NHL Rumors: Canucks, Senators, Lafreniere, Trade Conditions, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news that Alex Lafreniere might be considering options outside the NHL if the 2020-21 season is delayed too long. Meanwhile, the NHL has decided on what constitutes an NHL playoff teams versus a non-playoff team.

The Vancouver Canucks and other Canadian teams are considering major training camp changes and the Ottawa Senators could be busy this offseason.

The NHL Rules on Playoff Trade Conditions

According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the NHL has determined that the playoffs won’t technically start until the play-in rounds are done and there are 16 teams. That means, for the eight teams that lose, they won’t have been considered playoff teams in 2019-20, which also means any trade conditions that include their organization making the playoffs will not have been met.

Jason Zucker
Jason Zucker (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

LeBrun writes a league representative told him, “We believe this interpretation will best reflect the intentions of the parties at the time of the Trade.” LeBrun adds:

In my opinion, when it comes to conditional trades affected by this ruling, it’s the right call from the league. Nobody made an NHL trade contemplating anything other than 16 teams in the playoffs. So for the spirit and integrity of those trades, this is the right ruling.

source – ‘LeBrun: The NHL’s ruling on conditional trades is the right call’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 05/30.2020

There are a few trades this rule may affect. The Canucks traded their 2020 first-round pick to Tampa Bay for J.T. Miller, conditional on the Canucks making the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins sent a first-round pick to Minnesota for Jason Zucker (assuming the Penguins got into the playoffs).

This does not answer the question about what happens with conditional picks attached to individual regular season production, such as the Milan Lucic and James Neal trade.

Related: Origins of Every NHL Team: Eastern Conference

Lafreniere Might Elect to Play in Europe

With the NHL playoffs potentially not getting underway until July or August, the start of the 2020-21 season could be delayed until November. If so, the consensus first-overall pick might decide to play in a league that starts much earlier, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Rimouski Oceanic Alexis Lafreniere
BOISBRIAND, QC – NOVEMBER 23: Alexis Lafrenière in action in a QMJHL game between the Rimouski Océanics and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on November 23, 2019, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by Vincent Ethier/CHL)

On the recent Insider Trading, McKenzie notes that Lafreniere is likely to look into options that let him start playing on time and if that means finding a deal in Europe, he could take it. McKenzie notes:

“When is the National Hockey League going to begin the 2020-21 season? October? November? December? Even January? We don’t know,” said McKenzie. “On top of all that, where’s Alexis Lafreniere going to play this fall if the NHL season isn’t happening until January and the draft isn’t until October or November? Is the CHL going to be playing? Is the American Hockey League an option? We don’t know at this point. But one thing I can tell you – Emilie Castonguay for Alexis Lafreniere is looking at all the options on the table and that will include seeing if the European club teams are up and operating in September and October.”

One would think that if he’s considering starting elsewhere, he might look for an out clause to join the NHL as soon as their season starts. It would be difficult to know if and how it might affect his draft status if teams knew he wouldn’t be available for his first season.

Related: 2015 NHL Draft Top 10: Where Are They Now?

Senators Could Be Busy This Offseason

The Ottawa Senators are a team that can start making moves now if they want to and while that may not happen, John Matisz of The Score suggests GM Pierre Dorion could be busy.

Craig Anderson Ottawa Senators
Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He has 13 players on expiring contracts, including Craig Anderson and Anthony Duclair and speculation is that Anderson could be brought back on an inexpensive one-year deal. Duclair may have to prove his strong season wasn’t a fluke, also signing a one-year deal to get a long-term offer from the club.

Canucks May Hold Training Camp in U.S.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet recently noted that Vancouver Canucks, led by GM Jim Benning have said they are considering holding their training camp in the U.S.

With questions about quarantines coming into Canada and travel concerns, Friedman reports that Benning doesn’t think they are the only Canadian team considering that.

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