As we inch closer to the eventual resumption of the NHL season (pending an agreement between the league and players’ association), Friday night will give hockey fans a little theatre when Phase 1 of the Draft Lottery is conducted.
Like everything else right now, this year’s version is going to operate a little differently.
Fifteen teams will still be involved in the lottery and the overall odds will not change from recent years. The bottom-seven teams, those not returning to play this season, will be directly involved in the lottery, though remember, Ottawa holds San Jose’s pick.
There will also be eight “placeholder” teams to represent those who get eliminated in the best-of-five play-in series to come at a later date. So there’s a chance we won’t know which team picks first, second or third after Friday.
Due to the unusual circumstances, this year’s potentially two-phase lottery could result in a wild order at the top of the draft. Teams that otherwise wouldn’t have sniffed the lottery now have a small chance to end up with the first-overall pick.
So, with that in mind, in this week’s Sportsnet NHL newsletter we wanted to note a few of the wilder possibilities that could result from this year’s lottery.
1. Edmonton Oilers win another one
Oilers fans would prefer that “winning another one” would refer to Stanley Cups and not No. 1 picks, but here we are. Edmonton famously held the first-overall selection three years in a row and then won the Connor McDavid lottery in 2015 to give them the top selection in four of six drafts from 2010 to 2015. If that’s all you knew about the situation, you’d probably assume the Oilers were a multi-championship powerhouse by now.
They’re not there yet, though Edmonton did take a big step this year. By standings points, they were the fourth-best team in the Western Conference at the pause, but did not get a top-four bye since those were measured by points percentage (the Oilers had played two more games than Dallas).
So now Edmonton will meet Chicago in the play-in round. If a placeholder team wins the No. 1–overall selection on Friday and Edmonton loses to the Blackhawks, they would then have a 12.5 per cent chance to pick first, and what a game-changer that’d be. Leon Draisaitl has two comfortable, supremely skilled wingers alongside him right now, but the Oilers are still searching for a permanent fit next to McDavid. If Alexis Lafreniere were to fall into their laps, it would be easier to swallow a defeat and make the team that much stronger going forward.
2. How about the Penguins?
Pittsburgh was even better than Edmonton this season and had the seventh-best points percentage in the league at the pause, but were fifth-best in the East so they narrowly missed out on the bye as well.
Already with multiple Cups from this core, the Penguins will remain all in so long as Evgeni Malkin and/or Sidney Crosby are on the roster. We’re not counting down an imminent end to their days of contention, but all of the key players here are over 30 now. How much could a window be extended by adding Lafreniere to Crosby or Malkin’s wing?
Lafreniere became just the second player to ever win back-to-back CHL Player of the Year honours this season, joining — you guessed it — Crosby. The 18-year-old prospect is also coming out of the same Rimouski Oceanic organization that Crosby did. The odds of this happening may be extremely long (the Pens would need to lose to the Canadiens first), but it might be worth it for the reaction gifs alone.
3. The Rangers could win the Cup and the first pick
There’s only one team this could possibly happen to, and it would take nothing short of a miracle. But here goes…
The Carolina Hurricanes technically hold two first-round picks — their own and Toronto’s. They sent one of those conditionally to the Rangers in a trade earlier this season, in which New York will get the lower of the two picks. However, the Leafs’ pick is top-10 protected, so if it does end up inside that top three, Toronto will keep it and send next year’s to Carolina instead.
Here’s where it gets interesting: If two placeholder teams win a top-three spot in Friday’s lottery, and if in the second lottery phase Carolina’s pick ends up being first overall and Toronto’s follows (they’d need to lose to Columbus to be in it), then New York would get No. 1, Toronto would retain theirs, and Carolina would be left out of it.
Adding another wrinkle to this is that New York faces Carolina in the play-in round and would need to eliminate them for this to be at all possible. From there, New York could go on a miraculous Cinderella run, win the Stanley Cup against great odds, and still pick first overall.
4. Ottawa wins or loses big
Though Detroit has the best individual shot at winning the first-overall pick as the last-placed team, Ottawa has the best chance to pick first overall. That’s because not only do they hold their own pick (which comes with the second-best odds) but also San Jose’s, which comes with the third-best odds. Ottawa has a 25 per cent chance of ending up with Alexis Lafreniere and are very much in the running to land both of the top two spots.
