NHL Teams jockey for the future on Trade Deadline Day

Another NHL trade deadline day has come and gone with the 2021 edition being relatively quiet when compared to other years. The day saw just 17 official deals made which involved 26 players and numerous draft picks. The number of trades made was the fewest since 2013 and the number of roster players moved was the fewest since 2000. However, there were several trades made in the week or two leading up to deadline day.

The reasons for fewer trades this year could be players having to quarantine themselves after moving to a new city due to the Coronavirus pandemic as well as the NHL’s flat salary cap. In addition, teams also need to keep surplus players on their rosters to expose for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft to stock the lineup of the new Seattle Kraken club.

When the official trade deadline arrived at 3 p.m. ET, just two points separated the NHL’s top six teams in the standings while the top nine clubs were only four points apart.

Arguably, the best player to be dealt was Taylor Hall, who went from the Buffalo Sabres along with fellow forward Curtis Lazar for forward Anders Bjotk and a second-round draft pick. Hall racked up 39 goals and 54 assists for 93 points in 76 while playing with the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18 and won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. However, he struggled mightily this season with the Sabres with just two goals in 37 games along with 17 assists.

Some teams preferred to remain quiet while others decided to make several moves to bolster their squads for a long playoff run.

Below is is a list of all NHL trades during the month of April, including several three-way deals

Anaheim Ducks acquire defenceman Haydn Fleury from Carolina Hurricanes for defenceman Jani Hakanpaa and a sixth-round pick in 2022 NHL Draft.

Boston Bruins acquire forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from Buffalo Sabres for forward Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in 2021 NHL Draft.

Boston Bruins acquire defenceman Mike Reilly from Ottawa Senators for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Colorado Avalanche acquire forward Carl Soderberg from Chicago Blackhawks for forward Josh Dickinson and the rights to forward Ryder Rolston.

Colorado Avalanche acquire goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the San Jose Sharks for defenceman Greg Pateryn and a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Colorado Avalanche acquire forward Patrik Nemeth from the Detroit Red Wings for a fourth-round selection in 2022 NHL Draft.

Florida Panthers acquire defenceman Brandon Montour from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Chicago Blackhawks acquire forward Adam Gaudette from Vancouver Canucks for forward Matthew Highmore.

Chicago Blackhawks acquire forwards Brett Connolly and Henrik Borgstrom, defenseman Riley Stillman and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick from the Florida Panthers for defenceman Lucas Carlsson and forward Lucas Wallmark.

Chicago Blackhawks acquire forward Vinnie Hinostroza from the Florida Panthers for forward Brad Morrison.

Edmonton Oilers acquire defenceman Dmitry Kulikov from New Jersey Devils for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022 NHL Draft.

Florida Panthers acquire forward Sam Bennett and a 2022 sixth-round draft pick from Calgary Flames for forward Emil Heineman and a 2022 second-round draft pick.

Montreal Canadiens acquire defenceman Erik Gustafsson from Philadelphia Flyers for a 2022 seventh-round draft pick.

Montreal Canadiens acquire defenceman Jon Merrill from the Detroit Red Wings for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and forward Hayden Verbeek.

Nashville Predators acquire defenceman Erik Gudbranson from Ottawa Senators for defenceman Brandon Fortunato and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick.

New Jersey Devils acquire defenceman Jonas Siegenthaler from the Washington Capitals for a conditional third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

New York Islanders acquire defenceman Braydon Coburn from the Ottawa Senators for a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

New York Islanders acquire forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils for forwards A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquire forward Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings for conditional draft picks in 2022 and 2023.

San Jose Sharks acquire forward Alexander Barabanov from Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Antti Suomela.

Tampa Bay Lightning acquire defenceman Fredrik Claesson from San Jose Sharks for the rights to goaltender Magnus Chrona.

Tampa Bay Lightning acquire defenceman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets, as part of a three-team trade with the Detroit Red Wings, in exchange for the Lightning’s first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire defenceman Ben Hutton from Anaheim Ducks for a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire goalie David Rittich from the Calgary Flames for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire forward Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets and forward Stefan Noesen from the San Jose Sharks for a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 Draft going to Columbus and a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft going to San Jose.

Toronto Maple Leafs acquire forward Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2022 conditional seventh round pick in the NHL Draft.

Vancouver Canucks acquire defenceman Madison Bowey and a fifth-round pick in 2021 NHL Draft from Chicago Blackhawks for a fourth-round pick in 2021 Draft.

