One of the points discussed during the bi-weekly NHL general managers’ teleconference on Tuesday was the idea of conducting the 2020 draft practically in June, before the end of the 2019-2020 season, as reported for the first time. times the TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun.
This is just one of the options being considered, but holding the project in June would be unprecedented in terms of timing and presentation.
No draft was ever done before the Stanley Cup, just as no draft was ever done by video conference call – as the NFL will do on Thursday evening.
But technology is far from the biggest obstacle in the NHL.
Because there are a myriad of complications and questions that should be answered first for the 31 teams in the league and the NHL Players’ Association:
> With the current season, how would the classification of the provisional Lottery be formulated? Would the current ranking be frozen, would it be based on a percentage of points or on another format, such as the decline of 68 games?
> What would happen to selection projects with conditions? It’s not as complicated as you might think. Once the classification is finalized for the draft and the lottery balls are drawn, many, if not all, conditions will be met.
For example, if the Islanders qualify for the playoffs, the February 24 first round pick choice involving Jean-Gabriel Pageau officially belong to the Ottawa Senators. Or if the Islanders win the draw, the choice will become a confirmed first-round choice in 2021. Either way, the conditions are met. Only one choice in 2020 depends on a team that wins the Stanley Cup – but that could easily be converted in 2021.
> Could the teams make exchanges with the current players? Traditionally, this player would not be eligible to play in the playoffs. This is perhaps the biggest problem with the proposal with the season not over. The days leading up to the draft traditionally mark one of the busiest weeks for trading on the hockey calendar.
Would offers be limited to choices for choices? Or limited to non-qualifying clubs? Or limited to players moving from an elimination team to a non-elimination team?
> Will the 2020-2021 salary cap be set before the drafting is completed? Think of the draft last June in Vancouver, when the Canucks acquired J.T. Meunier from Tampa Bay for a first round pick. This trade was a mechanism for the Lightning to wipe out the wage cap space, the kind of deal that Tampa Bay and many other teams may need to reexamine given the changing income environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Removing this ability from the teams could be enough to cancel the proposal.
Another element discussed during the appeal was the salary cap. As noted earlier, teams have been advised that a potential option is to keep the salary cap at $ 81.5 million, but this has not been blocked and all scenarios are still under consideration.
> What will happen to the draft choices exchanged before the February 24 deadline? No one would have expected COVID-19 to close the NHL season, but it is clear that the teams were not planning to confiscate property to take advantage of only their rental player’s services for two weeks.
It is very unlikely that the transactions will be canceled. Each first-round pick exchanged during the cut-off period was for a player with a fixed term on his contract, or in the case of Pageau, was signed for a long-term extension upon arrival. The exception is Taylor hall, which was traded on December 16, and the Coyotes played exactly as many games with Hall as without him.
But the Canucks have one of the most significant cases of compensatory choices. General Manager Jim Benning traded two second-round picks and two real hire prospects Tyler Toffoli February 17. Should they be entitled to two compensatory choices at the end of the second round if the season does not resume?
Vegas also traded a second-round pick for a goalie Robin lehner, Washington traded a second and conditional third for Brenden Dillon and the Islanders made a second-round pick and a prospect of Andy Greene.
> Once all of these complications – most unexpected – resolved, the big question that remains to be asked of the NHL would be: What is the advantage for the league and its teams to jump through these hoops?
A quick temperature check by a number of GMs on Tuesday revealed that this is a proposal that may not be universally accepted.
“It seems like a lot of work for little gain,” said a managing director.
“It makes no sense,” said another managing director. “I think it just gives you guys [the media] something to tell. “
That may be it, exactly.
The answer could be that the NHL could generate a lot of buzz and attention before the puck dropped when the 2019-2020 season resumed in July, this proposal coming the week the NFL draft headlines in a quiet period without sports.
It’s just that limiting the big exchanges of projects – and the ability of Commissioner Gary Bettman to get into a web chat produced by Zoom with a “we have a job to announce…” – can take much of the entertainment value.
So, in a year where the repechage already works differently – with probably no combined repechage and three critical viewing opportunities canceled in the World Under-18 Championship, the CHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup – Tuesday’s proposal was welcomed by teams apprehended many questions.
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli