Thoughts on next season and possible a possible NHL canceled season

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?

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  • I’m a fan of Kravtsov, but I don’t think he’s ready for full time duty as a 2RW in the NHL – he might be 2-3 years away from that (and not for lack of skill). I’m not against an extension for Buch, though with the caveat that they avoid an onerous NTC so he’s always tradeable.

  • I don’t believe that the Rangers will be dealing either Buchnevich or Tony DeAngelo in the near future. Vitali is in the KHL for at least a good chunk of next season and he’d have to prove that he belongs in the top rotation. Kakko had a decent few games at the end of last season, but let us see him do it consistently over a significant portion of a season before we think we are ready to trade Buchnevich. Buchnevich is a pretty darn good player in all zones.

    Gosh Dave, back on the ADA trade thing again already? πŸ™‚ If they traded Tony at this juncture, they’d have huge holes in both the right and left sides of their defense. They’d also lose one of their most proficient scorers and a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder who is only 25. They don’t yet have anyone to replace Tony if they traded him.

    Unless they manage to get a top flight center in exchange for the package, I’d say that it is unlikely that the Rangers move both Buchnevich and DeAngelo at this time.

    • A trade idea I like is Kakko forJack Hughes. I’m not being completely literal here (doubt the Devils go for this), but the premise is the swap of two young players who seem to have off the charts futures. The Rangers deal from their stable of talented young wings (Lafreniere, Kakko, Kravtsov) and land a center or left defenseman of similar stature.

    • this is dave’s blog, if you post anything positive about tony you get censored.

      in all seriousness though, hed fit right in with seth jones and werenski.

    • In fairness D’Angelo only got a 2 year deal after a contensious negotiation just the year prior. The Rangers will probably trade him in the near future when the timing makes sense (i.e. when Lundqvist/Schneider are ready to contribute in the NHL). These short term deals don’t scream “foundational piece”.

  • I am wondering, if the season is cancelled will the draft order stay the same in 2021 as it was in 2020?

  • Reuanen’s progress is promising, but it is just Finland. My impression is that Liiga is not at the AHL level.

    I’ll disagree with point 6. Yes, there is a chance that none of the named quartet of youngsters will make the opening roster, in fact well over 95% IMO. A revolving door on the fourth line is more the rule than the exception in the NHL, but I think the Rangers are more likely to have a stable line than most teams. Especially with the effect of bonuses, I think the Rangers only have fourteen forwards they really want to use and I think settling on a roster will be easier than usual. Isn’t diGuiseppi-Rooney-Lemieux pretty much the fourth line the Rangers want?

    And when the younger guys are ready, does DQ want them on the fourth line?

  • Regarding Buchnevich (and DeAngelo), I really think the Rangers have an excellent chance to win the Cup in 2021 and I also believe the Rangers know this. They are committed to not mortgaging the future in pursuit of this, but i do not believe they plan to give up present assets as part of some nebulous plan. Yes, a trade is possible if it lands a player the Rangers want, but it will not about moving players out.

    Then there is money. Picture Panarin, Trouba, Zibanejad, Kakko, Lafreniere, Fox, Shesterkin all at $8M plus. You tie up maybe $65M with seven players. That just won’t work. Either some of these guys fall short or the Rangers simply can’t keep them all. One very useful asset going forward is a good top six forward who makes second line money. Pavel Buchnevich may just be that guy. obviously I don’t know how much Buch wants to stay with the Rangers and he may price himself out of NY, but you don’t deal him simply because you think Kakko and Kravtsov will be better. [they might not be better and if they are, they might not be affordable]

  • 1. I agree completely. Cancelling the season will push the NHL back years, severely damaging its credibility with TV networks AND fans.
    2. Also agreed. Having coverage on two networks is a good idea.
    3. Meh.
    4. Hmmm. Reunanan might just be the partner we’re looking for with Trouba.
    5. Well, if not Reunanen with Trouba, maybe Miller fits there? But, as you say, he might need some time playing with a pro team first.
    6. Fourth line? The Rangers are in an enviable, but problematic situation, with more good prospects than places for them to play, especially with the ECHL being shut down. Hmmm … do the phrase “trade bait” ring a bell?
    7. Trade Buchie? See point #6, too many players too few spots.
    8. Trade Buchie and Tony D? Better bring back the proverbial king’s ransom, but see point 6 again. There’s a lot of potential talent behind those two, as much as I like them both.

    • For the present day Rangers, shutting down the ECHL might actually be a blessing. Yes, Dan Girardi played in the ECHL but it is almost never true that someone who is not AHL-ready ever makes it to the NHL. OTOH, when Hartford had to choose last year between no-future veteran Mason Geertsen (who fights) and so-so prospect Sean Day (who doesn’t), I can’t help but think that the option of sending Day to the ECHL helped them choose Geertsen. And while Day likely won’t amount to anything, Tampa Bay did sign him when the Rangers cut him loose.

      The Rangers do have many prospects, but not enough to actually fill up the Hartford roster.

  • I love Gary Thorne as well but you do know he is 74 years old so he may not want to do all that work at his age.