Vegas Golden Knights acquire forward Mattias Janmark, defenceman Nick DeSimone and a fifth-round pick in 2022 NHL Draft from Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks for a second-round pick in the 2021 Draft and a third-round pick in the 2022 Draft. San Jose receives a fifth-round pick in the 2022 Draft.

Washington Capitals acquire forward Michael Raffl from Philadelphia Flyers for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick.

Washington Capitals acquire forward Anthony Mantha from Detroit Red Wings for forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick

Winnipeg Jets acquire defenceman Jordie Benn from Vancouver Canucks for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.

Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov adjusting well to the NHL

Although he’s not an inexperienced teenager, 23-year-old Kirill Kaprizov of Russia is still turning heads with his superb play in the NHL in his rookie campaign. The young winger was drafted in the fifth round with the 135th pick overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2015 despite being just 5-feet-9-inches tall. However, at a solid 200 lbs, he’s enjoying a fine season with 10 goals and 25 points after 29 games and is a front-runner for the 2020-21 Calder Trophy.

Kaprizov hasn’t been overwhelmed in his own end of the ice either as he possessed a plus-6 rating and had chipped in with two power-play goals, two game-winners and an overtime winner. He’s been impressive in even-strength situations while outscoring some of the league’s biggest stars while playing 5-on-5. The creative Kaprizov is considered by many Wild fans to be the team’s most exciting player since Marian Gaborik.

While he may not be the speediest skater, Kaprizov has plenty of hockey sense and a tremendous vision for finding open teammates. However, it took him several games to find linemates which were on the same wavelength as him. He then found himself playing with Mats Zuccarello of Norway on the top line and the two have provided the chemistry that head coach Dean Evason was looking for.

Zuccarello didn’t make his season debut until Feb. 16 due to injury but the team has greatly improved since he returned as the fellow winger has notched five goals and 20 points in his first 18 games. Zuccarello soon realized that while Kaprizov may be playing just his first season in the NHL, his experience in the KHL with CSKA Moscow and other teams has greatly paid off. In fact, the Russian racked up 113 goals and 230 points in 293 games while playing in his homeland for the past seven years.

He won a gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea as Russia’s youngest player as well as a bronze at the 2019 World Championships while winning a silver medal at the 2016 World Junior Championships and a bronze at the same junior event the next year. He played in five KHL All-Star Games and won the league’s Gagarin Cup championship in 2018-19. Kaprizov tallied 31 points in 47 KHL playoff games and posted 26 points in 22 junior games with Russia and has 19 points in his first 23 outings with the senior side.

Kaprizov was chosen first overall in the KHL junior draft by Metallurg Novokuznetsk before being drafted by the Wild a year later. He signed a three-year deal with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in 2015 and was traded to Salavat Yulaev Ufa a year later. He then joined CSKA Moscow in 2017 and helped the club reach the Gagarin Cup finals in 2018 and 2019. Kaprizov netted a career-best 33 goals, 29 helpers and 62 points in 2019-20 in just 57 games and led the league in goals for his second straight season.

He became the youngest player in KHL history to score 100 goals in October, 2019 when he was

22-years and 172-days of age. He inked a two-year, entry-level contract with Minnesota in July, 2020. Kaprizov then debuted with the team on Jan. 14, 2021 and notched three points against the Los Angeles Kings including the overtime winner in a 4-3 triumph. This feat saw him become the first NHL player to tally three points and an overtime marker in his first league outing and the third to score an overtime winner in his debut.

Kaprizov has had no problem adjusting to the NHL and his low centre of gravity has enabled him to become quite durable whenever the going gets tough on the ice. He has the ability do bounce off of physically bigger players without losing a stride and is already considered to be one of the league’s best playmakers this season. The Wild still have a long way to go to clinch a top-four playoff spot though as they sat in third place in the West Division on March, 22nd with 37 points from 29 games. They were five points ahead of the fifth-place Los Angeles Kings with 27 regular-season games remaining in the schedule.

Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane proving he’s still able

Patrick Kane’s no spring chicken when it comes to playing hockey as the 32-year-old veteran forward was originally drafted first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007. The native of Buffalo, New York tallied his 400th career regular-season goal in early March at home against the Detroit Red Wings in a 7-2 triumph. The goal meant he became the ninth American-born player to reach the plateau and the 100th overall.

