As the NHL and NHLPA continue to try and hash out a plan for the upcoming season, money has become a big part of the conversation. That should surprise absolutely no one considering the current financial situation and the fact that the majority of the teams in the league won’t be able to sell tickets to fans for most of the season.
As soon as money becomes a story, I get a little worried and I suspect I’m not the only hockey fan who feels that way. If anything can derail the 2020/21 season or significantly push back it’s start date, it’s money.
I get the sense that neither the league nor the players are being unnecessarily greedy at this point. I don’t think we’ll see this get to the point that it did in Major League Baseball, which went through a rather ugly and very public fight between the league and PA before they began their 2020 season. I really don’t see the NHL getting to that point, this should get resolved peacefully.
Here’s what we know right now: the NHLPA already agreed to a 10% salary deferral in the recent six-year CBA extension that was signed back in July, before the NHL began the 2019/20 playoffs. Now, Larry Brooks of the NY Post is reporting that the league is asking the players to defer an additional 13% of their salaries.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote in his recent blog that the players agreed to collect 72% of their salaries for the upcoming season once you consider the deferral and escrow. Friedman says that they believed that was going to be the deal whether or not they played a full season. Basically, the players never believed that pro-rated salaries would become a reality. Friedman added that with full arenas far from a reality, owners want pro-rated salaries.
Friedman went on to say in his blog that if the players agreed to an additional deferral, it would bring their gross pay for 20/21 to around 62%. I’m not doing this math, I’m just relaying the info from multiple sources here. He also added that the number reported by Brooks was just an idea and not an official proposal. He also stated that the reaction from the player’s side was pretty mixed. You can read his full blog HERE.
Figuring out how much money the players are going to get is a massive hurdle and the reason I spent so much time on it in this week’s blog is that I personally feel that once they get this issue resolved, the rest of the return to play plan will start to come together rather quickly. Pierre LeBrun tweeted this just two days ago:
So, if there's early January puck drop, that means getting this done by the end of the month. As we saw in the spring/summer, these things can drag out, but the hope is that if there's an agreement it's within the next 7-10 days. But we'll see if talks hit a snag or not ($$).
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 17, 2020
He eludes to the fact that if there are no major issues when solving the money side of things, we could get an agreement sooner rather than later.
Enough about that, let’s get to some of the fun rumours. Here are some I’m keeping an eye on:
- There are rumours that the Lightning will need to add a significant sweetener to convince a team to take Tyler Johnson and his $5 million cap hit. Honestly, I can’t believe a deal hasn’t be made yet. Johnson is a good player and $5 million isn’t exactly an atrocious cap hit for a 30-year-old centre that consistently produces over half a point per game. If some team can get a first-round pick and Johnson for nothing, that might be the deal of the offseason.
- Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic (New York) recently wrote a piece about the Rangers’ future plans and said that both Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich and Anthony DeAngelo could be used as trade chips next season at the trade deadline. I’ve always liked Buchnevich and think he would be a really good fit in Edmonton. If the Oilers need scoring help at the deadline, that’s a name to remember.
- There have been rumours going around that the Islanders may look to move a winger before the start of the season so that they can get Matt Barzal signed. Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle are two names that sound like candidates to be moved. Whenever a former Oiler is mentioned in trade talk, people want to know if a reunion is possible but in the case of Eberle, I just don’t see it working. His cap hit is too high and the Oilers seem to be set with the forwards they currently have.
- There were some reports that Ducks GM Bob Murray might make a trade to become cap compliant for the start of the season, but that doesn’t make sense. Yes, they’re about $900k over the cap right now but they have a full 23 man roster so all they have to do is send down a player on opening day and they’ll not only be cap compliant, but they’ll get close to full usage out of Ryan Kesler’s LTIR space.