Another day, another rumored plan to relaunch the NHL or reschedule NHL activities. While there is no concrete plan to restart the 2019-2020 season yet, there are rumblings that the league is looking to move forward with the 2020 NHL Draft in early June. This news comes, again, without any concrete plan to restart the season.
It was made known that the league would work with teams that have conditional trades for picks, which the Rangers have (the later of the Toronto/Carolina first rounders), to ensure a viable solution for both teams. While that is certainly a concern, the bigger concern is that roster players cannot be traded at the draft like they usually are. Also worth noting that as a part of this, the draft lottery will revert back to pre-lockout days, when a team could only move up five spots at most.
When you couple this with any of the recent rumblings of how to restart the season, many of which leave the Rangers out of the playoffs. So let’s recap what we’ve heard so far and how it impacts the Rangers:
- The Rangers, as it currently stands, are not in the playoff picture. Any scenario where the league goes directly to the playoffs leaves them out.
- The Leafs and Hurricanes are both in the playoffs, but barely. There was a chance one or both miss the playoffs, giving the Rangers a higher chance at the draft lottery. If there is no regular season continuation, the Rangers miss out on another top-15 pick.
- The Rangers no longer have the possibility, albeit small, of winning a top-three pick.
- The Rangers cannot look to make package deals at the draft that include Ryan Strome or Alex Georgiev, two players with high perceived value.
Remember, none of this is set in stone. A lot can change between now and when an official announcement is reached.
Regarding #4 – it is possible that the GMs can be creative and, assuming there is trust, make wink-wink-nudge-nudge deals. However the NHL doesn’t allow trades for future considerations anymore. So let’s just say we’d see something like this (hypothetical):
- At the draft, the Rangers trade a mid-prospect for a higher than expected pick.
- After the season concludes, the Rangers send Alex Georgiev to that team for a mid/low pick.
- All in all, the trade would be Georgiev and a mid prospect for a high pick and a mid/low pick.
This is certainly possible, and boy am I waiting for the social media outrage when the Rangers make half a trade.
Fun stuff aside, doing the draft before the conclusion of the season is stupid. I get that the NHL wants as little impact on the NHL seasons –this year and next– as possible. However this severely impacts how teams normally do business. The NHL Draft is where teams gear up for the next season, where they can trade roster players for picks or retool. But even beyond that – how do you determine the draft order? What happens if the team with the 16th pick wins the Stanley Cup? Do they have to swap picks with the team that selected 31st?
Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. The NHL has an incredible history of shooting themselves in the foot with every key decision. This is a league that forfeited a year of revenue just to get a salary cap, and now won’t forfeit 15 games and the playoffs in the middle of a pandemic that impacts player and personnel health and safety.
Another stupid plan is to address the draft before there is a plan for the rest of the season. So the league is going to hold a draft without any plan on how the rest of the season is going to play out? They should be announced together, or the regular season plan announced first. Announcing a plan for next season before figuring out what is going on for this season is comparable to renovating your kitchen before buying the house.
Who knows? Maybe the NHL will buck the trend of horrible decisions and actually do something that makes sense. If it were me, I’d continue with all 2020 offseason activities as originally planned and just cancel the season. It’s a tough decision, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one making it, but with so much unknown it’s best to just plan for the best for next season. And by that I mean more than just a “THANK YOU FANS” on the ice for the season.