Kane is enjoying one of his finest seasons as he had racked up 11 goals and 27 assists after 26 games for 38 points. That ranked him second in league scoring behind Connor McDavid’s 43 points and second to McDavid’s 38 assists. Kane also had an impressive plus-8 rating. He’s now in his 14th season with the team and will reach the 1,000 regular-season game mark the next time he steps on the ice.

After 999 outings he had posted 400 goals and 660 assists for 1,060 points with a plus-77 rating. This included 63 game-winners and 110 power-play markers. Incredibly though, he has yet to score a shorthanded goal. When he does reach his 1,000th  game he’ll become the first player drafted in 2007 to do so.

When it comes to the playoffs, Kane has helped Chicago win three Stanley Cups in 2009-10, 2012-13 and 2014-15. He’s chipped in with 52 goals and 80 assists for 132 points in 126 postseason contests and has five overtime winners and a team-record 11 game-winners overall. His most famous came against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009/10 when his goal at 4:06 of overtime in game six gave Chicago the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years.

That goal also saw Kane become the youngest NHL player to score a Stanley-Cup-winning overtime marker. He also won the 2012/13 Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP when he captured his second Stanley Cup. He then assisted on the game winner for his third championship in 2014-15.

His fast start to the current season is his best since 2015-16 when he posted 35 points in 23 games. He went on to capture the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, the Ted Lindsay Award for being the best player as voted by his peers, the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring and was named to the First All-Star Team.

The 5-foot-10-inch Kane’s play has given the Hawks a realistic chance of making the playoffs even though they’re playing with eight rookies including goaltender Kevin Lankinen. The team is also playing without its top-two centres in Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach. Kane has more or less carried the team on his back lately and might need to keep it up though if they’re going to lock up a playoff spot. He hasn’t exactly been a one-man team this season but he’s been close to it. If the team does make the postseason, Kane should certainly get some consideration for the Hart Trophy once again.

His NHL career definitely started out on the right foot as Kane won the rookie of the year award for 2007/08 when he netted 21 goals and 51 assists and made the All-Rookie Team. His 2015/16 campaign saw him become the first American-born player to win hoist the Hart Trophy and the first to lead the league in scoring when he posted 46 goals and 60 helpers. He also recorded a 26-game scoring streak that season which was the longest since 1992/93. This consisted of 16 goals and 24 assists to snap the previous club record of 21 games which was by Bobby Hull two decades earlier.

The Blackhawks didn’t really take much of a gamble when drafting taking Kane first overall as he was the Canadian Hockey League’s leading scorer and rookie of the year in 2006/07 with 62 goals and 145 points 58 outings with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He’s lived up to his potential in the NHL and international competition with numerous individual and team honours and nobody should be surprised if he adds some more silverware to the trophy cabinet before he hangs up his skates.

Sidney Crosby finally reaches 1,000-game mark

For many hockey fans it may seem like Sidney Crosby has been around forever. Therefore it comes as a bit of a surprise to that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain didn’t reach the 1,000 regular-season game milestone until Feb. 20, 2021.  After an emotional pre-game ceremony before the historic game, Crosby then went out and earned a pair of assists in a 3-2 home victory over the New York Islanders.

With Crosby being drafted first overall from Rimouski Oceanic in the 2005 NHL Draft it seems like he should have hit the 1,000-game plateau quite some time ago. This would have been the case had he not endured three injury-plagued seasons from 2010-11 to 2012-13 in which he missed a total of 113 games. Most of the absences were due to problems with concussions and he also missed 29 games in 2007-08 and another 28 last season.

The native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia is now 33 years old and has been one of the most successful players in the history of the game. After winning numerous accolades in minor and junior hockey he’s continued that same tradition in the NHL. Crosby has set many Penguins’ club records and NHL milestones and has a room full of silverware to show for it.

So far in the big league alone, Crosby has racked up a berth on the NHL All-Rookie Team and has played in eight All-Star Games when he’s been healthy. He’s led the league in scoring on two occasions to earn the Art Ross Trophy and has also taken home a pair of Hart Memorial Trophies as the most valuable player to his team in the league. A trio of Ted Lindsay Awards have been won for being the most valuable player in the league as voted by his fellow players.

Crosby has been named to the season-ending NHL First All-Star Team four times and to the NHL Second All-Star Team four times. He’s won three Stanley Cups and twice led the league in goals to win the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. We can also add on a pair of Conn Smythe Trophies for being the most valuable player in the playoffs and two Mark Messier Leadership Awards.

