With almost the hockey world shuttered for the foreseeable future, a big chunk of the top stories of the week revolved around cancellations and postponements.
KHL Shuts Down: One league that was hoping to quickly resume their postseason was the KHL. Even in the aftermath of two teams withdrawing from the second round of the playoffs, the original plan was to take a week off to make changes to the six-team field and then get back underway. Instead, they’ve changed their mind and cancelled the remainder of the playoffs while announcing they won’t aware the Gagarin Cup. Now, their focus shifts to starting next season on time which is a different approach to the NHL who has basically acknowledged that the start of 2020-21 will be delayed if play resumes in the coming weeks and months.
Two Colorado Players Test Positive: Until this week, the only team with a known positive test for COVID-19 was Ottawa. That changed when Colorado announced that an unnamed player had tested positive but had since recovered. They then revealed over the weekend that a second unnamed player has tested positive and is in self-isolation. That brings the number of confirmed positive tests of NHL players to four.
CHL Cancellations: Although the CHL had cancelled their regular seasons already (with leagues having different plans regarding how to handle the variance in games played), their hope was to get the playoffs underway at a later date. That’s no longer the case as the league has cancelled the postseason as well as the annual Memorial Cup, a tournament involving the winners of each league plus the host team. It will be the first time in the 101-year history of the Memorial Cup that it won’t be awarded. There was one other notable development from junior hockey during the week as the WHL granted 14-year-old forward Connor Bedard exceptional player status, allowing him to enter the league next season, one year earlier than he normally would have been able to. It’s the first time in WHL history that they’ve given someone this designation. Bedard will be eligible for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
Zegras Turns Pro: After Kings prospect Alex Turcotte decided to forego the final three years of his college eligibility, Ducks prospect Trevor Zegras, another top-ten pick from last June, did the same. The center had a strong freshman campaign at Boston University, picking up 36 points in 33 games while also leading the World Juniors in assists with nine in five games for Team USA. Zegras will try to push for a spot on Anaheim’s roster next season but may need some time at the minor league level as well.
More Postponements: With there being no immediate end in sight to the pandemic, the NHL unsurprisingly has started to postpone some of their upcoming events. The Draft Lottery was slated to be held early next month at the conclusion of the regular season but with their plan being to resume the season later on, that being delayed was inevitable. The same could be said for the NHL Awards as those are dependent on the regular season which may not finish for a while and they too were postponed. Not surprisingly, the draft has also been put on hold with the results of the regular season and playoffs shaping the order of selection so obviously, the draft can’t be held until everything is finished. There’s a good chance that the event will be a slimmed-down version whenever it is held.