Ramblings: Skimming the proposed CBA; Ty Smith; Kaapo Kahkonen – July 10
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We had a lot of news drop late Wednesday and into Thursday as it pertains to the new CBA. It was reported that it has been passed to the players for an NHLPA member vote, and the CBA would be accepted by the if a simple majority votes as such.
Beyond that, there are a lot of interesting little nuggets and I want to discuss them one by one. Some have a fantasy impact while others are more to hockey in general. I lifted them from Bob McKenzie's Twitter feed.
The new CBA will run through 2025-26 assuming it's properly voted on and ratified by all parties concerned. That means we could get labour peace from 2013-2026, the longest stretch of labour peace in the NHL in my living memory.
Eventually, I want the story on why this came together so quickly. There had been a lot of sticking points over the last couple years (we'll get to one of them later), and then a global pandemic that brought the league to a screeching halt hit us. So then… they agree to a new CBA less than four months later? I don't want to say there was panic, but it does seem there was a sense of urgency to get this done. Was the pandemic just a post hoc or was it the legitimate reason why this moved along so quickly? A question I'd like to see answered by someone, anyone, in a position of authority.
The NHL play-in will count as far as points are concerned for playoff point tallies. In other words, if a team from the play-ins does get to the Cup Final, they will probably have played more games than their opponent. That helps clarifies things on our end as far as playoff pools are concerned. Start getting your strategies ready.
As a side note on this: there's a part of me that believes the NHL is doing this so they can reasonably sell the idea of the play-ins being actual "playoffs" rather than being, you know, play-ins. Technically, we're going to have to call it all the playoffs, but personally, I still won't consider any team that doesn't get to the Conference quarter-finals a playoff team. Maybe I'm just being stubborn, but que sera sera.
The cap will remain flat next year and our own Alex MacLean wrote about what this means for your teams and your leagues in his 'Capped' column yesterday. He's much better with this stuff than me, so I would go read his analysis.
This is going to make for a wild offseason, whenever that happens. For example:
- Tampa Bay will have $5.5M in cap space with Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, and Anthony Cirelli to sign. There are going to be several moves made here.
- Toronto has less than $5M in space and though they don't have big ticket signings to make, they have to fill out the bottom of the roster and Tyson Barrie is UFA. That means he walks, and a lot of kids filling the depth next season.
- Colorado will have over $21M in cap space with no big signings to make. It's guys like Burakovsky, Nieto, Jost, Nichushkin, and Graves. They could be big players in the trade/free agent market, which is a scary thought.
- St. Louis is pushed up against the cap (less than $2M in space) and have to sign Alex Pietrangelo. If they do sign him (they will), it'll probably be anywhere from $8M-$10M a season. They're going to have to make a lot of moves.
There are teams like this all across the league. Some have a ton of space, some have none. With no reprieve coming, a lot of players are going to be moved this offseason. There's no other way for teams to deal with the crunch. It's going to be the wild west.
We got some dates and the Draft is tentatively set for October 6th with the next regular season starting on December 1st. The end of the Stanley Cup Final is set for no later than October 2nd with training camps starting six weeks later. That gives teams who just got to the Stanley Cup Final six weeks to rest before getting back to the grind. In a normal year, imagine a team winning the Cup and then being back at training camp three weeks after free agency.
These, of course, are all very fluid. Back in April, they were still hoping to finish the 2019-20 regular season. We were also hoping to have NHLers in training camp by now. Things change quickly. This does, however, give us a rough idea of what we can expect if everything runs anywhere in the realm of "smooth".
Free agent interviews are now a thing of the past. Remember that teams used to be able to negotiate with players during an interview window before July 1st. That was a recent change, and the league is going back to the old way. That means teams cannot call UFAs until the actual free agency period has started. Presumably, tampering has always gone on and will always gone on, but at least now it's officially frowned upon.
I don't think this really has huge implications for anyone other than the news-breakers. Everyone else just waits for the reports on the signings. Waiting two extra days or whatever isn't a big deal.
The NHL is returning to the Olympics and that's for the next two editions (2022 and 2026). This was a wish of mine because, just once, I want to see Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid on the same team. We got Crosby/Lemieux playing together in 2005-06, which was the bridge to the NHL's past and their future (at the time). This would be kind of the same thing, and it would be really neat to see.
Those are some of the finer points of the CBA that caught my eye. There is sure to be a lot more to leak in the coming days.
Thinking of the Lindy Ruff hiring, something else came to mind: where does Ty Smith stand?
I ask this because P.K. Subban is the obvious bounce-back candidate on the blue line. If he does bounce back, he's a top candidate for power-play minutes, as are Damon Severson and Will Butcher. If we expect the Devils to be a low-scoring team – or not among the top-10 anyway – then their blue line probably needs PP exposure to have relevance in a lot of fantasy leagues. Just think of guys like Dante Fabbro or Victor Mete. Both of their teams were middle-of-the-pack scoring-wise, but both were stuffed down the depth chart for PP minutes, and so they had very middling production totals. (Fabbro was playing 19 minutes a night.) If you're not playing top PP minutes (Makar, Hughes), you need a high-scoring team (Sergachev) to have a good chance at being fantasy-relevant. New Jersey will almost certainly not be high-scoring, so does Smith get PP duties out of the gate next year?I like to think he at least has a chance, given how things went for the team last year. What's the worst that could happen, they're a lottery team again? It’s a rebuild.
Our own Prospects Report made note that the Devils management (who just had the interim tag taken off) said that Smith may spend time in the AHL next year. It seems like their plan may be if he doesn't blow the doors off at training camp, he's in the AHL to start the season. We have months to talk about this.
One prospect who also caught my eye while perusing the Prospect Report was Minnesota's goalie Kaapo Kahkonen. I didn't realize how good his AHL season was (that's why reading the Prospect Report is so invaluable): Most Outstanding Goalie and First Team All-Star. He even got a handful of games with the team.
Kahkonen turns 24 years old in August, has two AHL seasons under his belt, and his latest was superb. Our Report indicates that he could be a full-time NHLer by 2021-22. I think it may be next year. The Wild have a worse save percentage over the last two years than the Kings do, and there does seem to be a youth movement underway. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kahkonen in the NHL next year, even if it's as a 30-start backup. It would get his feet wet before Dubnyk’s contract runs out at the end of 2020-21.
I'm off for a week; a little vacation time before the madness starts in August. Take care of yourself, each other, and please wear a mask when you're in public.
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