates the Edmonton schedule could be tweaked more depending on the needs of broadcasters.
Some teams are leaning toward bringing three goalies to the tournament but more are considering bringing four. They’re also mulling whether to bring 31 players or reduced those numbers to allow for an extra staff member or two.
DEVILS HIRE RUFF AS HEAD COACH, MAKE FITZGERALD THEIR FULL-TIME GM
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils made it official yesterday, announcing Lindy Ruff will become their new head coach starting next season and removed the interim tag from general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s title.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff is known for his defensive systems, but those expecting a boring trapping style could be in for a surprise. “We played a super-fast possession type of game, which is the same type of game I’d like to bring to this Devils team with a lot of puck pressure using the skills we have to own the puck,” he told NJ.com. “And I want a team that can dominate with speed and possession, but at the same time knowing that defending is a passion that we’re going to have.”
The tentative schedule for the rest of this season, more tidbits from the CBA extension, Devils to hire Lindy Ruff as head coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY AND CBA EXTENSION NEWS
TSN: Frank Seravalli provided updates to the tentative key dates for the NHL’s return-to-play plan.
July 13 remains the start date for training camps under Phase 3. On July 24, teams will travel to their respective hub city for the playoff tournament under Phase 4.
July 25: Exhibition games begin
July 30: Qualifying round begins
Aug. 9: Opening round of the playoffs begins
Aug. 23: Second round begins
Sept. 6: Conference Finals begin
Sept. 20: Stanley Cup Final begins
Oct. 2: Last possible game of the Cup Final
Oct. 6: 2020 NHL Draft. The draft must be held following the end of the playoffs and before free agency begins
Oct. 9: Free Agency begins (or seven days following the end of the Stanley Cup Final, whichever is later)
Nov. 17: Training camps open for the 2020-21 season
Dec. 1: 2020-21 regular season begins
All dates are subject to change.
The NHL and NHLPA also have an agreement to abandon the return-to-play plan if the number of players opting-out on a team- or league-wide basis adversely affects the integrity of the post-season.
COLORADO SPORTS NOW: Adrian Dater reports the opt-out deadline has been extended to Monday night (July 13).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers doubt a large number of players will opt-out. We’ll know for certain by Monday night.
Bob McKenzie reports the summary of the memorandum of understanding lists Edmonton and Toronto as the host cities for Phase 4. The Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto and the Western Conference clubs in Edmonton. The Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final will be held in one host city but that has yet to be determined.
The final paycheck for 2019-20 that the players deferred will now be used to pay down escrow.
The late start of the 2020-21 season means the players will receive one paycheck in the fall.
ESPN: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL is working on its US broadcast plans for the 24-team playoff tournament. The qualification and round-robin games will be shown locally on regional sports networks. Discussions are ongoing over how many of the games will be shown nationally on NBC Sports Network.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unsubstantiated rumors suggested the games would be televised on pay-per-view. That’s not happening because of existing television contracts in the United States and Canada.
THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Jason Kay cited reports of an Edmonton hospital effectively shutting its doors because of a full-facility COVID-19 outbreak. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “at this point” he doesn’t expect it’ll affect the league’s hub city announcement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think it’ll affect things as long as there’s no indication it could spread into the proposed secure area of The Ice District in Edmonton.
Some interesting CBA extension tidbits were revealed:
Frank Seravalli reports the one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents before the start of the free-agent market has been eliminated.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, it’s back to general managers working the phones with player agents trying to hammer out new contracts. I’m pleased with this development, as it will bring back the intrigue and excitement that was disappearing from the start of the free-agent period Because of the interview period, we knew where most of the top UFAs were going a day or two before the market opened. Now, it’s back to the good old guessing game as it should be.
The maximum entry-level base salary will rise to $950K for 2022-23 and 2023-24, then to $975K for 2024-25 and 2025-26, and $1 million for 2026-27. Entry-level bonuses will also increase.
TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports trade conditions that make it harder for a player to re-sign with the team that acquired him won’t be allowed. For example, if a player is traded for a third-round pick but it becomes a first if the player signs with his new club.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports clubs that have a performance overage for this season will have the option to evenly distribute it between 2020-21 and 2021-22 (50 percent each season).
IN OTHER NEWS…
NORTHJERSEY.COM: cites NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting the New Jersey Devils are expected to name Lindy Ruff as their new head coach. Ruff is an assistant coach with the New York Rangers and is the former head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. The Devils are also expected to make interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald their full-time GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff’s hiring is garnering mixed reactions from Devils fans. Supporters cite his experience and success in Buffalo, while detractors consider him the wrong coach for a rebuilding club.
Fitzgerald earned his opportunity as the full-time GM, going a good job in difficult circumstances on short notice following the midseason firing of Ray Shero.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Chris Pronger has stepped down as the Florida Panthers senior VP of hockey operations to focus on his family’s high-end travel agency business.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo cites a source reporting Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to sign prospect Kirill Kaprizov for 2019-20 and burn the first year of his three-year entry-level deal if Kaprizov is willing to do so. Under the terms of the CBA extension, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the upcoming playoff tournament.
Latest on potential hub cities plus updates on Oskar Lindblom, Ryan Graves, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
UPDATE ON POTENTIAL NHL HOST CITIES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minneapolis/St. Paul, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Dallas were ruled out as possible host cities for the NHL’s 24-team playoff tournament later this summer. Six cities – Las Vegas, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles – remain in the running.
