So, this COVID stuff isn’t just going away, hey?
The recent avalanche of players entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol is alarming. We knew that the new variant could bring problems and boy, is it ever. The league is going to have to change their protocols for the time being because if things keep going on this trajectory, we might have more than just a handful of teams needing games rescheduled.
Elliotte Friedman says that pausing the schedule will be the last resort.
The policies in the league are changing and getting more strict though. Basically, things are going back closer to what they were last season when players weren’t vaccinated and they’re expected to stay that way until at least January 7th.
Of course, the COVID situation also has a large impact on the chances of NHLers competing at the Olympics.
I cannot find one insider or member of the hockey media that is optimistic about the chances of NHLers playing in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The fact that a player could have to spend three to five weeks in an isolation centre in China if they test positive and have symptoms during the event understandably has players wondering if this really is worth it.
Obviously, there are some players who would take that risk if it means they get a chance to play for their country. Some don’t want to take the chance that they’ll be away from their families for that long.
The big question for me right now is this: will the NHLPA just opt-out fully? Or will they leave it up to the individual players to decide? Friedman speculated about that in his 32 Thoughts blog and said it certainly could be the case. We could end up with some countries, like Russia, having a full roster of NHLers and some countries with a mix of NHLers and non-NHLers.
Friedman also brought up the idea of just moving the games. Have a couple of west coast NHL cities host the event and play it in North America.
If it means we get true best on best hockey, I’m all for it. However, it sounds like a bit of a stretch.
Nov 13, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot (8) gets set during a face off in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
So Ken Holland apparently has three things on his shopping list: a third-line centre, a left-handed defenseman, and a goaltender. Funny enough, that’s pretty much the exact same shopping list he had going into last year’s trade deadline. After an offseason where he had no shortage of cap space to use, Holland is still looking to fill the exact same holes in his lineup.
They’re still being connected to Ben Chariot and my guess is that I will be putting his name in this rumours blog a lot between now and the trade deadline.
The Oilers clearly need to shake things up quickly and while I understand that some think a trade is an easy way to spark the team, considering their lack of cap space, I’m not sure how they could do that. A panic trade is not necessarily the solution here.
If Smith is healthy, then I suppose they could look to move on from Mikko Koskinen and shed his $4.5m cap hit but I’m having a hard time finding a team that would be a good fit. It looks like the Oilers will be sitting with this same roster for a while.
- Friedman says that the Coyotes are gauging the market for Jakob Chychrun. The ask is massive, as it should be, but it’s clear that no one is safe on that Coyotes roster. If they decide to move Chychrun, they would get a lot considering he is a legitimate top-pairing defenseman who’s under contract for three more seasons at a cap hit of just $4.6 million.
- The Oilers should absolutely make the call on this guy. He’s worth parting with serious assets for and if the Coyotes would take back salary (Tyson Barrie or Mikko Koskinen) then the Oilers would actually save money in the move.
- Philadelphia is an interesting team to watch. On the DFO Rundown, Frank Seravalli wondered about the futures of Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, although they weren’t concrete rumours.
- What will happen with Anton Khuodbin? Well, it sounds like he’ll go play in the AHL for a bit. If the results are good, I could see a team taking a chance on him. Dallas would likely have to retain money or take back a contract. I still don’t see him as a fit on the Oilers.
- Jack Eichel could be ready to return to action by the end of January. That means the Golden Knights need to start shedding salary. Evengi Dadonov and Reilly Smith are two likely candidates to be moved.
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