The NHL is currently waiting in limbo. That uncertainty has resulted in many NHL rumours. No decision has been made on when next season will begin, if at all. One rumour postulates a potential date at which we will know more about the upcoming NHL season. We also know that the Carolina Hurricanes are hoping to have a star defender locked up long term prior to the start of next year. Finally, there is the question about the longevity of several Pittsburgh Penguins superstars. We will take a look at each scenario in this edition of NHL Rumours.
2020-21 NHL Season
Rumour: NHL insider Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet is reporting that we will know whether or not the NHL will start on January 1st by Thanksgiving in the United States.
Analysis: The NHL had initially stated that they would like to start the 2020-21 season by January 1st. While the league has not publicly stated whether that is possible or not, it grows more difficult with each passing day. With roughly a month and a half to make that happen, the NHL will have to work quickly to formulate the plan. Elliotte Friedman has speculated that the league will have to make a formal announcement by Thanksgiving if they have any hope of resuming play by New Year’s Day.
There must also be additional exterior pressure on the NHL to get started. The NBA has already announced the start of its season. The MLB completed a shortened season. The NFL is roughly halfway through a full regular season. It would not look good for the NHL to cancel their season. Even if it starts late, they must put on a 2020-21 season. Either way, it is virtually guaranteed to be a shortened season.
Rumour: Tom Gulitti of NHL.com has reported that the Carolina Hurricanes would like to have defenceman Dougie Hamilton signed to an extension prior to the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
Analysis: Looking at their roster, the Hurricanes have one of the deepest defences in the entire NHL. Dougie Hamilton has been a key component to their lineup since arriving in Raleigh. Now the franchise is hoping to have him locked up for a few more years. Hamilton is entering the final year of a contract that has earned him $5.75 million per season. That price will likely go up for the 6’5″ behemoth.
Hamilton is a rare combination of defensive prowess and dynamic offence. That skill set is difficult to find in such a large defender. In 2020-21, Hamilton tallied 40 points in 47 regular-season games. That scoring pace is similar to what Victor Hedman accomplished. If Carolina wants to keep Hamilton around, it is going to cost them a pretty penny. His services will not come cheap. He is definitely worth it, but it may be challenging to work out with the NHL’s current financial situation.
Rumour: The Athletic’s Josh Yohe is reporting that the Pittsburgh Penguins could be forced to start a rebuild by the 2022-23 season.
Analysis: The championship window for the Penguins is closing, and that is if it has not already. Jim Rutherford has been making considerable efforts to patch together a roster that has been falling apart. That could come to an end following the 2021-22 season. During that summer, we will see the contracts of Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Bryan Rust come to an end. While not all three will necessarily hit the open market, the Penguins will have to pay them top dollar to retain their services. That may be difficult as the roster does not have the makings of one that can contend for a title anymore.
With those three key players all hitting unrestricted free agency at the same time, Rutherford will have no choice but to start a rebuild. The combination of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as a one-two punch on their top lines has brought home a pair of championships in the last five years. While they were successful in recent memory, the team has lost far too much to keep patching the holes left behind by retirements and other pending free agents. This stage eventually comes for every team that contends and it is on the horizon for Pittsburgh.
That does it for today’s NHL rumours. Be sure to check back tomorrow for another edition.