There’s little doubt that the NHL would prefer to resume the season and play out the remaining regular season games, but speculation still swirls that it may need to move directly into the playoffs depending on how long this “pause” lasts. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) spoke with deputy commissioner Bill Daly who made it clear that nothing has been decided yet, but that next year’s season will not be shortened even if the playoffs leak into the summer.
If the final dozen or so games are cancelled and the league decides to move directly into the playoffs it would certainly ruffle some feathers given the standings and points percentages right now, but there are other things to consider if a chunk of the season is lopped off.
Perhaps most notably (other than the drastic financial impact it might have on next year’s cap) are how a shortened season would affect trade conditions. This is probably the last thing on the minds of league officers, but fans have already started wondering about some of the deals their teams have made in the past. Below, we’ll look at a couple of those conditions that might be influenced by a loss of the remaining games.
When the Maple Leafs went out a few weeks before the trade deadline and acquired their backup goaltender, an interesting condition was attached to one of the third-round selections heading back to the Los Angeles Kings. Should the Maple Leafs make the playoffs in 2019-20 and Campbell wins six regular season games, the 2021 third would upgrade to a second-round pick.
Through six appearances for Toronto Campbell already had three wins, and was likely going to get a few more opportunities down the stretch. If the season ends without any more regular season games, the Kings will have to hope that Toronto decides to re-sign Kyle Clifford if they want that second rounder.
The Hurricanes went out at the deadline and bought, acquiring three impact players in the process. While Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei immediately made an impact, Vatanen suffered a setback in his recovery and looked like he might miss the majority of Carolina’s remaining games. The fact that he hadn’t played for them yet made it look like the conditions on a 2020 fourth-round pick wouldn’t be met, but this break actually may result in a positive for the New Jersey Devils (at least in this case).
There are two games played thresholds involved in the deal for Vatanen at five and 12, which suddenly don’t seem that difficult to meet if the pause allows him to recover. Of course that would require the regular season games to be played in this scenario.
This is the one you’ve been waiting for, given how ridiculous the condition seemed at the time of the trade. To refresh your memory, the Flames will receive a 2020 third-round selection if Neal scores 21 goals and outscores Lucic by at least 10. Neal is currently 11 goals ahead of Lucic on the season, but has just 19 total. If those regular season games never get played, it would seem that the condition has not been met. Perhaps there is a prorated version in the fine print, but as of now the deal looks to be “one-for-one.”