The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup four days ago, but you could be forgiven if you’ve already forgotten about that. Based on their reports from Wednesday’s media event, even the Chicago players are a little fuzzy on the details at this point.
As for the rest of us, we’re just doing what hockey fans do: forgetting all about the just-concluded playoffs and immediately moving into offseason mode. And that’s probably a good thing, since the NHL doesn’t exactly give us much of a breather. The offseason has already arrived, with buyout and arbitration windows opening up and just more than one week until the entry draft. Here’s a look at everything you need to know to get you through the next few days and weeks.
The entry draft happens next Friday and Saturday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, and unlike recent years there won’t be much suspense over the top picks. The first round will open with the official coronation of Connor McDavid as the league’s Next Big Thing, not to mention the latest savior of the Edmonton Oilers. After that, the Sabres will pick Jack Eichel, and GM Tim Murray will try really, really hard to seem happy about it.
That’s when things will get unpredictable, as the next tier of top prospects could go in any order. The Coyotes hold the third pick and could opt for defensemen Noah Hanifin or Ivan Provorov, or take one of the top forwards, like Dylan Strome or Mitch Marner. Their choice will dictate what the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Devils do with the next picks, and whether any other teams want to swoop in and move up. It should lead to an interesting opening round of a draft class that’s considered reasonably strong if not top-heavy. We’ll have a full preview next week.
Of course, as has become tradition, the actual picks may be overshadowed by the wheeling and dealing that goes on down on the draft floor. Which brings us to …
The Trade Market
You remember blockbuster trades. They were those things that used to happen all the time and were amazing fun for fans to argue about, right up until every GM in the league got timid and decided the salary cap gave them plausible cover to stop doing their jobs. Ringing any bells? Vaguely?