As alluded to earlier, the NHL and NHLPA have revealed a joint release describing several new Coronavirus safety measures in response to the growing list of players in the COVID Protocol and game postponements. Included in the list of new strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus are a “work/home quarantine”, a ban on non-virtual team meetings and social interactions, removal of the glass behind the penalty box, KN95 face masks, and even revised seating assignments in the locker room and during travel to use previous positive-test players as “buffers”. There will also be rapid testing for all U.S. teams on game days, with a similar system in the works for Canadians clubs, genome sequencing tests, greater testing availability for household members, and a greater emphasis on COVID education. Will all of this change the current COVID calamity across the league? It certainly won’t hurt.
- As rumored this off-season, the NHL is going to take a closer look at changing the structure of the NHL Draft Lottery. On Thursday’s edition of TSN’s “Insider Trading”, Pierre LeBrun reported that NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has revealed to him that a review of the lottery process is officially underway. He believes that a pitch will be made to the Board of Governors soon as to a proposed new format. The assumption of course is that the new structure will give increased odds of winning the lottery to the teams finishing at the bottom of standings. The talk this off-season centered around the Detroit Red Wings, who failed to win even one of the lottery draws for the 2020 NHL Draft and fell to fourth in a season in which they were historically bad and well below even the 30th-ranked team in the NHL. Many owners and GM’s felt that this shifted the status quo and placed importance on avoiding such poor teams missing out on top picks in the future, or at least offering them a better chance of landing those picks. Whether or not these lottery changes will be approved, and if so in time for the next entry draft, remain to be seen.
- The question still remains of when the 2021 NHL Draft will actually be held. Given the lack of opportunity for a number of prospects this season, there have been considerable talks about postponing the draft. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that NHL’s general managers plan to meet soon to discuss options for the coming draft. Dreger believes there are three possible options for the draft. The first, of course, is to leave the draft as is in June. With the CHL leagues working toward a return and the American junior and collegiate levels and European leagues well underway, there will likely have been a chance for every team to see every prospect, even if only in a limited sample size. This will put teams on an even playing field, however those drafting later in the first round may wind up benefiting from the lack of complete information allowing some superior prospects to slide. The other two possibilities involve postponing the draft. The first is to schedule the draft for the winter, either December of January, to allow teams to gather more data over the remainder of this season, in summer tournaments, and early next season. The second, and to Dreger the one likely to be most supported by GM’s, is to hold the 2021 and 2022 drafts back-to-back next summer, allowing for another complete season to replace the current campaign before teams are asked to select players. All three options hold merit and there are likely still many factors to consider over the next few months before a formal decision can be made.