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Random Thoughts: Busy week for NHL

The next four days should provide a lot of discussion. The NHL player awards are tonight. Will Connor McDavid get the Trifecta?

The expansion draft will coincide with the awards and we’ll see who the Las Vegas Knights select, but the bigger story will likely be who they don’t choose and what trades they make. Some of Vegas’ trades will be announced this evening, while the rest will be officially announced on Thursday, but I suspect most will leak out before they are announced officially.

The expansion draft will coincide with the awards and we’ll see who the Las Vegas Knights select, but the bigger story will likely be who they don’t choose and what trades they make. Some of Vegas’ trades will be announced this evening, while the rest will be officially announced on Thursday, but I suspect most will leak out before they are announced officially.

The trade freeze ends Thursday morning, and then the focus shifts to the NHL draft in Chicago. Will we see more trades than usual, because GMs have been talking more leading up to the expansion draft? I’ll take a cautious approach and hopefully be surprised, rather than expect many deals and be disappointed.

Chicago is hosting the draft and they made a huge announcement this morning. Marian Hossa will not play hockey this year.

Hockey fans will have no shortage of story lines to follow over the next four days.

Hossa released this statement earlier today.

“Over the course of the last few years, under the supervision of the Blackhawks medical staff, I have been privately undergoing treatment for a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat the disorder. Due to the severe side effects associated with those medications, playing hockey is not possible for me during the upcoming 2017-18 season. While I am disappointed that I will not be able to play, I have to consider the severity of my condition and how the treatments have impacted my life both on and off the ice.

The Chicago Blackhawks organization, including Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and Stan Bowman, and my agent, Ritch Winter, have been very supportive throughout this entire process. I would also like to thank my teammates and the amazing Blackhawks fans for their understanding. With respect to the privacy of my family, I will not be commenting any further on my health.”

It is a very unfortunate situation, and Elliott Friedman reported Hossa has an allergic reaction to the equipment he wears.

It doesn’t sound very promising, but the timing of the announcement will raise some eyebrows.

Hossa has four years remaining on his 12 year contract. He made $59.3 million the previous eight seasons, but the next four years he will make only $4 million, one million per season. I don’t doubt Hossa has this condition, however, it is fair to question the timing of the announcement. He dealt with it in previous years, but now with his salary sliding down to $1 million/year he doesn’t want to risk it any more. I can understand it. I don’t doubt there are side effects, and only the Hawks medical team and Hossa know how dangerous or painful it is to endure.

Hossa scored 26 goals last season, his second highest goal total in the last five seasons. So he can still play. It’s not like he couldn’t help the Blackhawks on the ice, and I can understand if the health risk isn’t worth the reward for him now that his salary is significantly lower, but instead of retiring Hossa will go on LTIR and that is a massive sayings for the Blackhawks. Had Hossa retired the Blackhawks would have faced a cap recapture penalty of $3.675 million off their cap number for the next four seasons. In this scenario Hossa still gets his money, but not the irritation, while Chicago avoids hefty cap penalty.

Taking the season off gives Chicago some cap flexibility. And I expect this will be a four-year skin problem for Hossa. I’m sure some NHL teams won’t be happy, and even though Hossa’s condition seems valid, the timing doesn’t look great. I hope Hossa’s long-term health is okay, but the Blackhawks cap situation just got a lot better over the next few seasons. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen a team find unique ways to circumvent the salary cap.

I also expect Stan Bowman to make a big move on Friday. Chicago is hosting the draft, the Hawks suddenly have more cap space and they are still stinging from being swept in the first round by Nashville.

QUICK HITS…

  • I had a few conversations with people around the league and one person within the Oilers organization, and they all expect the Oilers to lose Griffin Reinhart in the expansion draft later tonight. “I believe he will be a solid third pairing defender. He isn’t flashy, and he’s taken longer than expected, but I believe he’ll be a regular NHLer for many years,” an NHL scout said on Monday. It likely won’t be with Edmonton though.
  • With defensemen Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Ziyat Paigan and Ryan Mantha in the system, the Oilers will draft a skilled forward at #22. Their high-end offensive skill outside of the NHL roster is very low. They need to draft a forward they believe can become a top-six player in three or four years.
  • “When I played with Ray Bourque I couldn’t understand how any other D-man won the Norris trophy,” said Adam Oates. “I saw Bourque play every day. I saw how much he played and how skilled and physical he was. He was a beast. It wasn’t that I didn’t respect other players, but when you see a guy play at a high level every single day no other defenseman I played against was better. It is hard to know how good a player is when you only see them a few times a year,” continued Oates. He was referring to voting for NHL awards. He said whether you are a player, a GM or member of the PHWA there will always be some sort of bias, even if you try to be impartial and do a lot of research. I agree with him, but it still makes no sense to me that in 1986 when Wayne Gretzky scored 215 points the NHLPA didn’t vote him as the most outstanding player.
  • With the draft on Friday and NHL free agency starting next Saturday, July 1st, it will be interesting to watch what the non-playoff teams in the west do to improve. Winnipeg missed the playoffs by seven points, the Kings eight, Dallas by 15, Arizona by 24, Vancouver by 25 and Colorado by 46. Which one of them to you believe has the best chance to return to the playoffs, and if they do which team comes out? There is usually at least one change, and often two, but right now there doesn’t look like an obvious choice among the eight playoff teams you’d pick to fall out of the playoffs. Dallas and Winnipeg must improve their goaltending, while LA needs to add some scoring. The Kings would be my choice to return to the postseason, and if I had to pick a team to slide out today I’d take the Flames, but that’s only because I have to pick one.
  • The Nation is throwing a FREE Nation Appreciation Night presented by West Edmonton Mall on Friday at the Pint Downtown. Get all the details on the swag bags and giveaways here. 

