NHL Rumours: NHL Players Season Proposal, Olympic Hockey, and Buffalo Sabres

NHL Rumours

Hello and welcome to the Wednesday edition of NHL Rumours. Even though things are slow as we play the waiting game until we see when the NHL returns from suspension, we here at Last Word on Hockey will continue to bring the best analysis and news regardings the state of the current season. Today’s NHL rumours feature, the NHL Players Season Proposal, Possible Olympic Hockey, and Buffalo Sabres.

NHL Rumours

NHL Players Season Proposal

Rumour: On the latest edition of Insider Trading, Frank Seravalli says the league’s top players have been in discussions over possible ideas on what the rest of the NHL season could look like.

One possibility that has been thrown around by the players is having training camps start in early July, then play out the rest of the season with the Stanley Cup Playoffs commencing in August-September. With an in October, and the new season beginning in November. 

Analysis: This is an interesting proposal by the players. As Commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL is open to all options. This option would see the league finish the 82-game regular season and have 16 teams make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the players possibly off for a couple of months, they will need to get back in shape before playing meaningful games. If you look at the standings right now, there are a lot of teams that have not played the same amount of games. These games in July would be like pre-season games for teams firmly in playoff position.

Once the season was over at the end of July, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin in August. Then the Stanley Cup is awarded by the end of September. In this scenario, the month of October will be for the NHL Draft, free agency, and training camps. The 2020-21 season will get underway in November. Under this scenario, the 82 games schedule will be played under a condensed schedule with the Stanley Cup being awarded again in late June of 2021.

Pierre LeBrun added that this proposal has been making its way around with most players being in favour of it. The proposal has to make its way through the NHL Players’ Association and then the NHL. Seravalli adds that this proposal checks all the boxes the NHL wants. If the NHL went down this route, several owners, especially the ones down south, would not have a problem with it. Considering those owners have empty buildings in October and like to see the season start later, in this scenario, the NHL will not go up against the start of the NFL and college football.

Olympics and the NHL

Rumour: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was on TSN 1050 Radio in Toronto on Monday to discuss the state of the game. He was asked about pitching stated NHL participation in the Summer Olympics instead of the Winter Olympics. Bettman said he has only been pitching it for the last 25 years. 

Analysis: When we think of summer, we usually don’t think about hockey. Yes, there is free agency, but there is a good period of time when the sport is non-existent. With the current state of the world, there is a good chance we see hockey played in the summer this year. We know one of the big reasons why the NHL does not want to go to the Olympics it disrupts their season. It was interesting to hear the commissioner say he has been proposing this idea for the past 25 years. It makes for the NHL to play in the summer. As a matter of fact, hockey started out in the Summer Olympics.

However, the International Olympic Committee is a different story. The IOC does not like that idea, as hockey is a big draw in the winter games. Not only does it provide the most ticket sales, but the most hours of programming during the winter games. This is something the IOC is definitely not in favour of. While it is unlikely we will see hockey in the summer games, the Commissioner is still holding out hope.

Not to mention, the NHL Players’ want to go to the Olympics. Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, and others have been outspoken on this topic. Maybe the IOC needs to hear it from the players themselves. The summer is usually when they train anyway. This is a perfect time for them as well. In addition, it helps the NHL get exposure for the start of the regular season, not just the second half of the season and beyond.

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: According to a report from Miika Arponen the Buffalo Sabres are eyeing another European free agent. This year the Sabres have shown interest in Eemeli Suomi

Analysis: It seems like every year the Sabres are connected to the European free-agent market. Over the past three seasons, they signed at least one free-agent. Three years ago it was Victor Antipin from the KHL. The year after that they signed Lawrence Pilut from the Swedish Hockey League. And last season they signed Arttu Ruoutsalainen from Liiga of the Finnish pro league. This season they have their eyes on a Finnish prospect in the name of Eemli Suomi.

If the Sabres do sign this player he would be a good fit as he already players with current Sabres prospects Oskari Laaksonen and Ruotsalainen for Ilves in Liiga. Suomi was second on the team with 26 goals and third in points with 57 before the season got cancelled. The Sabres could be getting a player with very good hockey sense, with average skating ability. One thing he has shown is that can takes hits. He has a winning attitude something Sabres desperately need. Given he is 24, Suomi can only sign a one-year entry-level deal. The Sabres will most likely want to play in the AHL to get familiarity with the North American game.

That does it for the Wednesday, March 18th edition of NHL Rumours.

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