When it comes to international hockey, Crosby has also shone on the world stage by winning a World Junior Gold Medal, a World Championship Leading Scorer award and being named the best forward at a World Championship and to the tournament’s All-Star Team. He’s also led Canada to a pair of Winter Olympic Gold Medals as well as a World Championship Gold Medal and a World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal. In addition led the World Cup of Hockey in scoring in 2016 and was named the event’s Most Valuable Player.

There isn’t much Crosby hasn’t accomplished throughout his life with a pair of ice skates attached to his feet and with six goals and 15 points in 16 games this season there’s no reason to believe he’s in the twilight of his career. After 1,000 regular-season outings, the centre had accumulated 468 goals and 810 assists for 1,278 points. He had a +176 rating with 66 game-winning goals and another 142 on the power-play. Crosby has also chipped in with 68 goals and 121 helpers for 189 points in 168 postseason contests with a +18 rating.

But for all Crosby has achieved in the NHL, there have been rumours that the Penguins have recently had thoughts of trading. Of course, if Wayne Gretzky was traded during his days as the NHL’s all-time leading scorer then anything’s possible. With the team hiring Ron Hextall as its new general manager and Brian Burke as the president of hockey operations, Crosby has been aware of the rumours swirling around.

He’s signed until the end of the 2024-25 season and currently ranks second on the club’s all-time scoring list behind Mario Lemieux but  Crosby is the first to play 1,000 games with the team. He admitted that dealing with trade rumours is something new to him but told the media he hopes to spend the rest of his playing days in Pittsburgh. He claimed the rumours are out of his control though and what happens during the remainder of his career may not be entirely up to him either. But no matter where Crosby ends his career, he’ll always be regarded as a hockey hero in both Pittsburgh and Canada.

Good news, bad news for NHL early in 2020-21

When the 2020-21 NHL faced off back in January, fans knew they’d be in for over 100 days of consecutive hockey games even though the season was reduced to a 56-game intra-division schedule. Hockey isn’t the only sport in action during the Covid-19 pandemic though as the NBA and NFL have been playing and European soccer games are being broadcast to North America on a regular basis, not to mention boxing and the UFC.

With all the competition for TV viewers it’s a bit surprising to many experts that fans have been tuning into NHL contests in record numbers in North America in both French and English. When the league dropped the puck on January 13th, the NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) in America kicked off with a bang by broadcasting a triple header.

The first game featured the Philadelphia Flyers vs the Pittsburgh Penguins at 5:30 p.m. ET and it averaged 972,000 viewers, making it the most-watched regular-season encounter in the history of the network. The second contest saw the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning raise their banner to the roof before taking on the Chicago Blackhawks with the Colorado Avalanche hosting the St. Louis Blues in the night’s finale.

The three midweek games combined for an average of 774,000 viewers to make it NBCSN’s most-watched multi-game opening evening. Meanwhile, up in Canada on opening night, the Montreal Canadiens visited the Toronto Maple Leafs with the broadcast averaging 2.1 million viewers on the Sportsnet platform. This made it the network’s most-watched regular-season NHL game and another 919,000 viewers tuned in to the TVA Sports network in the province of Quebec.

After the Leafs edged the Canadiens in overtime, the Edmonton Oilers took on the Vancouver Canucks out west and pulled in an average of 1.1 million viewers for Sportsnet. The two back-to-back games have been the most-watched doubleheader in regular-season history for the network. Of course, in today’s technologically-advanced era, this includes viewers on television sets, mobile phones and whatever other media devices are capable of picking up hockey broadcasts these days.

Since the province of Quebec was living under an 8 pm curfew it should have been expected that viewership numbers would rise for TVA though. But in total, viewers for the league’s opening night bonanza reached just over 11.4 million, which was a 52 per cent increase from the previous season and the highest number since the 2014-15 campaign faced off.

When the first Saturday night of the season rolled around and Hockey Night in Canada made its debut, an average of 2.8 million viewers in Canada tuned into CBC, TVA and Sportsnet combined to check out the Maple Leafs clash with the Ottawa Senators and the Canadiens take on the Oilers for a 13 per cent increase over last year’s average viewership.

When the free-to-air NBC network broadcast the Penguins vs the Washington Capitals at 12 noon ET on the first Sunday of the season, the contest averaged over 1.7 million viewers in America alone. This represents a 42 per cent increase over the networks’ first broadcast last season and was the most-watched indoor NHL regular-season game on NBC in the past three years. In total, the first 11 games shown in America on the NBC platform this season pulled in an average 526,000 fans for an increase of 14 per cent over last season.

