In his latest 30 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet dishes on the latest information coming out of the recent General Manager meetings in Boca Raton. It’s always a great read from one of the most connected men in hockey.
- While the GMs have decided not to change the offside rule, they are looking at instituting a time limit on reviews to prevent five-plus minute delays to the game. The MLB recently changed their rules around reviews, giving managers just :30 to call for a review and umpires have two minutes to make the final decision. Friedman suggests the NHL would look at something similar. One change that has been agreed upon is the referees will no longer discuss/ explain the call with both coaches after announcing the ruling. That should dramatically cut down on the time delays.
- The salary cap is expected to increase by several million dollars, potentially as high as around $76MM. That would be a $3MM increase from this season. Of course, that would require the Players Association to use their cap escalator, which increases both the cap and their escrow payments. Friedman cites some anonymous sources as not being sure that the PA would do that, however they usually do approve it in the end. Whether or not the players choose to increase the cap will greatly affect the contracts thrown around in July. It’s also important to remember that last March the cap was expected to be $74MM, but only reached $73MM, so it’s not a sure-thing just yet.
- There is some concern among play0ff-bound teams that concussion protocols will be abused in the post-season. After Mike Smith was removed from the third period of a game last month, he wondered what is stopping a fourth-liner from running a star goaltender to gain an advantage against a cold goaltender. Friedman doesn’t believe the NHL will make changes to the rule, as it would reflect negatively on them to “move backwards” on concussion awareness; however he does believe this will be something to watch for in the playoffs.
- Some were surprised at the high price that Ottawa gave up to acquire Alex Burrows at the trade deadline, but Friedman sheds some light on why: there were eight or nine teams who made “legit offers” for Burrows. That’s a lot of interest for a player who was nearly bought out last summer, but also demonstrates the high cost of veterans at the deadline. Ottawa also stepped up to offer Burrows a two-year extension, which tipped the scales in their favor.
- After his head coach ripped him apart in the media, Friedman believes the Hurricanes will look to move Eddie Lack this summer. Lack had a solid 0.917 SV% during his two seasons in Vancouver, but that number has fallen to 0.898 in Carolina. He has just 15 wins in 45 games as a member of the Hurricanes. Friedman says Lack, a happy-go-lucky person, was initially crushed by Bill Peters’ comments; he doesn’t believe the arrangement will last beyond this season.
- Finally, after some unnecessary controversy about Islanders rookie Josh Ho-Sang wearing number 66 in honor of Mario Lemieux, Friedman commented that if Wayne Gretzky’s 99 wasn’t retired league-wide, players would “be spearing each other in competition for it.” Number 99 is the only number that’s off-limits on every team, so expect a few-year-long reprieve from rookies wearing their birth year as their number. After Jesse Puljujärvi chose number 98, we likely won’t see any rookies until the 2002-birth year hits the NHL in 2020.