Toronto appears to be outside its western Canadian cousins. The city resubmitted its bid over the weekend, proposing a 40-acre Olympic Village-like bubble on the CNE Grounds where the players would have access to BMO Field, Coca-Cola Coliseum (home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies), and the Toronto Raptors practice facility.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports New York City was under consideration as a hub city, but establishing and maintaining an appropriate quarantine bubble was unsustainable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Edmonton are said to be the favorites. The league is expected to make an official announcement by week’s end.
VANCOUVER SUN: The government of British Columbia confirms only NHL players and team officials will be part of the cohort quarantine.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Families of players could travel to the two hub cities, but will remain separated by the quarantine bubble. How they’ll be able to spend time together is a concern among a number of players. It’ll be interesting to see how this issue is addressed if the next two phases of the return-to-play plan are approved.
SPORTSNET: Canucks general manager Jim Benning hopes to have all his players return to Vancouver this week in preparation for the start of training camp on July 10.
THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo took to Twitter to report all the Minnesota Wild’s European players will be back in town by Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All 24 NHL teams participating in the playoff tournament expect their players to return to their respective team cities by Friday. That will allow a 14-day quarantine period before Phase 3 commences in two weeks’ time.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Over six months after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom resumed skating with several teammates. Lindblom is completing his treatments and isn’t expected to participate in the playoff tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good sign Lindblom feels strong enough to being skating again. It probably gave the youngster a tremendous physical and mental lift to return to the ice.
Some folks on social media questioned the Flyers allowing Lindblom to take part in small-group training. General manager Chuck Fletcher said every player and staff member must follow strict social distancing guidelines, pointing out the practice facility is a very safe environment. Lindblom also likely had his doctors’ approval.
SPORTSDAY: cites an interview Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns gave to The Athletic detailing his 22-month absence from the NHL as he recovered from head trauma. His journey included battling depression and suicidal thoughts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to the Stars lineup on Jan. 18, netting five points in 17 games before the schedule was paused by COVID-19. He’s the Stars’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves is so excited about returning to play that he drove 2,500 miles from Prince Edward Island to Denver. He chose to drive rather than fly as it would allow him to resume skating at the Avalanche’s practice facility soon after arrival.
Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad (spinal surgery) could be ready to return to the lineup if the Penguins make a deep run in the playoffs.
TSN: Rimouski’s Alexis Lafreniere, Mannheim’s Tim Stutzle, and Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield top Bob McKenzie’s ranking of this year’s top prospects. The NHL Draft Lottery will be held this Friday. Depending on when the playoff tournament ends, the draft could be held in October or November.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports New York Rangers assistant coach Lindy Ruff is among the candidates to become head coach of the New Jersey Devils. Ruff spent 15 years as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and four seasons as the Dallas Stars’ bench boss.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks promoted Martin Madden as their new assistant general manager. Madden was their director of amateur scouting.
Latest on Tyler Johnson, Bo Horvat, Lindy Ruff and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday avoided salary arbitration with center Tyler Johnson, signing him to a seven-year contract worth an annual average value of $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lengthy term for the 26-year-old Johnson at a reasonable salary. He likely would’ve commanded much more on the open market next summer but opted for the security of a long-term deal with the Lightning.
While Johnson has been banged up by injuries in his career, when healthy he’s a swift-skating, productive center. The Lightning’s next notable free agent is left wing Ondrej Palat, who’s arbitration hearing is slated for July 25.
VANCOUVER SUN: There’s talk the Canucks could re-sign center Bo Horvat to a six-year deal this summer. Comparables include Montreal’s Jonathan Drouin (six-years, $33 million), Florida’s Aleksander Barkov (six years, $34.5 million) and Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell (six years, $22.8 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Horvat, 22, completed an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. However, he’s moved up the depth chart of the rebuilding Canucks and is entering his playing prime. He tallied 40 points in 2015-16 and 52 points last season.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The Rangers announced hiring former Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff as an assistant coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks might see this as the Rangers bringing in a possible replacement for bench boss Alain Vigneault. However, this seems more like a depth move for their coaching staff than any suggestion of front office dissatisfaction with Vigneault.
TSN: The Los Angeles Kings named Pierre Turgeon as their “offensive coordinator”. The 47-year-old is a former NHL all-star who finished with 515 career goals.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders named Fred Brathwaite as their new goaltending coach.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Radek Faksa to a three-year, $6.6-million contract. He tallied 33 points in 80 games last season, along with 101 hits and 62 blocked shots.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets re-signed left wing Brandon Tanev to a one-year, $700K contract.
My brief take on the 2017 NHL Draft plus a couple of contract signings & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Rounds two through seven of the 2017 NHL Draft were completed yesterday. The notable trade saw the New York Islanders trade defenseman Travis Hamonic and a fourth-round pick to the Calgary Flames for a 2018 first-round pick and two conditional second-round picks in 2019 or 2020.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the above link for the complete list of players selected in this year’s draft. Follow this link for full details and my analysis of the Hamonic trade.
For me, the biggest takeaway was the lack of significant trade activity involving veteran players. There was so much hype anticipating major deals involving notable stars such as Matt Duchene, Alex Galchenyuk, Dion Phaneuf and Evander Kane that it overshadowed the draft weekend.
The Hamonic deal is noteworthy and there were three blockbuster moves leading up to the opening round involving Jordan Eberle, Brandon Saad, Artemi Panarin and Derek Stepan. But the other big moves failed to materialize, probably because the asking prices were ridiculously high.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The New York Rangers are reportedly set to hire former Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff as an assistant coach.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed defenseman Ben Chiarot to a two-year, $2.8 million contract.
The Los Angeles Kings re-signed forward Andy Andreoff to a two-year deal worth an average annual value worth over $677K.