Regional network games have also seen an increase in viewers for fans of the Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues. That’s good news for the NHL, but the bad news is that the current pandemic has resulted in the postponement of several games so far. This hasn’t affected most fans luckily, since the majority of teams are playing games in empty arenas. However, a few clubs are allowing a limited number of spectators into the stands.

As of February, 7th, close to 100 NHL players have had to miss at least one game due to a positive Covid-19 test or contact tracing. When several players from the same team have had to sit out it has led to the postponement of games including those of the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and St. Louis Blues among others. In fact, over 20 games had to be rescheduled in the first month of the season.

So perhaps that’s the luck of the NHL in a nutshell. The league is off to a flying start where TV viewership is concerned, but it’s had to postpone games on a regular basis which means those fans will have to tune into something else when their favourite team is sitting out.

Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine trade rocks early NHL season

Even though the NHL is playing a reduced 56-game schedule for 2020-21 due to Covid-19, the pandemic hasn’t affected the league when it comes to blockbuster trades. The first major deal of the campaign saw centre Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round draft pick in 2022 leave the Columbus Blue Jackets and head to the Winnipeg Jets for forwards Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.

Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told the media he had been working on the trade for several days and the timing was right to pull the trigger, especially after the 22-year-old Dubois was recently benched during a game against Tampa Bay and has registered just one goal in five games this season.

Dubois made no secret that he wanted out of Columbus, but it still didn’t stop the restricted free agent from signing a new two-year contract in the offseason for a total of $10 million. Blue Jackets’ head coach John Tortorella had confirmed to the press that Dubois did indeed want to leave even though he led the club in scoring last season with 18 goals and 31 assists for 49 points in 70 games while averaging 17:56 minutes of ice time a night.

Dubois was drafted third overall by Columbus in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft while Laine was taken one spot before him by Winnipeg. Dubois left Columbus with 66 goals, 93 assists and 159 points in 239 contests with another eight goals and 11 helpers for 19 points in 26 playoff outings. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Laine racked up 140 goals and 110 assists for 250 points in 306 games for Winnipeg with eight goals goals and assists for 16 points in 24 playoff encounters. He’s also a power-play specialist with 52 of his regular-season goals coming with the man advantage.

Last season, Laine posted 28 goals and 35 assists for 63 points in 68 games. His goals total was the lowest in his four-season career but his .93 points-per-game total was his highest. Laine, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the campaign, hasn’t had much of a chance to pad his numbers this season though. He played in Winnipeg’s season-opener and has been out of action since due to an upper-body injury. However, he lit it up in that game with two goals and an assist. He’s currently in the second and final year of  his contract which sees him paid $6.75 million a year.

Columbus GM Kekalainen also stated that he would have traded up at the 2016 Draft if he had the chance at the time as the team would have certainly taken Laine if possible. As for Roslovic, the other player Columbus acquired in the trade, he was an unsigned restricted free agent and quickly inked a two-year deal with the Blue Jackets for a total of $3.8 million. The 23-year-old will be heading home as he’s a native of Columbus who tallied 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points in 71 games with Winnipeg last season.

Roslovic was chosen 25th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and had 26 goals and 41 assists for 67 points in 180 regular-season career games with five assists in his 20 playoff appearances. All three players involved expressed their excitement with the trade but it’s unclear when they’ll be able to suit up for their new teams due to corona-virus quarantine issues, visa issues and Laine’s injury.

This is the first NHL trade to include two players who were chosen in the top-five of the same NHL Draft since January, 1996. At that time, the Ottawa Senators dealt blue liner Bryan Berard, who was drafted first overall in1995, along with forward Martin Straka and goaltender Don Beaupre to the New York Islanders for rearguard Wade Redden, who was drafted second overall, and goalie Damian Rhodes.

Rule changes for 2020-21 NHL season

With the NHL scheduled to drop the puck on the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13Th, fans should be aware of several rule changes for the campaign. The 56-game season will also see temporary realignment with an all-Canadian division in place. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, several teams have had to postpone on-ice training camp activities and the Dallas Stars season-opening game has been pushed back.

The biggest rule change concerns the league’s offside rule. Starting this week, a player’s skate doesn’t have to be touching the ice at the blue line to onside. The league’s wording for rule 83.1, which deals with offside now states: “A player is considered to be onside when either of his skates are in contact with the blue line, or on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the leading edge of the blue line.”

