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NHL Rumours: Washington Capitals, Helmet Ads, and 2021 NHL Draft

NHL Rumours

Welcome to the Saturday edition of NHL Rumours. The NHL is back in full swing as their a tentative agreement is in place to start the season on January 13th. There are still plenty of questions surrounding how everything will look. We here at Last Word on Hockey will keep you abreast of the latest news surrounding the season and from around the league. With an agreement in place that means the rumour mill will be picking up. Today’s NHL Rumours feature the Washington Capitals, the NHL to Approve Helmet Ads, and 2021 NHL Draft

NHL Rumours

Washington Capitals

Rumour: Now that Henrik Lundqvist will be stepping aside for the season, Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic writes about how the Washington Capitals can fill the backup goalie void. 

Analysis: The Capitals find themselves in a conundrum as the 2020-21 NHL Season will get underway sometime in mid-January. But now that Lundqvist will not be playing this season because of a heart condition, the Capitals have to scramble to figure out a backup goalie. El-Bashir looks at multiple options for Capitals. The first option is looking at the free-agent market. It is slim pickings right now, but Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard are still available. Those who know Miller best believe he will stay out west closer to his family. However, El-Bashir wonders will Miller be tempted to come to play for the Capitals in a shortened season and the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. It’s pretty much the reason why Lundqvist went to Washington.

Then there is Jimmy Howard. His best years are behind him. But if used in the right situation and not as the starting goalie, he could also give the Capitals that veteran presence needed in between the pipes to calm Ilya Samsonov. The Capitals could trade for a goalie as well, but the salary cap is an issue for the Capitals like for most teams. So it would have to be the right deal. Washington could go with Pheonix Copley or Vitek Vanece to backup Samsonov. Neither has that much NHL experience. And as we have seen it is always best to have a veteran backup. Washington in a tricky situation to say the least.

NHL To Approve Helmet Ads

Rumour: According to the Sports Business Journal, the NHL Board of Governors is expected to approve helmet ads for the upcoming season. 

Analysis: The NHL is looking to boost revenue for the upcoming season. They tried going to players to make up the difference, but that was immediately struck down. So they decided to go down a different avenue. And helmet ads are nothing new. We see them all the time in the European leagues and in the KHL. As well as international tournaments played in European countries. But the NHL is not looking to go that far with these helmet ads. In fact, this season will most likely be a test run. If helmet ads work for this season we could see them going forward, if they don’t, we may never see them again. But they need to do something to boost hockey-related revenue without fans in the stands.

If the helmet ads are done right like the article says where it will only be placed on either side of the helmet, then that is fine. If it were like those European leagues all over the helmet then the NHL might have some issues. But according to a Chicago-based firm, one of these helmet ads could fetch $2.5 million for an average team. Some of the bigger name teams could fetch more money. Plus this is good for the sponsors as well considering what happened last season. Again it is unclear how everything will work, but you can bet the NHL is looking into every avenue to make money for this season.

NHL Draft

Rumour: Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes in one of his latest articles whether or not it would be a good idea for the NHL to move the 2021 Draft back to December.

Analysis: As he prefaces at the beginning of the piece nothing is set in stone and things can be changed. However, considering many junior leagues have different start dates, it will be hard for scouts to evaluate talent. Not to mention the NCAA is having their conferences start at different times. In addition, most European and Russian leagues have started, so they have a leg up on the competition in North America. And as we have seen the virus is leading the train. With start and stops being a possibility how will pro scouts be able to evaluate talent prior to the draft. Usually, the draft is held in the summer prior to free agency. Since Montreal did not host it last year they will host it this year.

The worst thing a team can do is draft a player without evaluating him. And pushing it back gives them not only this season but the first half of next season as well. Not to mention the tape just doesn’t show the intangibles. And that is what matters most to a lot of teams. It will be a difficult task to move the draft. But there might be enough pushback from certain teams to do it.

That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours, keep your eyes posted for another edition real soon.

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