Sidney Crosby has said that he wouldn’t mind going straight to the playoffs, but would prefer to get as many regular season games in to keep the integrity of the game. Our TSN Hockey Insiders have the latest on what some NHL general managers are suggesting should play resume, how long the league will go before making decision on the season, what to do with the draft and more.
This from Sidney Crosby. He wouldn't mind going straight to the playoffs if we get lucky enough to resume playing hockey at some point this summer. But he says "I think trying to play as many regular-season games as we can (is) better for the integrity of the game. "What are the GMs saying?"
Dreger: I can tell you that the National Hockey League is receiving proposals, literally on a daily basis, from NHL general managers and other club types around the National Hockey League. But, the general managers I'm talking to would support the idea of playing some form of a regular season before the playoffs. It doesn't have to be the balance of an 82-game schedule. I mean, timing is going to dictate that. But even a two-game regular season or a five-game regular season before the playoffs, I think most GMs would support (that).
LeBrun: And certainly people wondering how long the NHL's going to go before they make a decision on a season resumption. We know the three major junior leagues have cancelled their years. The KHL, all kinds of leagues, really. I can tell you this. For those wanting or thinking it's going to happen soon, I was told by league source today no. They are a long way away from making that call on the season. They want to try and have a season resumption and they're going to wait this out as long as they can, practically, before making that decision.
Now they have already postponed the draft. If we do see another draft, what sort of options are they looking at?
LeBrun: I spoke with Steve Mayer, he's the chief content officer and events guru with the league, and he said they're looking at three options in the present time. It's changing every day. But right now they're focused on three things. 1. And it's a longshot, having the full draft in the Montreal but at a later date if they can get the season done on time. That's not going to happen. Let's be honest. That is a longshot. No. 2. Holding a smaller scale event in Montreal. Think of '05 in Ottawa, when Sidney Crosby got drafted, it was after the 2004-05 lockout, it was a smaller event in a hotel ballroom. So that's on the table. No. 3, and Mayer admitted this is the most likely right now, given where we are with the COVID-19 crisis, is a virtual draft, where you have a war room in all of the NHL front offices as they make their pick and you do have a centralized portion where you do have some prospects and some team representatives. That's the likeliest of the three (scenarios). As for the Canadiens, the NHL has assured them that they will be getting a full normal draft in the next couple fo years. Either in 2021 or 2022. Neither one of those drafts have been awarded to anyone. So there's some possibility there.
McKenzie: The Ontario Hockey League draft is going ahead as scheduled on Saturday, April 4. That's a week this Saturday. And as usual, it's going to be online with a few other modifications. for health and safety reasons. But the undisputed No. 1 prospect for the OHL draft will not be playing in the OHL this upcoming season. Adam Fantilli, of course. Six-foot-three, 180-pound forward who is NHL draft-eligible in 2023 and is quite the player, has committed to the Chicago Steel of the USHL. He'll be playing there with his brother, Luca, this coming season. They played last season in prep hockey, after Fantilli had a stellar career in the GTHL. Fantilli is basically deferring a decision on the OHL vs. the NCAA route by a year. He's not closing the door on the OHL, he's simply going to make that decision a year from now and either come to the OHL for two years after spending one year in the USHL, or stay in the USHL for a couple of years and go off to college. He is a late birthday, so that is the 2023 NHL draft for him.
What about the Western League and the Quebec League?
McKenzie: With the Quebec League, everything is kind of on hold right now. They were supposed to hold their draft lottery this past week, it didn't happen. The reason it didn't happen is because it's a TV event. They partner with TVA in Quebec to put that on. They can't do that in a television studio right now. They don't want to lose it. They want to hold onto it if they possibly can. As for their actual draft June 6, online. We don't know all the details or if it will be for sure June 6. That's a tentative date. We do know that Tristan Luneau, a defenceman from Trois Riviere, is the undisputed No. 1 prospect for the Quebec League. In the Western Hockey League, it's much more definite. We saw Connor Bedard get exceptional status from Hockey Canada. He's going to the No. 1 overall pick at the draft on April 22, online, a little bit ahead of when they would have had it on May 7th in Red Deer. It will now be online. And the Regina Pats who won the draft lottery will be taking Bedard No. 1 overall.
Different kind of prospects every year when the KHL season is over and there's a goalie prospect turning lots of heads.
Dreger: A 21-year-old goalie by the name of Alexei Melnichuk. He had a good year in the KHL with St. Petersburg. A number of teams have talked to Melnichuk. Most recently, his agent, Dan Milstein has been in touch with at least three NHL clubs. I believe there are four (teams) mainly in the running. Others trying to push in, he'd like to make a decision by May 1. Meanwhile, we look at the interest in Artyom Zub, a 24-year-old right-shot defenceman. As I tweeted on Wednesday, it's down to two teams. The expectation is that Zub, who's got the potential to be a top-four shutdown D-man in the NHL, will sign with the Ottawa Senators.