The NHL and the NHLPA still have to clear the biggest hurdle for playing next season, and that is money. Earlier this week, the owners asked the players for more concessions, fresh off a newly negotiated CBA. Obviously this is a fluid situation regarding COVID, but these provisions were supposed to be included in that CBA. There is the possibility a canceled NHL season, or so they say.
1. I don’t buy that the NHL cancels the season. There’s just too much money at stake. Even beyond whatever HRR this season they’d pass up. A canceled NHL season, when all the other leagues figured something out, would destroy their credibility as a league. This plays into any negotiations with TV rights, since their US TV contract is also up after next season.
2. The next TV contract is going to be interesting. There are rumors that ESPN wants hockey back in some capacity. They actually have some leverage this time around. NBC didn’t really do a good job showcasing the NHL’s top talent or teams. They also consistently prioritized other sports, sometimes moving playoff games from NBC to NBCSN in overtime. The NHL doesn’t need to have an exclusive deal with a network. They can have both networks air games.
3. If the NHL gets games on ESPN, I want Gary Thorne back doing games. That’s all I want.
4. On to the Rangers – I am thoroughly intrigued by Tarmo Reunanen’s chances of landing a roster spot out of camp. He’s getting 25+ minutes a night in Liiga, which is noteworthy. The scouting report on Reunanen is a guy who is steady in all three zones. He’s not flashy, he’s not going to put up huge numbers. He will just be a consistent presence on the ice who makes good reads and has a good first pass.
5. I think Reunanen has the inside track over K’Andre Miller, but that’s only because I think the Rangers are going to take it real slow with Miller. Reunanen has experience at the pro level playing against adults, while Miller does not. It doesn’t mean Reunanen is going to be better than Miller. It just means they are at different points in their careers. Miller getting a year in the AHL to adjust is a good thing. He may not even need the year. He may not even need time in the AHL at all!
6. The fourth line battle is going to be interesting. As much as we talk about Morgan Barron, Patrick Khodorenko, Austin Rueschhoff, and Justin Richards, there’s a chance none of them make the Rangers out of camp. Again, that’s fine! The Rangers have NHL bodies to play fourth line minutes. However I would expect that fourth line to be a revolving door all season.
7. Keep an eye on Pavel Buchnevich. I think he’s the next “big” trade piece if things do progress the way the Rangers hope with Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov. We’ve been on this since July, and my tune isn’t changing yet. It does depend on Kakko and Kravtsov developing into top-six wingers, though.
8. I wonder what a Buchnevich/Tony DeAngelo package can get the Rangers?