As the NHL appears to be creeping closer to starting the 2020 NHL Playoffs, it appears that more information is coming to light about what rosters could look like when things get going. Also, we will discuss the Edmonton Oilers extending their ECHL affiliate agreement and prospect Jake Neighbours.
New Signings May Not Be Eligible for Playoffs
Early on July 1, Bob McKenzie dropped some potentially important news regarding the eligibility of certain players for the upcoming playoffs.
If this information turns out to be in the final agreement, this could have a major impact on teams that were hoping to pull in some needed new talent for the playoffs. All three of the players listed by McKenzie could have played meaningful time for their respective teams, and there are many others that fans were hoping would get some starting time.
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It’s not uncommon for prospects to join a team late in the season/ for the playoffs when their other hockey obligations are finished. For example, Cale Makar made his first 10 NHL starts for the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs last year, playing more than 17 minutes each night.
This decision could always change, as McKenzie mentions. So for now, keep an eye out if you cheer for one of the many teams who were hoping to add some new faces for the playoffs.
Oilers Announce ECHL Club Extension
With so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 season, the Oilers decided to take care of one of their question marks for the offseason. They announced a multi-year extension with their current ECHL affiliate, the Wichita Thunder, allowing them to keep the continuity of their minor-league system in place for the near future.
As said by Bill Scott, Director of Salary Cap Management & Assistant to the President of Hockey Operations, in the press release:
The Thunder have been first-class partners over the past three seasons and we are very confident in Coach Ramsay and the Thunder organization to develop future players for the Condors and Oilers.
While it may be easy to overlook an extension like this, it is important for minor-league prospects to know exactly where they will be playing in the future, especially with so little being known about next season. The Thunder have been a great piece of the pipeline for the Oilers since the 2017-18 season, helping to develop prospects for the franchise.
Prospect of the Day: Jake Neighbours
With today’s prospect of the day, I wanted to look at Jake Neighbours, a player who might be getting overlooked at the 2020 Draft. While many thought he would be a sure-first first-round pick a few years ago, his development has gone relatively slowly, pushing him down some draft boards.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
However, even with a few question marks surrounding him, Neighbours is far from a bad prospect. He is projected to be selected in the early second-round, with the potential to slip into round-one. As stated by Dayton Reimer of THW:
Neighbours’ blend of physicality and scoring prowess has some comparing him to Matthew Tkachuk. His offensive ceiling might not be as high, but his hockey IQ and vision are definitely assets that could help him achieve that level of success in the NHL. He is very smart when throwing hits and rarely takes bad penalties…
At the draft, Neighbours could be an absolute late-first to early-second round steal, especially if he is able to develop into the player some believed that he could be a few years back.
He has the hockey IQ and build of a starter, and if given time, Neighbours could very well be taking on meaningful playing time for a franchise by the time he turns 21.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.