TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join host James Duthie to discuss what players will be eligible to play should the NHL resume this summer, how Canada’s 14-day quarantine law affects NHLers and whether or not the seven teams that are eliminated from Stanley Cup contention will be permitted to make trades with one another if they see fit.
Who will be eligible to play if the NHL comes back?
Now that we have a Return to Play format determined, will players that have been drafted but not yet signed their entry-level deals be allowed to potentially suit up for their respective clubs?
Dreger: Well that’s not determined at this stage. More discussion between the NHL Players' Association. Normally the deadline is June 1 for entry-level players to sign. But with contract and sliding rules the NHL and the Players’ Association will push June 1 to July 1. And there’s going to be considerable debate over this. The NHL looks at it as artificial opportunity and that should not be created based on the pause. But the Players’ Association doesn’t see it that way. If you’re the Montreal Canadiens, you would want Alex Romanov to be eligible to play in the field of 24 when the NHL resumes. So they’ll be a lot of back and forth on this and the NHLPA is firmly on the side of the players.
How does Canada’s quarantine law affect the NHL?
If players are arriving from outside of Canada, they would be subject to a 14-day self-isolation mandate. How might they navigate this?
LeBrun: Well what they have to determine is when they want to put in their 14 days. It’s interesting, you heard Canucks general manager Jim Benning talk about having the internal discussion of maybe holding camp in the U.S. for that reason. I mean, I think all the Canadian teams who are in play for the 24 are going to have to deal with this with their respective players. Take the Toronto Maple Leafs. We know that Auston Matthews and goalie Frederik Andersen have been hanging out in Arizona together during this pause. They’ve got an excellent workout routine set up there in Arizona. They’re not going to be in a huge hurry to come back to Toronto and quarantine themselves for 14 days. I think from my understanding they’re going to take their time, find out, you know, when exactly training camp is supposed to start – we don’t know that yet, it’s sometime in July – before deciding when to comeback and put in those 14 days. Kyle Dubas, the general manager of the Leafs, has been in constant dialogue with Matthews' agent Judd Moldaver over this. They’re on the same page. But the bottom line is for Leafs nation, don’t freak out, when Phase 2 – small group workouts – starts and Matthews and Andersen potentially are not there at the onset of that.
What does Lafreniere’s future hold?
While he is widely believed to be selected No. 1 overall by whichever team wins the top pick in the NHL draft lottery, could the Quebec native be bound for another level of hockey before he reaches the NHL?
McKenzie: Well it’s a good question and I think it’s fair to say that Alexis Lafreniere and all the top prospects for this year’s draft are gratified to know the draft lottery is happening on Friday, June 26. But beyond that, there’s so many unknown quantities. When will the draft be held? Is it going to be September? October? November? December? Nobody knows. When is the National Hockey League going to begin the 2020-21 season? October? November? December? Even January? We don’t know. On top of all that, where’s Alexis Lafreniere going to play this fall if the NHL season isn’t happening until January and the draft isn’t until October or November? Is the CHL going to be playing? Is the American Hockey League an option? We don’t know at this point. But one thing I can tell you – Emilie Castonguay for Alexis Lafreniere is looking at all the options on the table and that will include seeing if the European club teams are up and operating in September and October.
What are the rules for the seven teams that are out?
Now that their 2019-20 season is officially in the books, does that mean they can start making trades with one another?
LeBrun: Well I checked on that Thursday and the answer from the National Hockey League is yeah. They can start making trades if they see fit. Now, normally, teams entering the off-season like this, they want to wait closer to the draft when you have all 31 teams at play as a potential trading partner to really maximize the market. But, as a matter of fact, if for whatever reason there’s a fit among the seven teams, they can go ahead and make trades with each other.