Another week in the books, another week without hockey. However, that does not mean the news has to stop as we inch closer to a possible return of the NHL. There are still plenty of NHL Rumours to talk about. As always, the team at Last Word on Hockey will continue to keep fans updated on the latest NHL rumours and rumblings around the league. Today’s NHL rumours feature the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, and the NHL’s resumption plan.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: Since taking over the job from Ray Shero in January, Tom Fitzgerald has looked comfortable in the position. The biggest challenge for him was during the NHL Trade Deadline. Fitzgerald traded away key players like Andy Greene, Blake Coleman, and Sami Vatanen and got good assets in return. Not only did he acquire more draft picks for the Devils, but he was able to deepen the Devils prospect pool with players like Nolan Foote and Janne Kuokkanen. In addition, he was able to add depth to the roster with defenseman Fredrik Claesson. His resume speaks for itself since becoming the interim general manager. Ownership is wise to have kept him around and give him a shot to see this rebuild through. As the Devils continue to conduct coaching interviews, many feel Fitzgerald already has the job.
There were talks of Mike Gillis being interviewed for the position as well. But ownership feels confident in Fitzgerald to give him a full year at the position. Also, Fitzgerald is using all the assets at his disposal. Ownership feels he shares the same vision as they do and will work together not only with them but with the analytics team to get the right players for the team. One of the biggest things Fitzgerald did not do was trade away a player like Kyle Palmieri, whom the Devils must sign to a long-term extension. Fitzgerald has the ability to get the job done in New Jersey. If the Devils do not keep him around another team will come calling.
Analysis: Once the NHL season officially comes to close, St. Louis Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo will be one of the most sought after free-agents on the market. While Francis did not brush the possibility aside for the Flames to sign Pietrangelo, he did say it was going to be a long shot for it to happen. If the Flames were to land Pietrangelo, it will come with a hefty price tag to fit in a stagnant salary cap. However, the Flames have five expiring contracts which will free up the cap space for the Flames to sign a player like him. If Pietrangelo were to sign in Calgary he will make the right side of their defence stronger. Not to mention it will help the coaching staff limit the minutes of an ageing Mark Giordano.
However, the signing of Pietrangelo comes with a price. That price is the Flames could not re-sign defencemen T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort. All of whom have done their job pretty well in Calgary. Not to mention nobody really knows what Pietrangelo is looking for. Will general manager Brad Treliving want to overspend on a defenceman and limit his chances of improving the club elsewhere? Possibility, but with his track record most likely not. However, anything is possible.
NHL Resumption Plan
Rumour: Nick Cotsonika of NHL.com wrote in a column on Monday, that the NHL is looking at potentially eight or nine “hub” cities to host a dozen or so teams to restart the season.
Analysis: The NHL continues to do everything in their power to want to have a resumption to the season. They have stated multiple times they want to crown a champion this season. And the NHL feels fans want them to as they are already invested into the season. Right now there is momentum building for a 24-team playoff. With going straight to the playoffs, the will NHL scrap the rest of the regular season and expand the playoffs by eight teams. The play-in games will be used as regular-season games as the NHL gets down to 16 teams.
If the NHL were to use centralized locations, they will play multiple games per day. This will be done in front of no fans. As Cotsonika writes NHL arenas are best suited for this. These areas already have all this extra space set up in the back of their facilities. Multiple cities are in the running to be “hub cities” for the NHL, but lots of things have to be worked out including the border issue, testing, and housing of the players before anything happens.
The NHL, NHLPA, and the Return to Play Committee continue to meet daily figuring out ways to resume the season. The one thing the NHL has on its side is time. They can resume play in the summer and play until September and delay the start of next season. It will be interesting to see what direction the NHL does decide to take.
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