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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What happens to the salary cap?

Welcome, Nation, to a fresh edition of the Monday Mailbag! We’re at the start of the third week after the NHL has suspended its season as a result of COVID-19, but we’ve still got hockey questions to talk about. Obviously, it’s a strange time right now but we still wanted to put together your questions and try to come up with whatever answers we can. As always, this feature depends on you so please send me your questions by email or Twitter for next week and I’ll try to sneak you in. Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful week and please enjoy the free learning opportunity.

May 27, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference before game one of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Trey asks – If you were to guess, when would you say is the cut off for the NHL before they finally cancel the season? I know they want to finish up 2019-20 and award the Stanley Cup but that feels less and less likely with each passing day.

Jason Gregor:

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The league has said on a few occasions they don’t want to disrupt next season, so I’d guess the playoffs would have to end by September first, give teams a month off and start the season in mid-October. You could have maximum of four preseason games, and some playoff teams likely would only play two. Teams don’t always play the same amount of preseason games. They choose how many.

If the first rounds are best of fives then you don’t need as much time so I will say playoffs has to start July 15th at the latest. So if they want a few tune-up games like Connor McDavid suggested they will likely need to be back playing by July 9th or 10th to get a few regular season/playoff warm-up games.

Robin Brownlee:

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said as late as Friday the NHL hasn’t yet reached the point where a full season can’t be played. What the cut-off date is, I don’t know. The hope is to get back in the rink by July or August, but I have my doubts that’s possible.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

I would say that if the situation doesn’t improve and they can’t get a firm plan in place by the beginning of June then they would likely just cancel the season. I’m not feeling very optimistic right now and I feel that it’s more likely that the season ends up being cancelled. But they will definitely need a plan in place by June to make sure that they can start playing games by July.

Zach Laing:

I think they’re going to try and stretch it as long as possible, but I don’t have a good feeling about the league handing out a Stanley Cup this year. It seems like things are going to get worse for a while before they start to get better.

The Nation Dan:

The league’s insistence that they don’t want to disrupt 2020-21 makes me feel like the date is closer than we think. I’m no health expert but the stats that come out of the US every day makes me think they will not be able to hold much down there for a while. So I would say my date is June 15th. The date where they would have to know that every single team has no players with the virus by to be able to do something sans fans.

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Baggedmilk:

I’d say that it’s gotta be coming up relatively soon, no? If we make it through April and into May without any real progress as a global community then I don’t know how the NHL can ever expect to resume play. That said, isn’t it wild that we’re only two and a half weeks out since sports got put on pause? March has been a decade long.

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2) Forgetit asks – What do you think the effect of the Coronavirus is going to have on the salary cap?

Jason Gregor:

Massive amount. I could see Escrow being as high as 30-40% when they return. Which essentially means the salary cap is going down a lot. The cap number might not change, but the larger the escrow is that means the cap is going down in regards to how much the owners and players make.

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Robin Brownlee:

I expect it’ll drop substantially with how badly revenue has been impacted. Even if the NHL does get back, will summer hockey sell? I’m not sure.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Not a good effect. The original rumours were that it would go up between $2.5-6 million. I would be stunned if it goes up by more than $2 million now. A lot of teams, the Oilers included will be in tough spots.

Zach Laing:

I’m not well versed enough in the cap and escrow etc, but I could see the cap staying flat for the next year or two. Maybe the league gives teams an amnesty buyout?

The Nation Dan:

This is going to impact a lot and the salary cap has to be due for little to no increase. Teams like us are going to be screaming for compliance buyouts (if some owners can even afford to/desire to)

Baggedmilk:

I think, at best, the cap will stay flat for next season but I could also see it dropping by a fair margin.

Oct 19, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Anton Slepyshev (58) controls the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during a game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

3) Yves asks – We’ve seen rumours over the past couple of weeks that the Oilers might be interested in bringing back @Anton Slepyshev and I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts are on the idea?