One of the main reasons for the rule change is to cut down on coach’s challenges after goals have been scored. Last season, a total of 14 goals were disallowed after challenges due to the play being ruled offside. The new rule is aimed at creating more offense while making it easier for linesmen to detect if a player is onside or offside.

Team Rosters
Each team will still have a 23-player roster and will have to adhere to the league’s salary cap of $81.5 million. However, clubs will be allowed to carry up to six additional players on what is known as a “taxi squad.” this season. These players will be able to travel and practice with their teams when necessary. If a taxi squad player is on a two-way contract, he will be paid his minor league salary but will receive his NHL salary if activated to the team’s roster.

The purpose of taxi squads is to make it easier for teams to call up players who are needed during the pandemic as they’ll already be with the squad and quarantine won’t be required. Players from the taxi squad who are needed for that night’s game must be called up before 5 pm. With the American Hockey League (AHL) campaign not being scheduled to start until Feb. 5th this allows teams to keep top prospects on the taxi squad for the first few weeks of the NHL season.


Emergency backup goaltenders will be required for each club, which means every team is required to carry three goalies during the season. In general, this means two on the active roster and at least one on the taxi squad. Either way, each team must have three goaltenders ready to play at all of the club’s road games.

Player Contracts

Player contracts won’t be adjusted or pro-rated for a 56-game season, but 10 per cent of their pay will be deferred this season while 20 per cent will be held in escrow to help cover the league’s lack of revenue. However, player’s performance bonuses will be pro-rated for a 56-game season. For instance, if a player was due to receive an $82,000 bonus for scoring 20 goals in an 82-game schedule, the target would now be 14 goals with the bonus being reduced to $56,000.

As for the 10-game rule regarding rookies, which saw their entry-level contract kick in after playing 10 NHL games in the season. This will now be adjusted to seven games played. In addition, all player contracts which were set to expire on June 30th, 2021, will now be extended to July 27th, 2021.

Covid-19 Protocols
All coaches will be required to wear masks behind the bench this season to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Also, players are only permitted to travel from their hotel to the hockey rink with no trips to local restaurants, bars and stores being allowed. Each player will have their own hotel room and will have meals served there. All team practices will be closed to the public and must take place at an NHL-sanctioned venue.

In addition, teams have been asked to conduct virtual team meetings where possible and to practice safe physical distancing at all times. This also means team owners won’t be able to have direct contact with players, general managers and coaches, meaning no face-to-face meetings. Players have been asked to travel on their own to home games and practices and to not socialize with each other outside of the arena unless wearing a face mask and practising social distancing.

All players and staff will be tested daily for the first month of the new season and the process will then be reevaluated.

League Revenue

Since the NHL will be losing a lot of revenue in 2020-21, teams will be allowed to wear ads on player helmets this season. Fans won’t be allowed to attend games at the beginning of the season. However, it’s possible a limited number could attend games in home contests by the Dallas Stars, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The league has also sold naming rights for each of its four divisions this season. Therefore, the NHL will consist of the Scotia NHL North Division, the Honda NHL West Division, the Discover NHL Central Division and the MassMutual NHL East Division.

NHL announces 2020/21 season to officially face off on Jan. 13th

The NHL officially announced that the league will face off for the 2020/21 season on January 13th with each of the 31 clubs playing a condensed schedule of 56 games which ends on May 8th. The league and NHL Players’ Association came to an agreement and made the announcement on Dec. 20th and said the schedule and safety protocols will soon be released.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated that there are plenty of challenges ahead and the league will continue to prioritize the safety and health of all participants during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Training camps will begin on Jan. 3rd with no preseason contests being scheduled. However the seven clubs which didn’t participate in the 24-team 2019/20 postseason this summer will be allowed to open training camps on Dec. 31st.

The 31 teams will be realigned into four divisions with the top four teams in each division making the playoffs. Each division will then hold best-of-seven playoff series with the first-place team playing the fourth and the second-place team meeting the third-place side to determine a division winner. The four division winners will then play off in two semifinal series for the Stanley Cup with the teams being seeded on points and the first playing the fourth with the second playing the third. The postseason is expected to wrap up in mid-July with the 2021/22 NHL season then returning to normal by beginning in October as usual.

With the American-Canadian border still supposedly closed and quarantine rules still in place, the seven Canadian teams will make up one division with the American-based teams making up the other three. This allows all teams to play the regular season in their own country. In addition, teams will only play other squads within their own division to reduce travel. The clubs in the East, West and Central Divisions will play each other eight times with the Canadian squads in the North Division playing each other nine or 10 times each.

