In today’s NHL rumor rundown, even as the NHL season essentially comes to a halt on the ice, off the ice things are busy and front offices will still be active looking for the best way to help their teams.
The Los Angeles Kings have made an offer to a KHL player with other KHL’ers getting some attention. The Edmonton Oilers have to be uncertain about the trade deadline deals and there are early projections on how the NHL Draft will work while the league is playing with options for the NHL playoffs.
Kings Offer Nesterov Deal
Nikita Nesterov had drawn some interest after a strong season with CSKA Moscow in the KHL. Just 26-years old, it appears the Los Angeles Kings have offered him a two-year deal worth $6 million to come back to the NHL, according to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express.
Unfortunately for the Kings, Nesterov reportedly has an agreement with CSKA on a five-year extension, and will be staying put. Other names like Kirill Kaprizov, Anton Slepyshev, Mikhail Grigorenko and Alexey Marchenko are getting attention too. All will become unrestricted free agents when their KHL contracts expire at the end of April.
A Long NHL Pause Could Impact Oilers Decisions
According to Allan Mitchell of The Athletic, a long NHL break could pose serious questions for the Edmonton Oilers and what they do with recent trade deadline acquisitions. They were among the busier of teams this season.
Mitchell writes, “The season’s interruption could be especially detrimental to Athanasiou’s future with the Oilers. He seemed to be more comfortable in recent games.”
Noting that Mike Green could be done in Edmonton if the season doesn’t return and that Athansiou could be flipped during the summer for a pick because he’s not shown what he needed to in a short time period to get a long-term extension, Mitchell suggests the test drive with these players might have only benefited Tyler Ennis, who has made a case to be re-signed.
We don’t know the future. Both Ennis and Athanasiou have not yet established themselves as locks for employment in Edmonton next season and time might not allow for a full view of these two wingers.source – ‘Lowetide: NHL season on hold might impact Oilers evaluations, summer plans’ – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 03/13/2020
Major Impact on the NHL Draft?
With the season on hold and some projections stating that this could be months, not weeks of inaction, questions will start forming around other events related to the upcoming season, including the NHL Entry Draft.
With the lottery expected to take place next month, how the draft itself will take place will need to be figured out. Early speculation is that it could take place online and/or at a later date instead of being held at Montreal’s Bell Centre on June 26-27.
Could the NHL hold the draft online, streaming it for fans to watch? This would be a first.
What will be interesting to see is how heavily scouts start to rely on video leading up to the draft. Most NHL teams are now telling their scouts to stay home or stopping them from traveling, and if teams start to heavily lean on video — which is something NFL teams tend to do to run their scouting departments — this becomes an interesting exercise for the NHL which could see a shift moving forward.
Related: Filip Forsberg Trade Revisited
What About NHL Playoffs?
At this point, with so little known about the “pause” in the NHL, how it will affect the playoffs is also unknown. That hasn’t stopped insiders from putting together projections and ideas.
When the league put things on hold, they did not explain what the plan was for the postseason even though a lot of teams asked while on the conference call that suspended the season. All that was directed by the NHL, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, was that teams were to provide an arena availability schedule through the end of July.
With no clear timeline on when things will resume, the consensus seems to be that playing playoffs is far more important than starting next season on time. Knowing owners want to get the games in and award the Stanley Cup to someone, how do they decide who gets in? How many teams? Where do they rank in the standings having all played different amounts of games?
Right now, the prevailing thought is that the season might go right into the playoffs, and seeding would be based on points percentage—rather than points in the standings.
Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter John Dietz tweeted that one suggestion the heard “was to allow 24 teams into the playoffs. Give the top 4 seeds in each conference a bye and make the 5-12 teams play a best-of-three.”
NHL and Team Employees Out of Work
In a move that will likely see a number of NHL teams follow, New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer say they have committed to paying hourly/event staff for postponed games and Prudential Center events. According to Elliotte Friedman, they released a statement “Employees are family…It’s important to band together and lift each other up during these times.”
Mark Cuban had done something similar in the NBA and it’s hard to imagine NHL teams won’t figure out ways to ensure their arena and staff team who rely on these hourly wages aren’t dramatically affected by the crisis.
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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