TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli joins host Gino Reda to discuss an update on the NHL’s Draft Lottery, if All-Star Weekend is on the league’s radar for next season and whether or not the league’s new U.S. TV deal could have an impact on the salary cap going forward.
Update on the NHL Draft Lottery
We know this year’s NHL Draft is going to be held virtually on July 23 and 24, but is there now news on the Draft Lottery?
Seravalli: Yes, the Draft Lottery is set for June 2. Now, there are a couple of interesting wrinkles this year. One, of course, is the addition of Seattle to the Draft Lottery and they will be slotted with the third-best odds for the No. 1 overall pick. But the other question mark is what happens with the Arizona Coyotes, who are now likely to miss the playoffs and their draft pick in terms of the lottery because they forfeited that of course with the penalty with the improper testing of prospects scandal that happened last year. So, moving forward, the league plans to keep the Coyotes’ odds wherever they land in that same position. They’re not going to take those odds and redistribute them to other teams. But if the Coyotes’ pick were to come up as the winner, well, then of course the NHL would re-draw. So, something to keep in mind as we get closer. The official odds haven’t been passed out yet – not publicly – but also not to teams as well. So we’re waiting to see what those official odds are.
When could we see All-Star Weekend again?
It’s been more than two years since the NHL last had its All-Star Game and Skills Competition. When we might see it back in the fold?
Seravalli: It’s coming back for sure next season. And that’s interesting because in the last number of years in which NHL players have gone to the Olympics, there has not been an All-Star Game in that season but the league plans to bring it back and work it into its schedule much in the same way that they did in 1998 when NHL players went to Nagano and 2002 when they went to Salt Lake City. So, Olympics and potentially the All-Star Game in the same season next year.
Could the new American TV deal affect the salary cap?
The NHL’s American television deal with NBC expires at the end of this season. The new deal is said to be a partnership between ESPN and TNT. What are you hearing about that and what impact could it have on the league?
Seravalli: Well, that’s the $600-plus million question. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is clearly satisfied in announcing these new rights deals with Turner Sports and ESPN. The latest one coming this week as the NHL has more than doubled its previous U.S. television rights contract with NBC. So that’s a home run for the league moving forward but the question everyone wants to know is how does that impact the salary cap? And the answer to that lies in terms of how these deals are structured. Now, the NHL has kept a tight lid on how exactly they’re structured, but it seems to be pretty typical in terms of other rights deals that build as the term grows. And so in this case, what the NHL players would have needed as they work off this $1 billion-plus debt that they’re re-paying to owners would be to have that front-loaded to get as much impact immediately in terms of a salary cap. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case. But nonetheless, this is a good piece of business for the NHL moving forward as they try and get back to where they were on the revenue front before the pandemic.