Wednesday, April 22, 2020

No, contracts won’t just expire in the middle of the playoffs. But what if they did?

Any chance of the NHL finishing the 2019-20 season revolves around the playoffs extending further into the summer than ever before. Some of the proposals being kicked around would go into August or even September, and even the best-case scenarios extend well into July.

That’s led to some fans asking a question: What happens to all those contracts that are set to expire on July 1?

After all, everyone knows that July 1 is the key date of the offseason; when expiring contracts officially terminate, multi-season deals roll over to the next year and the free agency market opens. What if all that happens while the NHL is still in the middle of the playoffs?

Well, as it turns out the answer isn’t all that exciting. Yes, the CBA defines the start of the league year as being July 1. But it also allows for a different date to be used, as long as the NHL and NHLPA agree. It’s right there on one of the agreement’s very first pages, where “league year” is defined as “July 1 of one calendar year to and including June 30 of the following calendar year or such other one year period to which the NHL and the NHLPA may agree.”

That makes it pretty clear that the actual year-end date is flexible. Having the two sides agree to push back the date presumably wouldn’t be all that hard, nor would it be unprecedented; it’s happened before due to lockouts, most recently in 2013 when free agency didn’t open until July 5.

So there you have it. Sorry for anyone who was rooting for Team Chaos, but this one is actually pretty simple. It’s even kind of boring. The NHL and NHLPA would just pick a new date in September or October or whenever made sense, and the new league year would start then.

(Editor’s note: Wow, it took you a month but you finally wrote something like a normal person. It’s a little bit shorter than usual, but otherwise nice work.)


(Editor’s note: Oh lord.)

Look, I promised you things were going to get weird around here. Today, let’s ask the question: What if the NHL playoffs resumed, but the league and players didn’t push back the July 1 date? What if they decided not to or couldn’t agree or, with everything else going on, they just forgot? What kind of madness might ensue if the league year rolled over in the middle of a postseason?

Let’s figure it out, for all 18 teams still in the running for a playoff spot based on points or points percentage. We’ll imagine a world where the NHL regular season is declared over, and the playoffs start sometime in June. Then July 1 rolls around and … whoops.

This is so stupid. Let’s do it.

Teams in good shape

Tampa Bay Lightning

While they have nine players lining up for new deals, none of them are key pieces beyond Anthony Cirelli and maybe Kevin Shattenkirk. The timing for Cirelli will be tricky since tradition dictates that young Lightning stars play hardball for weeks or months before caving and signing an embarrassingly team-friendly deal.

They’ll have the cap room to get something done, though, and can pick and choose which other pieces they feel they need based on how the playoffs are going. This whole forgotten contract deadline even makes Julien BriseBois look smart, since both of his big deadline pickups were signed through 2021.

Colorado Avalanche

They’ve got a dozen guys on expiring deals, which looks bad at first glance, but the only one who jumps out as a problem is Andre Burakovsky. He was their second-leading scorer among forwards this year, and he’d become a UFA. They’d definitely want to re-sign him, and they’d need to bring back most of their restricted free agents just so they could ice a full roster. But with lots of cap room already on the books and bad deals like Vladislav Namestnikov going away, they’d have more than enough space to get it all done.

Dallas Stars

All their key guys are locked in, and they have a ton of cap room to clean up any loose ends. Roope Hintz would need a new deal and Miro Heiskanen would want to talk extension, but that’s about it. Veteran Corey Perry would see his contract expire, but it’s the middle of the playoffs so he’d probably be suspended anyway, so no rush there.

Nashville Predators

Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith and Dan Hamhuis all hit UFA status. Granlund might be asked to take a pay cut from his $5.75 million cap hit, which would be an awkward conversation to have in the middle of a playoff series. Everyone else is locked up, though, and there’s enough cap room to patch up the bottom half of the blue line. And Roman Josi would probably be in a good mood on July 1 after that $11 million signing bonus hits his account. Breakfast is on the captain, boys.

Philadelphia Flyers

They’d have ten guys to re-sign, including UFAs Justin Braun and Brian Elliott, but overall the situation seems manageable. Carter Hart is eligible for an extension, which could be tricky. And I don’t know what you do with Nolan Patrick’s first post-ELC deal, if he’s even available to play.

Still, they could clear Radko Gudas off the books and would have room to bring guys back, and maybe even add somebody. My suggestion: Sign one of the Pittsburgh free agents to a mid-series deal just to get them to spill the Penguins’ game plan.

(Editor’s note: OK, that last part was weird but so far this hasn’t been as dumb as it could be …)

Hold on, I’m still warming up.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free 90-day trial.)

No comments:

Post a Comment