The National Hockey League’s general managers have wrapped up their annual three-day paid vacation to Boca Raton and, as usual, very little is going to change coming out of the meeting. Which is bad news if, you know, you enjoy watching hockey and want to see it continue to grow and prosper.
The Olympics? Yeah, probably not.
Offside revisions to keep referees from needing to figure out if a player’s skate is on or off the ice? Nah, we’re good.
Want to know who’s on the exempt and available lists for the expansion draft? No, you really don’t, just like you have no interest in salary information.
Not being able to call a timeout after an icing? Yeah, we can do that. But that’s literally the only change that’s going to the competition committee.
So, where do we start?
The Annual Salary Cap Question
Bill Daly says the NHL's salary cap is projected to be $75.5M-$76M next season, but adds it will depend on inflator negotiations with NHLPA.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 8, 2017
This year’s cap is at $73 million, so it’s a minor increase (and almost entirely due to the presence of Vegas in the league next year, which increases revenues accordingly). Plenty of teams are already tight against the cap, so there should be a good opportunity for Ron Francis to go bargain shopping again and get a good player to help out some cap-strapped team this summer.
The inflator, as it always does, will pit this year’s free agents against the rank and file who already have contracts and detest the 15% escrow that comes off the top of their contract to ensure the correct split of revenue. In the past, the rank and file has won out every year. We’ll see what happens this summer.
Bye Week Shuffle
The NHL is looking at changing bye week to having 15 teams off at one time, 16 the next. First two games would be vs. teams coming off bye.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 8, 2017
Well, this is a minor change that will have a major impact. The NHL is making plans to make the bye weeks more equitable, after a multitude of complaints this season that teams coming off a bye week were at a considerable disadvantage. How this plays with the Olympics being next year is up in the air, but if the NHL does go to the Olympics the bye weeks will remain regardless of the league’s shutting down during the tournament.
The Olympic Shuffle
The NHL faces a deadline in the next couple of months to tell the IIHF whether or not it will release its players for the 2018 Olympics. And if they don’t, Allan Walsh, what are the players (Alex Ovechkin, et al.) going to do?
Oh. Well, this should be lovely.
The Offside Review Rule Is Actually Good
Everyone who goes to hockey games hoping to see a ten-minute review of a potentially offside play thirty seconds before a goal is scored, good news!
No, You Really Don’t Want To Know Who’s On The Expansion Draft List. Also, You Are Getting Sleepy
For those who have asked, here's an NHL spokesperson's statement on the public release of teams' protected lists for the expansion draft. pic.twitter.com/TiChf2lsDV— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) March 8, 2017
God forbid those poor players’ egos be dented by knowing that their team is taking part in a process that literally every other team in the league is undertaking. No one cares, certainly not you, NHL Fan, right? Right?
Oh, you’ll be just fine when you start watching training camp and notice that Joakim Nordstrom is nowhere to be found. You’ll still watch. Nothing to see here, move along.
Sweden to AHL: Drop Dead
Swedish officials had a polite but clear message for GMs today: leave their young players in Sweden to develop. They don't want them in AHL— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 8, 2017
Make Swedish Hockey Great Again.
Icing Timeouts A Thing Of The Past
One recommendation to come out of GMs meeting: Taking away the ability to call a timeout after an icing. That goes to competition committee.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 8, 2017
Hey now, a change! This is something that the AHL has been test-driving this season and with few complaints at that level, looks like it will be a reality in the NHL next season. This likely has little bearing on Bill Peters, who will continue to use his timeouts as challenges that one day really will work out you guys we promise.
So, in summary from this week’s GM meetings: poop emoji.
The NHL: It’s Faaaaaaaaaan-tastic!