Jason Gregor:

I’d sign him. Big body who can skate and has a great shot. The Oilers still need some value contracts, and Slepyshev has the ability to be a bottom-six player, who if he gets hot could moonlight in the top six for a few weeks or months.

Robin Brownlee:

Mostly meh. He can be a bottom-six forward. He’s coming off a really good year with CSKA Moscow, so why not look at him again?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I like it. If he signs for under $1.5 then I think he can be a cheap bottom-six winger with the potential to slide up in the lineup. He can shoot the puck and we know he can play at an NHL level so as long as the contract isn’t ridiculous, there’s no downside to signing him.

Zach Laing:

I’m all for bringing in Slepyshev. He could be a dynamic add to the bottom-six and might be better now that he’s spent some more time developing in the KHL. He might be able to provide some upside.

The Nation Dan:

He’s a “scratch ticket” player that we have actually seen the results of already. Wasn’t a bad NHLer by any means. He’s older/better now. Why not?

Baggedmilk:

Depending on the contract they’d have to give him, I’d be interested in bringing him back because he’d add some more competition on the depth chart. Good teams have that and the Oilers need more imo.

4) Harold in Hamilton asks – I’d like to ask everyone for a positive that they’re taking from this otherwise difficult time. Is there anything in your lives that you’re feeling good about right now?

Jason Gregor:

I get to spend way more time with my family. It is great. My son is six years old and working from home, and not having to go to Oilers games gives me more time to play and talk with him and my wife. It has been a blast. It isn’t like I didn’t see them before, but now you see them all the time and thankfully we get along. Six years olds have such an amazing perspective on life and that rubs off on me. Also it is calving season at our farm right now, had the first calf on Saturday, so that gives me something else to focus on.

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And from a work perspective my show has changed into a lot of long interviews. I’ve had some great guests with some really unique stories about their lives and career. Considering there is no sports the shows have actually flown by. But I hope our lives first, and then sports, get back to normal. I know it will, I just don’t know when.

Robin Brownlee:

The big picture is pretty grim right now on so many fronts. Closer to home, I’ll never complain about spending more time with family. With all the aspects of this crisis that create stress, spending time together is not one of them.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m working less and relaxing more… I guess I’ll take that as a positive.

Zach Laing:

I’ve been feeling really good about the content we’ve been pumping out here at the network. We’ve kept things coming in a creative way and I want to thank all of you still reading.

The Nation Dan:

It’s the small things that people are trying to do to make others day. Signs in the city thanking health staff and essential staff. The stories of people getting groceries for sick people. It’s all just so inspiring. I keep trying to do little things. Running a stream of the Oilers vs the team they were supposed to play is just a simple way I am trying to give Oilers fans a smile during this time.

Baggedmilk:

The only thing I can control right now is attitude so I’m using the time to accomplish some personal goals. I’m learning to juggle, taking online piano lessons, working on some other ideas I’ve got outside of the Nation, and working with my dog so that he’s as well trained as I can possibly get him. For me, the most important part is keeping my brain busy and not just wasting days doing nothing.

5) Nathan asks – If you had to quarantine with one of the other Nation writers who would you pick and why?

Jason Gregor:

Wanye. He is witty so I’d laugh. Also, we have a lot of business ideas we’ve always wanted to discuss so we’d have the time. But most importantly, I know he likes alone time so he wouldn’t need to always do stuff together. I like having a few hours to read or do my own thing and he is the same.

Robin Brownlee:

Gregor. Life experience. Lots to talk about aside from hockey. I’m 30 years older than everybody else and I don’t need to babysit.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Anyone who listens to the Nation Podcasts knows that myself and Baggedmilk have a very strong bromance. We would do well together.

Zach Laing:

I’m going to have to go with Baggedmilk. He’s a beauty plus it would mean I’d get to hang out with Frank, too.

The Nation Dan:

I don’t know if I would wish living with me upon anyone. I’d say one of my content table companions, maybe Nick or Zach?

Baggedmilk:

Probably Yaremchuk. We’ve already got the bromance going and I think we’d have a good time.

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