NHL News & Rumors: Wild, Oilers, Maple Leafs, CBA, Hub Cities…

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the question about hub cities seems to finally be answered as a number of reports are confirming that Edmonton and Toronto are going to be named the two NHL host locations. What does that mean for the Oilers and Maple Leafs?

Along with the hub discussions, a ton of developments have been seemingly settled when it comes to a new CBA, there is news on international contracts, the Olympics, and one player reaches out encouraging others to opt-in to returning.

Toronto and Edmonton Get the Nod

According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, the two NHL hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto. This report has been confirmed by a few sources, including Sportsnet’s Mark Spector who adds that the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs will both play in their own buildings. He said, “Makes no sense for TV to have East teams out West.”

McKenzie tweeted throughout Tuesday evening that the NHL and NHLPA were going well into the night, working on hammering out the details of a new agreement. He notes those talks have brought with it a solution to most issues on Phase 3/4 RTP, CBA extension, transition rules. He adds:

Barring any last-minute complications, and we have seen some of those (Vancouver and Las Vegas), the two NHL Hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto.

Rogers Place
Rogers Place Arena (Alexscuccato (CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)), from Wikimedia Commons)

There will, of course, be questions about whether or not this provides an unfair advantage to the Oilers or Maple Leafs, but with no fans, it’s hard to see how, other than teams being used to their own facilities.

Ryan Rishaug of TSN reports that there are a few final details being worked on for both cities but nothing that should be considered snags that would rule either city out. He notes of Edmonton:

Additionally, can report that the 6 required ice surfaces will be Rogers Place, the Downtown Community Arena, and the 4 surfaces at the Terwillegar Rec Centre (which will require bussing)

Details of the New NHL CBA

According to Elliotte Friedman, the negotiations that went late into Tuesday evening brought with it some interesting developments when it comes to the next collective bargaining agreement. This includes talk of the salary cap, Olympics, and escrow.

Friedman writes:

Some stuff to look forward to in modified CBA: Flat salary cap (unless changed, numbers were $81.5M next two years, $82.5M in 2022-23); cap on escrow (starting at 20 per cent next season, moving down after that); return to Olympics (pending agreement with IOC).

10 per cent of next season’s salary deferred; language for right to opt-out of Return to Play. Also, NHL fought for changes to contract structure — limits on signing bonuses and less salary fluctuation on a year-to-year basis. We’ll see how that looks.

This will mean next couple of seasons are going to be extremely tight for clubs without cap flexibility.

The new agreement likely includes the players participating in the 2022 Games and Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic indicates that 2026 in Italy (Milan and Cortina) is also currently part of the agreement. 

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New International Players Contracts Not Eligible

According to Bob McKenzie’s understanding of last night’s negotiations, players such as defenceman Alexander Romanov of the Montreal Canadiens, forward Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild and goaltender Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders, will not be eligible for return to play in 2019-20. All three players were brought in from the KHL in hopes they might be able to join their respective teams this season.

Kirill Kaprizov
(Kirill Kaprizov during a 2017-18 KHL game. Photo: cska-hockey.ru)

Michael Russo of The Athletic and a beat reported for the Wild wrote:

NHL exec says report that it has an agreement with the NHLPA to allow players like Kirill Kaprizov to debut this summer is “not correct,” and the #mnwild has been given no update from the NHL on the situation.

Players Can Opt-Out of a Return to Play

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that along with the other issues settled, the NHL and NHLPA agreed on an interim extension on all expiring player contracts. Since contracts typically would have expired last night at midnight, an extension was put in place pending completion of new CBA and agreement on Phase 3 & 4.

Part of agreement is that any player can choose to opt-out of return to play. Considering news that as many as 75% of players have said privately to media that they aren’t sure about a return due to health and safety concerns, this could be a huge development worth watching.

Knowing this is an issue, St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly released a statement, trying to convince fellow players to return to play and not put an end to the NHL’s plan to resume activities. “I think it’s important for our game, the growth of it, to be able to salvage this season and have a winner, not let the whole thing go to waste.”

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