The past few days have been quite the event in NHL news, leading up to the Seattle Expansion Draft on Wednesday and the NHL Entry Draft on Friday. But while the majority of news and notes have had to do with the Kraken, including their reported signing of goalie Chris Driedger earlier today, the Entry Draft hasn’t been lost in the shuffle. TSN’s Bob McKenzie, in his final draft piece before the event on Friday, states that in his polling of NHL scouts, University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power has pulled away from the rest of the field and is the consensus No. 1 overall choice ahead of the draft. This comes after reports that the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first pick, had yet to interview Power and had significant interest in Swedish forward William Eklund instead. But based on McKenzie’s polling, it seems as though Buffalo will still be selecting Power with that first choice. What remains to be seen is if the Sabres acquire an additional top-10 draft choice ahead of Friday, allowing them to potentially select both Power and Eklund. What’s for sure is that neither will join the team next season, as both Power and Eklund have expressed their desire to return to their respective teams for at least one more season.
- ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski notes that despite the NHL expected to leave an Olympic break in their 2021-22 schedule, their participation in the event is not yet confirmed. This builds on earlier reporting that the NHL had until July 23rd to find a resolution for the situation. However, that was based on the fact that the schedule would be final and without modification. The expectation here is that with an Olympic break built into the schedule, the NHL won’t need to add any time to the season if they are able to send their players to China in 2022. If not, the schedule can be adjusted without extending the season.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning announced in a press release today that they’ve extended their ECHL affiliation with the Orlando Solar Bears for two years. The agreement takes the two teams through the 2022-23 season and ensures a pipeline of Orlando in the ECHL and Syracuse in the AHL remains constant for the next two seasons. Orlando, previously the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has seen success in recent years after matching with the Lightning organization. The team likely appreciates having a relatively local minor league affiliate and had no desire to move elsewhere.