Each team is expected to play its home games in their own arena with no fans in attendance. This could eventually change though depending on regional rules and regulations regarding fans. In addition, if local rules prohibit teams from playing in their own home rinks, they may have to play games at a neutral site. For example, if the Vancouver Canucks don’t receive permission to play in British Columbia, the club may need to play it’s home contests elsewhere.

The East Division will consist of the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals with the Central Division being made up of the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The West Division will feature the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights while the North Division will see the Canadian teams the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets playing each other. This is the first time the NHL has featured an Canada division since the 1937/38 campaign.

NHL franchises drop in value in 2020

Like most professional sports league around the world, the NHL took it on the chin financially in 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, some of the league’s 31 clubs absorbed more of a financial loss than others. The teams that ended the year in better were those with strong local broadcasting radio and television deals.

Since fans weren’t allowed in arenas once the league placed its schedule on hold in mid-March it meant teams had to do without critical cash revenue from ticket, sponsorship, parking and concession sales. Of course, the same thing was true during the summer months when the postseason took place inside of bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.

This meant the Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t able to cash in on their long playoff run which resulted in the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship. In comparison, the previous two cup winners, the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues raked in approximately $20 million each in their postseason runs.

The NHL ended up playing 85 per cent of its scheduled 82-game regular season with fans in attendance in 2019/20 and it looks like just 56 contests will be played by each squad in 2020/21. However, the question of spectators being allowed in arenas is still up in the air.. at least for the start of the campaign, which the NHL hopes will face off in mid-January.

The financial fallout of the pandemic-plagued 2019/20 season has resulted in the average NHL franchise losing two per cent of its value compared to the previous year. The average club value, which was recently announced by Forbes magazine, has declined to $653 million. This represents the first drop in value for the average club since 2001.

Revenue for the league totalled $4.4 billion for 2019/20 which was a 14 per cent decrease from 2018/19 while operating income fell 68 per cent to just $250 million. Twenty-five per cent of the NHL’s revenue last season came from just five teams, which happen to be the five most valuable in the league.

According to Forbes, the New York Rangers top this list with a value of $1.65 billion followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs at $1.5 billion, the Montreal Canadiens at $1.34 billion, the Chicago Blackhawks at $1.085 billion and the Boston Bruins at an even $1 billion. All of these clubs enjoy profitable local broadcasting deals which in part helps make up for the league’s less-than-impressive national broadcasting contract.

The NHL’s national deals with Canadian and American broadcasters saw each club earn $20 million last season while NFL clubs were each paid $260 million per team due to the NFL’s national broadcasting deals. The Montreal Canadiens local broadcasting contracts were worth over $50 million last year with Toronto making fore than $40 million and the New York Rangers approximately $35 million.

In total, it’s estimated the league missed out over $200 million in postseason revenue by playing in bubble arenas without fans this summer and fall. In addition, the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players’ association sees the revenue split evenly at 50 per cent. However, the league planned on 2019/20 revenue to reach approximately $5.4 billion and didn’t hold enough back in escrow from players’ salaries to guarantee a 50 per cent split. This resulted in the players receiving more than 50 per cent of the revenue.

Forbes reported that nine of 31 NHL teams lost at least $10 million in operating income in 2019/20 which was an increase over the five teams that lost double-digit figures the previous season. The New York Islanders reportedly lost the most at $37.9 million even though the franchise’s value remained the same at $520 million. Hopefully things will pick up for the club though in 2021/22 when it moves to a new home arena.

The average team debt in 2020 is listed at $144 million compared to $127 million in 2019 and those losses are expected to continue in 2020/21.

The following is Forbes’ list of the NHL’s franchises, their 2020 value and operating income or loss in U.S. dollars:

  1. New York Rangers: $1.65 billion-Operating Income: $87 million
  2. Toronto Maple Leafs: $1.5 billion-Operating Income: $56.3 million
  3. Montreal Canadiens: $1.34 billion-Operating Income: $86.5 million
  4. Chicago Blackhawks: $1.085 billion-Operating Income: $45.3 million
  5. Boston Bruins: $1 billion-Operating Income: $26.8 million
  6. Los Angeles Kings: $825 million-Operating Income: $45.3 million
  7. Philadelphia Flyers: $800 million-Operating Income: $7.9 million
  8. Detroit Red Wings: $775 million-Operating Income: $31.2 million
  9. Washington Capitals: $750 million-Operating Income: $7.7 million
  10. Vancouver Canucks: $725 million-Operating Income: $2.9 million
  11. Pittsburgh Penguins: $650 million-Operating Income: $14 million
  12. Dallas Stars: $575 million-Operating Income: $4.5 million
  13. Vegas Golden Knights: $570 million-Operating Income: $13.9 million
  14. Edmonton Oilers: $550 million-Operating Income: $16.9 million
  15. New Jersey Devils: $530 million-Operating Income: $4.1 million
  16. New York Islanders: $520 million-Operating Income: -$37.9 million
  17. San Jose Sharks: $515 million-Operating Income: –$14.7 million
  18. St Louis Blues: $510 million-Operating Income: –$8.2 million
  19. Minnesota Wild: $500 million-Operating Income: –$6.2 million
  20. Calgary Flames: $480 million-Operating Income: $400,000
  21. Tampa Bay Lightning: $470 million-Operating Income: –$8.3 million
  22. Colorado Avalanche: $465 million-Operating Income: –$10 million
  23. Anaheim Ducks: $460 million-Operating Income: –$9.1 million
  24. Carolina Hurricanes: $440 million-Operating Income:–$15 million
  25. Nashville Predators: $435 million-Operating Income: –$13.4 million
  26. Ottawa Senators: $430 million-Operating Income: –$2.9 million
  27. Winnipeg Jets: $405 million-Operating Income: –$7.6 million
  28. Buffalo Sabres: $385 million-Operating Income:–$10.9 million
  29. Columbus Blue Jackets: $310 million-Operating Income: –$10.3 million
  30. Florida Panthers: $295 million-Operating Income: –$28.9 million
  31. Arizona Coyotes: $285 million-Operating Income: –$17 million



2020/21 NHL season pushed back again

While the NBA is set to tip off its 2020/21 season just before Christmas, the NHL still doesn’t have a starting date set in stone. League commissioner Gary Bettman had hoped to see the 31 teams back on the ice for the new campaign by January 1st but that isn’t going to happen. Bettman recently announced that things are progressing but a mid-January date is now more realistic.

He also stated that players’ health is the most important thing and with North America suffering through a second wave of Covid-19 cases, the league is willing to take it’s time before deciding on an official starting date. When and if the season does get underway, fans should expect a condensed schedule of 52 or 56 games. This will enable the NHL to wrap up the Stanley Cup Finals before the start of the 20201 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The league and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) have met recently and will soon have to agree to a starting date since clubs will need to hold preseason training camps and get in an exhibition game or two. In addition, the seven teams which didn’t take part in the 2019/20 postseason may be given permission to hold an earlier and longer training camp. With a mid-January start to the season, training camps would be required to start very early in the month.

Some clubs, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings,   have considered playing their home games on outdoor rinks in 2020/21. In the case of Anaheim and Los Angeles, both teams could share the Dignity Health Sports Park which is a 27,000-seat stadium used by the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS soccer. The venue is owned by the Anshutz Entertainment Group, which also owns the Kings and is located just 15 miles away from the club’s home rink, the Staples Center.

This is an option which could be further explored down the road if fans or more fans are allowed in outdoor venues compared to indoor locations. Of course, the NHLPA would have to agree to it as well as local governments. The Bruins could possibly play at Fenway Park, the home of MLB’s Boston Red Sox while the Penguins could consider using Heinz Field where the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers play or PNC Park, where MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates play.

However, as other professional sports have shown, it could be possible for a limited number of fans to attend NHL games. Several MLB baseball, MLS soccer and NFL football stadiums have allowed a certain number of spectators to view games along with boxing cards. However, government rules and regulations regarding public gatherings varies from state to state and in some cases, city to city.

On the bright side, Bettman believes the upcoming Covid-19 vaccines will mean fans should be able to return to arenas in full force for the 2021/22 season when the Seattle Kraken will join the NHL as an expansion franchise. The commissioner said the league wants to return to normal in 2021/22 with the season facing off in early October as usual.

Before this season begins though, the NHL and NHLPA need to sort out a few issues including salary deferral and escrow as well as temporarily realigning the divisions to suit the current Covid-19 travel and quarantine restrictions. This means it’s highly likely that an all-Canadian division will be created since the US-Canadian border is supposedly closed to non-essential travel.

Things could change once again though with Christmas and New Year’s approaching since these holidays could result in another spike of Covid-19 cases. However, many nations will soon begin vaccination programs and this could help combat the virus.