According to a couple of different reports on Twitter, the NHL and its players will see changes to their current contracts as a means of getting back on the ice later on in the summer. Rather than the usual June 30th expiration, contracts set to wrap up this summer will now be extended until late October as a means of keeping this summer hockey dream alive.
NHL player contracts set to expire June 30 will now expire Oct. 30 per agreement with PA, Post has learned. Told this is in response to Visa issues and is not part of a larger agreement.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) June 22, 2020
When it comes to the NHL’s return to play plan that will (hopefully) see 24 teams battle for the Stanley Cup later on in the summer, there are still plenty of details that will need to be addressed before they’re able to get going. As of this afternoon, we still don’t know where the hub cities will be, when players will start making their way back into their respective cities, how travel will work, what their family lives will look like, and a laundry list of other items that still need to be checked off the to-do list, but we now have an idea on what will happen with expiring contracts. According to both Larry Brooks and Elliotte Friedman, contracts that would normally expire on June 30th will now be extended to the end of October (Brooks said October 30th, Friedman had October 31st) as a means of making sure that players would be able to get the required work visas needed in order to play. Pushing the contracts back to October should allow the league enough rope to hopefully finish up the season while also allowing enough time for a brief offseason. Will it work? I have no idea — I’m no scientist.
From an Edmonton Oilers perspective, this change will affect a handful of players that are set to become unrestricted free agents, including Mike Smith, Riley Sheahan, Tyler Ennis, Mike Green, and Markus Granlund. On the restricted free agent side, Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou, and Matt Benning will all need new deals for whenever the 2020-21 season starts and it will be interesting to see what the league and players association come up with in terms of a date for when that free agency period will actually begin. Around these parts, it’s going to be weird to sail through July 1st without having the usual free agency spectacle that normally goes on around here, but we’re living in strange days that require creative solutions. As for whether or not today’s contract news is another step towards actually getting back on the ice remains to be seen, but what we do have is another item that seems to be getting checked off the NHL’s to-do list ahead of their hopeful relaunch this summer.
Now, about those pesky hub city locations…