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • tkfisher

    Yesterday on Gregors show, a writer and draft expert for The Hockey News was saying that the Oilers will draft Foote at 22 because they need help in their D pipeline (which is the complete opposite of the weakness in forward prospects). That comment right there shows how poor The Hockey News and their staff are at keeping tabs on teams around the league. That’s embarrassing. I just don’t understand how all the other major sports have top notch coverage, media, panels, writers, etc. and then hockey seems chalked full of these sorts of people in prominent positions when there are so many knowledgeable hockey people around. When I hear some on the CBC or Sportsnet broadcasts speak it makes me cringe (Hrudey). This wouldn’t be tolerated in the NBA, or NFL. How can these clowns be counted on to discuss the sport, let alone vote on major awards.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    It’s 2017…. I’ve heard about skin irritation from equipment before, in the old days (like 1970’s I’d guess?). Technology (Equipment and Medical) has come a very long way. If Oscar Klefbom can have custom skates made, which allow him to play after a Staff infection, with complications, Hossa could play if he and the hawks wanted him to. He probably does have some skin conditioing, which may get somewhat irritated playing hockey, but I really hope the NHL looks into this very thoroughly. Direct circumvention of the cap in my opinion, and the Hawks should get punished accordingly for it. I’m not trying to be insensitive about a medical condition, but that’s a joke, IMO. The hawks should be on the hook for the salary cap penalty.

  • RJ

    For the first time in forever, there is going to zero pressure or expectations that whomever they select in the first round is
    in the NHL next season. Awesome development.

    But since they aren’t going to be rushed into the lineup, I’d rather them see who is available at 22 before a final decision is made.

    As much as I hope the current prospects have long NHL careers, there are no guarantees and the team should keep them coming. Worst case scenario is that the Oilers have solid depth on the blueline that allows them to make trades from a position of strength for once.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    If Lucic slows down in 3 years, is he suddenly going to have sore feet from being too big, not be able to play hockey anymore, and have to get an office job for the Katz empire that pays him 7 million a year? The Hossa thing is an extremely dangerous precedent.

    • Tombstone

      Lucic will average $4.3 million/yr his last three years and has a modified trade clause where he can submit a list of 10 teams that he can get traded to. Phoenix seems to be the team that constantly rebuilding so I don’t think they will mind a $6mil cap hit.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Have to agree that Hossa’s announcement seems intricately and strategically timed, given the draft in Chicago this weekend and that desire to make a splash for the hometown fans. The NHL makes the Oilers forfeit a high draft pick for signing a GM that was already fired by another team… but will they look the other way when faced with underhanded manipulations and dealings? I guess time will tell…

  • Nanook

    Heres my issue. With the way things are going in todays sports, where is the penalty to the team for allowing Hossa to play like this for this long to a point where he can no longer play safely. If there were extreme side effects he should have been pulled by the team long ago to prevent the loss of his health. Its no different than a concusion imo. It is screwy and at some point the team needs to answer for some of this. At the very least it should have been reported to the league when it was first diagnosed so they can keep tabs on such a case. Shady indeed.

  • Rebuilding the Rebuild

    This Hossa business is garbage. Bye the sounds of it, the doctors aren’t saying he’s incapable of playing, only that they ‘support his decision’. I’m not sure how that qualifies him for LTIR.

  • Blue Bullet

    Historically, in the 16-33 range of the draft, 61% of forwards taken reach 100GP. Of those that do reach 100GP, the career average PPG is 0.47. That is the type of return Oilers fans should expect with the 22nd pick.

  • crabman

    A lot of hate on for Hossa and the hawks. I’m sure the league will look into it and may have been following this from the beginning.
    If he was getting his blood tested every two weeks as stated in the linked article there will be a paper trail that this is a condition they have been monitoring for some time now. I doubt the hawks could/would make all this up and get away with it.
    No one here has access to his medical records and treatment plan so I’m willing to give a future hall of famer and his team the benifit of a doubt. If the side effects are severe and progressive, same article said dr were concerned about longterm use of drugs, then if Hossa said he has had enough that’s it.
    It isn’t a matter of if he can play through it but if he should be made to play through it. If the condition didn’t exist at the time of signing I don’t think the team will or should be punished for the players condition. Timeing and optics might not be great but to suggest player of Hossa’s stature and a storied franchise like Chicago are just lying is pretty low.
    My 2 cents

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    Vegas really shot themselves in the foot. Don’t they want to be a good team? I don’t think they maxed the value of picks they could have gotten either