If that happens, the Senators would instantly speed up their rebuild.
This could go another way, though. What if Ottawa doesn’t win any of those top three picks? Heck, what if each of the top three picks are won by placeholder teams?
In the latter scenario, Ottawa would be left with picks five and six — that’s still not a bad spot to be, but certainly not a preferred outcome.
NHL, NHLPA on verge of labour peace; plan to resume games Aug. 1 – TSN
Amid the most uncertain times in hockey’s 102-year history, two sides that haven’t often been able to find common ground over the past three decades – the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association – are on the verge of labour peace.
All it took was a global pandemic, where the grim reality of a game on pause since March 12 left little other choice.
The NHL and NHLPA announced a signed memorandum of understanding on Monday on an all-encompassing string of bargained items, including a four-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Phases 3 and 4 of the Return-to-Play plan.
The MOU must be ratified by both the NHL’s board of governors and NHLPA’s full membership to become official, possibly by close of business this week.
Both votes are expected to pass handily. A two-thirds affirmative vote is required from the BOG, while a simple majority is required from the NHLPA. The entire membership will vote on the package, including players from the seven teams that are not participating in the league’s restart.
TSN reported on the details of how the NHL plans to pull off a 24-team tournament in two strict ‘bubbles’ in Toronto and Edmonton.
Here is the framework of the new CBA, much of which was already reported on Saturday:
> Critical Dates: Training camps are scheduled to open on July 13, with teams slated to arrive in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton by July 26, with games scheduled for Aug. 1. Absent of a COVID-19 outbreak that shuts down play, the Stanley Cup would be on track to be awarded in the first week of October.
The Alexis Lafreniere Draft Lottery sweepstakes is slated to be held on Aug. 10, with the NHL Draft to follow in mid-October. Free agency would take place in the fall for the first time in league history on Nov. 1.
> Term: The new CBA will have a term of six years, ensuring labour peace through at least 2025-26. That makes it a four-year extension on top of the two that were already remaining. It can also be extended one extra year if the escrow debt from 2019-20 owing to owners exceeds $125 million at the end of the deal.
> Salary cap: The salary cap’s upper limit will be frozen for 2020-21 at $81.5 million and remain there until hockey-related revenue returns to $4.8 billion – the amount projected for this 2019-20 season before the pandemic hit.
Once HRR rebounds to $4.8 billion, the upper limit will be calculated using a new formula that relies on the actual HRR from two seasons ago, plus the projected HRR from the immediately prior season.
> Rookie pay bump: For the first time since 2005, rookies will be able to earn slightly more on their entry-level contracts. Individual performance “A” bonus maximums will increase from $850,000 to $1 million per year.
The new maximum any player can earn in any single year of his entry-level contract will be $3.925 million if all attainable bonuses are triggered.
> No ‘ringers’ in playoffs: Draft picks such as Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov and the Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin – all of whom played in the KHL this season – will be allowed to sign contracts that burn off the 2019-20 season on their deal, but they will not be permitted to play in the 24-team tournament.
This was a compromise made by the two sides, allowing players to financially benefit, while maintaining the integrity of the game as deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in May that it wasn’t in the league’s best interest to have ‘ringers’ to join teams for the most important games of the season.
> Olympic participation: As reported, NHL players will participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2026 Milan Olympics, pending negotiation with the IIHF and IOC.
> No signing bonus limits: There will be no changes to the signing bonus system in the new CBA. During negotiations, the NHL was believed to have sought to limit signing bonuses to a maximum of 50 per cent of the total contract compensation.
> Cap recapture limit: For all players subject to a cap recapture penalty, the maximum salary cap charge moving forward will be the players’ normal salary cap hit.
Example: If Shea Weber retired prior to the 2025-26 season, the Nashville Predators (the team that signed him to the deal and enjoyed the benefit of his cap hit being well below the actual dollars paid to him those years) were scheduled to be on the hook for a $24.6 million salary cap penalty.
Now, under the new terms of the CBA, that amount would be limited to Weber’s normal cap hit of $7.86 million in any one season – but it would continue to be charged for three full seasons until the cap ‘benefit’ is paid back.
This only affects a small number of contracts still active: Duncan Keith (Chicago), Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (Minnesota), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Jeff Carter (Los Angeles), and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles).
