NHL Rumors: Oilers, Penguins, Sharks, NHLPA Votes, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, the players have voted on the 24-team playoff bracket suggestion by the league. Is NHL action one step closer? The Edmonton Oilers and the city of Edmonton are pushing hard to host games, and will the San Jose Sharks trade either Tomas Hertl or Kevin Labanc?

NHLPA Approves 24-Team Playoff Format

It appears the NHL is one-step closer to resuming play and potentially closer than at any point they’ve been since the league hit pause on the season. While there is still lots to iron out, late Friday night, the NHLPA announced that they voted to proceed with discussions on the 24-team playoff format that was proposed by the league. Their full statement:

The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.​

Apparently, only two of the 31 team reps voted no. There was apparently speculation the Pittsburgh Penguins were one of those teams, but that mistake was cleared up after Kris Letang said they voted yes, and the source of initial report looked into things further.

Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now posted a retraction on his initial report saying they had confirmed with the organization the club voted yes.

As per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the exact format of the proposed playoff format hasn’t been ratified but speculation is that this set-up would see the top four seeds in each conference get a bye through play-in rounds which would see the other 16 teams play a best-of-five series to narrow the field down to a traditional 16 clubs.

Related: Do You Know Your NHL Goalie Trivia?

Oilers Putting on Full-Court Press to Host Games

One of things that will need to be figured out from the NHL’s perspective is where the games will be played. They’ll likely choose a few host cities or hubs from which the many games will happen. Edmonton is looking more and more likely as one of those teams.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the Oilers and the city are trying to present the most hospitable situation possible for players. He writes on Twitter:

Curious what NHL players think about this? Edmonton is rolling out an impressive “lifestyle” presentation in its Hub city quest. Secured golf course. Cool temps. Outdoor big screens for movies/other games. Some fun stuff planned. More tonight in Insider Trading. 

Related: One for the Ages: Charlie Hodge’s 1970-71 NHL Season

Sharks to Move Some Big-Name Forwards?

In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz of The Athletic discussed the possibility the San Jose Sharks might trade Tomas Hertl or Kevin Labanc. While he doesn’t believe the Sharks will move Hertl and his $5.625-million annual average salary, he does think Labanc could be a prime trade candidate.

Kurz writes:

… his value has gone down from this time last year, when many figured he had earned a multi-year contract worth something like $3-4 million annually. I certainly wouldn’t offer him that much if I was in Wilson’s position, and if that’s the case, I wonder how Labanc’s camp might take it. Arbitration doesn’t seem out of the question in this instance, and it’s part of the reason I believe Labanc could be a candidate to get moved this offseason whenever trades are permitted.

source ‘ Sharks mailbag: June draft would not be ideal; what is Kevin Labanc worth?’ – Kevin Kurz – The Athletic – 05/14/2020
Kevin Labanc - Sharks
Kevin Labanc, San Jose Sharks, Oct. 9, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Labanc, 26, is a restricted free agent completing a one-year, $1-million contract and has arbitration rights. He bet on himself last season by taking less than he probably should have and it didn’t pay off.

Still with the Sharks, NBC Sports Bay Area columnist Marcus White suggests the team address their need for a reliable backup goaltender by pursuing a trade for Alexandar Georgiev. The 24-year-old has been in the rumor mill and the New York Rangers have three netminders. They need to do something with one of them.

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