We’re still in a holding pattern as we await the start of the 2020-21 season. However, we have plenty of NHL rumours. Owners and league officials are trying to figure out a start and how games the campaign will be. General managers are still trying to tweak parts of their lineup. Today’s NHL rumours focus on where games in the upcoming season will be played, the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.
All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that NHL owners want to play games at their home arenas. Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds that the league does plan to forge ahead Jan. 1 with 48-60 games as confirmed by Bill Daly.
NHL plans to start season Jan. 1; Flyers new division likely to have nearby opponents https://t.co/kYyDC7Xliu
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) November 14, 2020
Analysis: Carchidi’s report did add that there are still “a lot of moving parts” in trying to get the season off by the new year. Plenty of it depends on if the United States can slow down the spread of COVID-19 to lower levels. The country has seen a big spike in recent weeks and the holiday season may exacerbate that.
Seravalli’s report said there’s growing momentum to have teams play at home arenas than hybrid bubbles. The NHL is a gate-driven league more than the NBA or the NFL. However, some places like New York, California and other states with tighter gathering restrictions may preclude teams from hosting fans.
Cost is also a factor in shying away from a return to the bubble model. The league shelled out anywhere from $75 million to $90 million operating bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto. League officials and owners would love at least some type of gate revenue to come in while the league rides out the pandemic.
The league needs to be smart if it wants to avoid the infections that are plaguing NCAA college football at the moment. However, it seems the NBA’s rush to start around Christmastime will force the NHL’s hand.
New York Rangers
Rumour: New York Post reporter Larry Brooks says the Rangers will keep former 2017 first-rouder Vitali Kravtsov who will stay in the KHL until he completes his season.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) November 12, 2020
Analysis: Kravtsov is off to a good start in Russia while on loan to Traktor Chelyabinsk. He has eight goals and 11 points in 19 games so far with the Russian club. Traktor are one of the better clubs and are expected to make the Gagarin Cup playoffs. The KHL’s playoffs start in March and end late in May Traktor reach the final.
Kravtsov has been playing like a man on a mission with a renewed drive and attitude change. The Rangers do have the option to bring the winger back at any time. However, Brooks confirmed the Blueshirts will let the Russian club team finish the season before bringing him back.
The 20-year-old may be a welcome addition to the Rangers’ forward group and would address the team’s balance issues on the wings. He’s played well at his natural right wing spot in the KHL and will be in the mix when he does return to North America.
Detroit Red Wings
Rumours: Red Wings beat writer Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News said that general manager Steve Yzerman may not be done making moves this off-season.
— Detroit News Sports (@detnews_sports) November 4, 2020
Analysis: Detroit does have $9.5 million in cap space left, so they could add someone to compete for a roster spot. Yzerman did say there’s plenty of players still left on the free agent market they could look at. He said they’ll know more about the team’s next move as the season approaches.
The Wings general manager is in a good position with this much room. He could take on a bad contract for a draft pick much like he did with the Rangers when they dealt Marc Staal to Detroit. These deals could yield more draft picks that Yzerman can use to take a prospect or package for a big name.
Detroit does have Tyler Bertuzzi‘s next deal to worry about at the end of the season. However, they’ll shed $3.85 million when Darren Helm‘s contract ends. Staal’s $5.7 million also comes off the books at the end of the season. The Wings could have all the salary power in a stagnant hockey economy.