> Playoff share increase: The playoff bonus pool is doubling this season from $16 million to $32 million. A player on a team that loses in the best-of-five qualifying round will receive $20,000. Players in each round will see bonuses increase from there, with a share from the Stanley Cup winning team worth $240,000 per player.
After this season, the playoff pool is expected to return to $20 million for 2020-21.
> Final paycheque: The players’ final paycheque from the 2019-20 regular season campaign, which had been deferred until this point, will go to repaying their debt to owners. That totalled roughly $140 million USD.
> Escrow cap: While they work to repay their debt to owners, players cannot pay a higher escrow percentage than:
2020-21: 20 per cent
2021-22: 14-18 per cent (TBD)
2022-23: 10 per cent
2023-24: 6 per cent
2024-25: 6 per cent
2025-26: 6 per cent
> Salary deferral: Players will defer 10 per cent of both salary and signing bonus for the 2020-21 season, which will be paid back to players in three equal instalments in 2023-24, 2024-25 and 2025-26.
> No-trade/no-move clauses: All no-trade and no-move clauses will travel with the player in a trade, even if the player is traded before the clause kicks in.
Example: The Montreal Canadiens traded defenceman P.K. Subban days before his no-move clause kicked in. The Nashville Predators, the team that acquired Subban, subsequently voided Subban’s no-move clause, then making him susceptible later to a trade to New Jersey.
> Frontloaded variability limit: All new ‘frontloaded’ deals – any contract defined as which the player receives more compensation in the first half of the deal than the second half – will be limited to less than 50 per cent variability between the highest compensation and lowest compensation years.
> Minimum salary: The NHL minimum salary is increasing from $700,000 this season to $750,000 next season. The new league minimum salary is:
> Post-career health care subsidy: Players also received a $3,500 to $5,000 retirement health care subsidy.
> Rehab choice: Players will now be able to rehab long-term injuries in a place or city of their choice unless their team can prove that rehab will not be possible there.
> No European Waivers: Call this the Ryan O’Reilly Rule. Players who play in Europe will no longer require waivers to come back to the NHL, provided they sign their NHL contract by Dec. 15. Previously, if a player played in Europe after the start of the regular season, waivers were required. The Flames signed O’Reilly to an offer sheet in 2013 during the lockout while he was holding out from Colorado in the KHL; if the Avalanche had not matched, he would have been subjected to waivers and the Flames likely would have lost him.
> Additional Points: 1) Players whose contract expires after 2020-21 are eligible to sign a contract extension that begins in the 2021-22 season three days after the new CBA is ratified.
2) Players on teams that are not participating in 24-team format, plus players who opt-out of participating, will be eligible to sign contacts outside of North America – but will not be able to return to the NHL for the 2020-21 season. Only players that wouldn’t be permitted to return for 2020-21 season are players who opt-out. Players on the seven teams not in the tournament, then sign outside of North America, would still be eligible to return next season if offered a deal.
3) Players that sign new contracts for 2019-20 to burn year may not be paid a signing bonus for 2019-20 and cannot be paid 2020-21 signing bonus until November.
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli
NHL’s impending labour peace a huge win amid difficult times – Sportsnet.ca
A strange sensation may have washed over you early Monday evening.
Call it the promise of labour peace in our time.
Unless you are middle-aged, or took a keen interest in labour negotiations before grade school, this isn’t something you’ve experienced courtesy of the NHL. Before this announcement of a memorandum of understanding to extend the collective bargaining agreement through the 2025-26 season, if ratified, you have known the 2012-13 lockout … and the 2004-05 lockout that wiped out the entire season … and the 1994-95 lockout … and the 1992 strike.
That dispute-filled past provides context every bit as important to this agreement as our uncertain present, which underpins the new deal. The transition rules and a four-year extension to the CBA are built around sharing the economic pain brought on by the coronavirus pandemic until more prosperous days return.
Let it be said that this is what leadership looks like in difficult times.
Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr found sensible solutions to shared problems without resorting to any of the hostility or grandstanding these negotiations are typically known for. They and their respective leadership teams started meeting out of the spotlight last summer before recalibrating on the fly and piecing together the framework for this agreement amid a health crisis that poses a significant threat to their industry and many others.
