Hello and welcome to a regular Sunday edition of NHL rumours! Can you believe the deadline is fewer than two weeks away? The league is already busy with trades and signings, but that activity will only increase in the nine days before trading must cease. Keep checking with us at Last Word on Hockey for the fastest news each day. Today’s NHL rumours feature the New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, and the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.
New York Islanders
Rumour: Arthur Staple of The Athletic recently explored some topics related to the Isles’ potential deadline plans.
Analysis: New York has so many potential avenues they could travel for the remainder of 2020-21. It’s hard to imagine an expensive asset like Taylor Hall or Kyle Palmieri joining the team, but there are definitely other players that will be on the market. Few are as intriguing in the Islanders’ system as Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Foligno seems like a perfect addition. He is a respectable middle or bottom-six forward at this stage of his career with six goals and 15 points in 38 games. Perhaps more important are the 95 hits and 32 blocks in the same span of time. It’s that sort of grit that Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have prized as they’ve built New York into a contender. Foligno also shouldn’t be particularly expensive given that he is a 33-year-old pending free agent.
The challenge will be fitting his cap hit of $5.5 million on the roster. It’s far from the highest among players who may change teams in the next weeks, but it is something to consider. The good thing is that it would only impact New York for the next handful of weeks. It would not drag them down in 2021-22. Foligno is certainly a logical reinforcement for the Islanders to pursue down the last stretch of the regular season.
Rumour: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski recently revealed that the league’s contingency plan for fewer than 56 games may be employed this year.
All efforts will be made to have the @Canucks play the full 56 games, but the NHL was prepared and realistic about having to use points percentage for some teams this season due to COVID. The players knew it too. From our piece in February on ESPN: pic.twitter.com/EUEvZ8IGRa
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 4, 2021
Analysis: It would be devastating if Vancouver could not finish its season. The most obvious reason is simply concern over the health of players and staff. It would also affect the remaining schedules for their North Division opponents significantly. Finally, the Canucks simply don’t have a huge amount of organizational depth if they are forced to resume with players still in protocol.
If the ideal scenario happens and the team returns to full strength quickly, they would need to fit 19 remaining games into fewer than six or seven weeks. That would average out at roughly three or four games per week. That isn’t uniquely dense, but it would be a sprint within a sprint immediately after a serious health scare and limited access to facilities. Such a grind would push a limited roster even further than it has been.
This outbreak and shutdown may negate Vancouver’s ability to ship players out at the deadline given their disappointing season. They do have some players worth something in a trade, but they may not be available to new teams for multiple weeks. Very few contending teams can trade for a player in mid-April that might not be available immediately. This seems like a situation with very few positive outcomes for the Canucks organization and fans.
Rumours: Saturday’s weekly headlines segment indicates that the league is discussing another potential playoff bubble scenario.
Analysis: Nobody wants a bubble. The league doesn’t want it, the organizations don’t want it, and the fans don’t want it. However, it something that has to be considered in light of Vancouver’s situation and the disparity between U.S. and Canadian players with regards to vaccination. The league can’t take a risk if there is no clarity on the health of teams that might participate.
If the league is forced back into a bubble, it will create interesting conversations related to location and attendance. A bubble in Canada could prevent fans. That could mean no postseason gate revenue, which would be terrible. On the other hand, a bubble in the U.S. may impact Canadian players and fans trying to return home when the postseason is complete. There are obviously no answers now, but there are numerous health and financial considerations involved.
Embed from Getty Images