It needs to be upfront that this NHL return deal is tentative pending approval. As of late yesterday, the NHL and NHLPA had a potential deal in place to start January 13 and play 56 games. Also, the deal includes a slight divisonal realignment that puts the Minnesota Wild in the American West and moves the Dallas Stars to the American Central.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, that means the Group of Death (as Pete DeBoer called it) would change slightly. The new division would be as follows: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. The Dallas Stars were moved out in favor of Minnesota for competitive balance. It actually makes things a little easier for the Golden Knights in the pending division. The Wild are still in transition and have shown great potential, but the Stars are once again in the running for the Stanley Cup Final.
Training camps opening January 3 for all teams in the return to play last year. The seven non-playoff teams can start early on New Year’s Eve.
The regular season would end May 8, and playoffs would begin shortly after and the Stanley Cup awarded by the first week of July.
The NHL’s Board of Governors and NHLPA will need to ratify the agreement first. It’s possible the NHL BoG votes Sunday or Monday.
Of course, there are other hurdles to be cleared. The five provincial health authorities must also clear games to be played north of the border. Thus far, the clearance has not been granted. If for whatever reason the clearance is not granted, it’s possible that there may be another hub city setup. Edmonton has been contacted by the league about being that hub this season.
Meanwhile in the U.S., San Jose still isn’t sure whether they’ll play at home or not, and other teams could be impacted.
TSN has a great article summarizing other changes including players being paid 72% of their salaries for this season, players having the ability to opt out of the season, and rosters remaining capped at 23 players with a taxi squad.
Essentially the NHL return agreement must be ratified on both sides, which seems likely to happen with no further amending. Once that happens, the government clearances need to be obtained. The NHL and NHLPA will have to abide by whatever health codes are necessary. Quarantine issues will need to be worked out. If everything is ironed out accordingly, expect seven teams that haven’t gathered together since March of 2020 to ring in the new year with the sound of steel on ice.
Keep your fingers crossed.
Golden Knights Training Camp Day 2 In The Books
Yesterday was a very exciting day as the Vegas Golden Knights took to the ice for the first time in training camp. Day Two wasn’t nearly as exciting, but necessary as things moved forward. Here are a few key takeaways from today’s action.
As of now, Nick Holden remains on what I’ll pencil in as the 7/8 pair with Dylan Coghlan. As I said yesterday don’t read too far into things because the Golden Knights are going to need eight solid D to make this season work. For the time being, it looks like Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague are going to get a chance to show what they can do as a unit. Alex Pietrangelo remained with Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore with Alec Martinez.
Today was more of a jumble of lines as some guys get a look playing up. Among them was Tomas Jurco who took the place of Max Pacioretty with Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone. Jurco is a guy I love for the VGK because this season because he’s a vet who can slide into the lineup on a moment’s notice and play a variety of roles. Definitely a taxi squad guy who makes you feel better about your depth.
Also, Stephenson is still centering this line. I know many of you wonder if Cody Glass is going to get his shot at the 2C but not yet. Stephenson did look good today, generating a scoring chance off a stretch pass up the middle and showing some speed. He’s skating with confidence early in camp, and I would not be surprised to see him exactly where he is now come opening night.
Finally, it was nice to see Jonathan Marchessault score for the second straight day. If he warms those goal-scoring hands up early, it could be a tremendous campaign for him.
Keep your browser pointed here for more camp coverage!
Tom’s Daily: Handicapping the West Division; Stepan to Sens
Tom’s Daily: Looking at the West Division; Vegas Golden Knights prospect Brandon Kruseand his unusual senior season; Stepan sent to the Sens; VGK fans have a new streaming option this season.
The West Division should be a fun, competitive division this year. At least in the top half. Here’s NHL.com’s look at how things might shake out. (NHL.com)
Brandon Kruse is working his way through an unusual senior season at Bowling Green. The Golden Knights prospect is projeting better than a point-per-game so far on the ice. (NHL.com)
Derek Stepan was shipped to the Ottawa Senators from the Arizona Coyotes, giving the Sens more center depth and eating up a chunk of that free cap space they had. (Sportsnet)
Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be playing in the NHL this year. Or next year. (NHL.com)
Michael Del Zotto signs a pro tryout contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Expect a lot of fringe NHL guys who don’t have deals to be competing for jobs this year. (Sportsnet)
Five questions facing the Florida Panthers heading into training camp. This team could be really good. It could also not. (FloridaHockeyNow)
According to Larry Brooks from the New York Post, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the only major league sports team to receive a paycheck protection loan totaling $4.82M. (New York Post)
Longtime NHL player and executive Dave Poulin is writing for the Toronto Star. Here’s his debut piece. (Toronto Star)
Tom’s Daily: New VGK Schedule; Pacioretty, Lehner Busts?; NHL Breaking News
Tom’s Daily: Breaking NHL news! Plus the Vegas Golden Knights have a schedule and we break it down for you; Bolts find cap relief but it’s not good; more
Vegas Golden Knights
Just in case you missed it, the NHL schedule dropped yesterday and we broke it down for you here. (VHN)
Here’s the team/league release on the schedule as well. (NHL.com)
Breaking News: It looks like the NHL has permission to move forward in Canadian cities. That’s a major sigh of relief. (Sportsnet)
Whew! Gritty has been cleared to return to NHL games this season. (The Hill)
Nikita Kucherov is going to miss the regular season due to hip surgery. While the Lightning certainly don’t want to be without one of the best players in today’s game, it certainly helps their situation with his $9.5M cap hit moved to LTIR. (Tampa Bay Times)
Ryan Miller is back with the Anaheim Ducks on a one-year deal and I love it. I hope Miller, one of the nicest guys in the game, gets to his milestone of 400 wins. It won’t happen this season unless something goes crazy sideways, but he needs 13 more to do it. (ESPN)
The Arizona State University men’s hockey team decided to start the season with a monster 36-day road trip. My personal longest road trip was 18 days and that was a nightmare. I can’t imagine double that. As it turns out, the team wanted it this way. (ESPN)
Are you all fans of fantasy hockey content? I can post more of that type of stuff if you are, let me know in the comments. For now, I’m putting this in here because of Max Pacioretty’s featured status as a fantasy “bust” for this season. Oh, and add Robin Lehner too. Not sure I agree, but here you go. (CBS)