Last Word on Hockey welcomes you back to our NHL Rumours series. The NHL is beginning to get back into the swing of things, and we’re here to keep you informed on everything being discussed. Not only are different teams looking at different aspects of their future, but the league is also looking at its future as a business. Today, we look at the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators. We’ll also take a look at how the NHL is moving forward with negotiations surrounding its television rights.
Rumour: In an opinion piece for The Athletic, Jonathan Willis names Carl Soderberg as a possible free-agent addition for the Oil this summer.
The more I look at the Oilers and free agency, the more I wonder about Carl Soderberg as a fit.https://t.co/eSc2Eyiv9x
(If you’re on the fence about The Athletic, there’s a 30-day trial offer here, too.)
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) June 16, 2020
Analysis: For someone who didn’t make his NHL debut until he was age 27, Soderberg’s carved out quite a nice little career for himself. With four 40-point seasons under his belt, the Swede’s shown that he’s a capable utility player at the NHL level. He’s getting up there in age, though, as he’ll be 35 next season. However, the Oilers present themselves as an extremely logical fit.
While Soderberg’s offensive numbers were down with the Arizona Coyotes last year, that team didn’t play a particularly offensively-inclined system. Moreover, the Oilers have offence down the middle. Edmonton needs a defensively responsible utility player to centre a depth third line, and Soderberg’s made his living out of that the past few seasons.
He’s not all defence, so Oilers fans should still expect 30+ points out of Soderberg should he end up in Alberta. But still, he provides grounding and two-way responsibility that would help put Edmonton into true contention.
Rumour: While projecting the Preds’ protected lists for the 2021 Expansion Draft, The Athletic’s Adam Vingan notes that they could lose Mattias Ekholm to Seattle.
Who could the Predators lose to Seattle in the 2021 expansion draft if they protect eight skaters? Seven forwards and three defensemen?
I gave it a shot. https://t.co/7rwoBWGN0z
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) June 17, 2020
Analysis: What an unfortunate way it would be to end in Smashville for Ekholm.
Yet as the old saying goes: “hockey is a business too.” Ekholm’s been a core piece of the Preds ever since breaking into the league full-time in 2013. He’s logged over 23 minutes of ice time a night each of the past four seasons. Four 30-point campaigns. All from one of the better two-way defensive forces in the league. He’s played all of his 538 NHL games in Nashville, a team that would sorely miss him.
But as this all goes for Seattle, it’s an extremely intriguing proposition. Ekholm would likely slot in as their no. 2 or even no. 1 defenceman, a role he’s never held before. However, he’s shown that he can play big minutes with no issue. For Seattle, being able to snag such a natural leader that’s also a two-way responsible player would be a huge acquisition. The Pacific Northwest faithful hope that Nashville lets him go.
NHL Television Rights
Rumour: Via a report in the Sports Business Journal, the NHL won’t be discussing a new television deal until at least 2021. (subscription required)
The NHL has put its media rights negotiations on hold until at least the end of the year, multiple sources tell @Ourand_SBJ and colleague Terry Lefton https://t.co/B3pBdeOePU
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) June 15, 2020
Analysis: Many had expected some talk to come out of the NHL regarding their current TV deal with NBC. It expires at the end of the 2020-21 season, but due to the seismic shifts caused by COVID-19, it’ll be a while before we learn the NHL’s plans.
The NHL’s national television rights have been with NBC since the fabled 2004-05 lockout. It would be quite the change of pace to depart from NBC, but there are many networks with cash to throw right now. ESPN, FOX, and CBS have all lost big names lately and may take interest in taking the NHL’s national rights on.
It’s also not guaranteed that the NHL sticks to just one network, as a split agreement could be arranged. Regardless, this is a crucial business deal for the league. If they play their cards right, it could end up spurring them to unparalleled levels of financial health.
That does it for this edition of NHL rumours please keep your eye out for another edition in the next day or two.
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