That required the CBA to be negotiated on a parallel track to agreements governing intensive return-to-play protocols and the location of hub cities. It was done while also finalizing the details of a 24-team tournament to complete the season and agreeing to a new critical dates calendar with the Stanley Cup set to be awarded in early October.
Looking back now, it all seems so orderly.
But that belies the fact it was a tangled unpredictable mess when the season was put on pause in March, like a big ball of yarn strewn across the floor.
The CBA must now be ratified as part of an all-encompassing return-to-play package because the entire thing is inextricably linked. The NHL Board of Governors will hold its vote in the coming days and needs three-quarters support. Once the NHL Players’ Association gets approval from its Executive Board and concludes a period where it educates players about the deal, a full membership vote will be taken that requires a majority for ratification.
If everything goes forward without any hiccups, they could be in position to officially announce the planned resumption of the season by Friday.
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.
There will likely be some opposition votes cast on the players’ end — “It won’t be a landslide,” predicted one source, who has been part of NHLPA calls throughout the negotiations — but it’s important to note that the agreement permits any player to opt out of the summer restart without penalty if he does so within 72 hours of the ratification process being completed.
The NHL intends to hold its summer tournament in Edmonton and Toronto with games starting on Aug. 1, which if successful would mark the first time the Stanley Cup playoffs were held entirely in Canada since 1925, according to Sportsnet Stats.
Getting to the stage where a restart was possible required a complex rethinking of the NHL’s economic system. Even though the current CBA was due to run through September 2022, a negotiated extension was needed with the league set to lose more than a $1 billion for the 2019-20 season and even more than that in a 2020-21 campaign that will likely be played in buildings at less than full capacity because of COVID-related restrictions.
Under the new deal, players will defer 10 per cent of next season’s salary and see another 20 per cent contributed to capped escrow. The upper limit of the salary cap will be held flat at $81.5 million and remain there until hockey-related revenue (HRR) returns to $4.8 billion — at which point the cap will start being calculated using a new formula that relies on the actual HRR from two seasons back, plus the projected HRR from the season prior.
The bonus pool for the pandemic playoffs is doubling to $32 million and, as first reported by colleague Elliotte Friedman, Olympic participation will resume for Beijing 2022 and Milan 2026, pending a subsequent agreement with the IOC.
The players will also see increasingly favourable escrow caps applied throughout the deal while the length of the agreement will be extended by a year if the debt owed back to owners exceeds $125 million at its conclusion. More CBA details can be found here.
Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.
Lawyers for the NHL and NHLPA had some late nights in the last week while grinding over the final details of the tentative deal, but it looked nothing like the manner in which the current agreement got across the finish line.
That happened at 4:45 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2013 at the end of a marathon 16-hour bargaining session inside the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Bettman and Fehr looked exhausted while sharing the news with reporters who camped out in the lobby through the night, ending a lockout that spanned 113 days with Fehr saying: “Hopefully, within a very few days the fans can get back to watching people who are skating — not the two of us.”
This time around they were barely seen at all.
Difficult days demanded a different approach.
And it’s greatly increased the odds we’ll soon emerge from a paused season with the chance to see players compete for the Stanley Cup as a result.
Trump criticizes Redskins, Indians sports teams for considering name changes – Global News
President Donald Trump on Monday criticizing a pair of sports teams that are considering name changes in the wake of a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.
Trump tweeted, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”
Trump, in his tweet, also mentioned Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying, “Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” Trump has repeatedly mocked Warren, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, for claiming Native American heritage, derisively calling her “Pocahontas.”
The NFL’s Redskins announced Friday that they had begun a “thorough review” of their name, which has been deemed offensive by Native American groups for decades. The Redskins’ decision came after FedEx, which paid $205 million for naming rights to the team’s stadium, and other corporate partners called for the team to change its nickname.
Hours later, the Indians Major League Baseball team announced that they, too, will review their long-debated name.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said in a statement.
Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name
Trump has spent the last few days stoking divisions and exploiting racial tensions, accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
Earlier Monday, he lashed out at NASCAR and wrongly accused the sport’s only full-time Black driver of perpetrating “a hoax” when a crew member found a noose in the team garage stall.
Trump had tweeted in 2013 that then-President Barack Obama “should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name” because “our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them, not nonsense.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
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