As hinted at by reports earlier today, Vancouver is officially out as a potential hub city for the NHL postseason. Once considered a favorite along side Las Vegas, the British Columbia metropolis nevertheless ended up as an underwhelming option in the eyes of the league. The club released a statement thanking those whose efforts went into Vancouver’s hub city campaign but acknowledging that they are out of the running. This result is believed to have stemmed from the Vancouver group’s inability to have a plan in place for responding to a positive COVID-19 test that would not lead to a stoppage in play. In Vancouver’s stead, Edmonton and Toronto are expected to receive more attention while Los Angeles and Chicago still remain in the running. By all accounts, Las Vegas has already secured its spot and just one city is left to be determined.
- The University of Michigan has announced their 2020-21 recruiting class and, while all of these names have previously been revealed over the past few years, the talent involved warrants a reminder. The Wolverines are bringing in an elite group to Ann Arbor next season, headlined by a pair of potential 2020 first-round picks. Neither Thomas Bordeleau nor Brendan Brisson are guaranteed to be selected on Day One, the American forwards stand a good chance of earning a late-round selection. Fellow forward Philippe Lapointe, son of long-time NHLer Martin Lapointe, is also expected to be drafted at some point this year. Goaltender Erik Portillo has already gone through the draft process and landed at No. 67 to the Buffalo Sabres last year. The Swedish prospect may sit for a year, but will certainly start for Michigan at some point soon. Yet, what might be more exciting for Wolverine fans are not the past or present draft products, but the future. Hulking two-way defenseman Owen Power and super skilled center Kent Johnson round out the recruiting class as two of the top prospects available in the 2021 Draft. Michigan will groom them for a season before one or both very likely get the chance to bolt for the NHL in 2021-22.
- Comments made by New York Rangers superstar Artemi Panarin have brought the escrow issue back to the forefront of NHL labor relations as the league and players’ association continue to work toward a CBA extension. Panarin went so far as to say that players should not report to Phase 3 training camps without a new deal in place that corrects the current escrow crisis. The two side are indeed making progress in CBA talks and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that escrow terms may even be close to complete. Friedman notes relays that a plan is in place that would cap escrow at 20% for the 2020-21 season, but would include a one-season-only 10 per cent salary deferral, protecting owners in the short term while returning money to the players down the road. As part of the agreement though, the salary cap could remain stagnant at the current $81.5MM upper limit for the next three seasons with the potential for it to potentially go up in 2022-23.
- The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that these CBA terms could be packaged with the Return to Play Plan in a vote facing every member of the NHLPA. While recent player movement, especially out of Europe, and participation in voluntary activities would indicate that the players are on board with the proposed Return to Play plan, there is no indication of their feeling on the current escrow and salary cap issues and how that might impact the ability for both key policies to receive a majority vote.