  • I hated the way ESPN covered hockey when they had it years ago. They make everything about the superstars, which seems to me to be the antithesis of the sport even if it is the essence of the NBA. It was all about Crosby and Ovechkin. I guess it would good to split it up though and have competition for the TV rights.

    I’ve been touting Reunanen as the best of the “B” LHD prospects. This is his best shot before Robertson, Miller & Jones are ready. Tarmo has probably moved ahead of Hajek in the pecking order. Seems like it would be a mistake to advance K’Andre at this time – he seems to need more seasoning and coaching up. Hopefully management has learned that lesson from Howden, Lias and even Kakko.

    Agree that cancelling the season would be a disaster in the long run, even if the teams and perhaps the players have to take a big financial hit now.

    I think Buch is safe for now. Kratsov should stay in the KHL where he has been awesome so far. It was a disaster bringing him over last season but he seems to have improved dramatically and is even playing a 200 ft. game for the first time. They can see how Pavel does this season and bring Vitaly over after the KHL season ends if warranted. Also would be good to avoid burning off a year of service time as the Rangers will likely have cap problems again down the road.

  • “I don’t buy that the NHL cancels the season”,

    I do for many reasons. If money is the main issue, Buttman will push, and shut the season down due to a few influential owners who are too damn cheap to pay their players full amount due, with empty seats generating zero income.

    Unlike baseball paying their players on a pro-rated basis, the NHL players will get full pay, minus their percentage demanded by management to balance the books, some 62% pay. Let’s not forget that we are dealing with that little sawed off Napoleon (Buttman), who has shut down two seasons during his tenure as commissioner.

    ESPN is a farce, but if there is competition to cover the NHL, that means more money for the NHL, and it’s players. It will also force NBC to do a better job in order to keep themselves in the running for the next contract. Let’s not forget, Ed Snyder who is dead, was the owner of the Flyers, and NBC, really got the contract due to being an owner, and a friend of Buttman.

    Tarmo Reunanen isn’t going anywhere, Miller will blow past him after a little time in the AHL.

    Being a big Barron fan, he may well force the team to play him this season. The guy is big, soft hands, plays a very good 200 ft game, is cerebral, and built. He and Kreider work out together, and is bulking up big time. He is the real deal, trust me on this one.

    I stated this on many occasions, Buch will be history by next season’s end. We have too many quality RWs, and his current contract runs out at seasons end, he will be a cap casualty. ADA is here until Nils proces he is for real, and then my boy Tony will be gone as well. This is how I see this playing out!!!!!!!!!!

  • i dont think the nhl could survive if it canceld the season. this murderous year is coming to a end. i pray and have hope for a much better 2021.
    stay safe. LGR

  • Bettman’s favorite negotiating tool: Work stoppage. Like a kid, if he doesn’t get his way, then he takes his puck, and goes home with it. Figure it out (the finances).

    I think Miller’s situation is directly tied to the start of the AHL (if they start at all) and the start of the NHL. If they both actually start at about the same time, then I think that Miller starts in Hartford to get some games in there. If no AHL or they start much later, then I think that he’s more likely to start with the Rangers right off the bat.

    Reunanen has the experience edge, no question. So he is a safety net for Miller. But if the Rangers insist on Johnson and Smith getting top 9 minutes, then I guess the rest irrelevant, right?

    Buch’s name is definitely out there for trade, but it would be a huge mistake, IMO. I am so tired of seeing Rangers traded only to see them succeed elsewhere.

    For now, I think there is zero chance that ADA gets traded. For now.

    • Amen Tony, Buchnevich is to my mind rounding into the player we thought he could be. If I were the Rangers I’d hang onto him at least until one of the kids proves to be as good. Same regarding Tony D.

      I disagree a bit on Miller. I think he needs a good year in the AHL before he will be ready, or at least most of a year. His physical attributes are exciting, but he needs more coaching.

      As for Buttman, I have nothing good to say. He’s ruined too many seasons already.

      May you have the happiest of Thanksgivings possible during this trying time for all of us.

      • Maybe the Rangers can get Buch on a reasonable deal like they did with ADA and Strome. We can only hope.

        Peter, I have no problem with Miller going to Hartford, but what if there is no Hartford to play at? For this year? IMO, if Miller had no chance of playing for the Rangers this year, then he would have been shipped out overseas, on loan. But they did not do that. It’s a developing story, for sure.

        I dislike the man. He’s taken a great sport and made a mockery out of it. He’s guaranteed profits to the owners for 2 reasons: He keeps adding teams at $500M per (which the players get zero share of, except for Seattle because of the pandemic and loss of revenue) and the TV deal with Comcast (Philly owner Snyder, who was Bettman’s buddy).

        And Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to you and your family as well my friend.

        • Tony

          I’d venture to say that the vast majority of our readers aren’t aware of the insest type of a relationship that the sawed off runt Buttman had with the two most influential owners Snyder, and Jacobs.

          Both were miserable, cheap, and disgusting people on the face of the earth. Snyder in particular, was downright ruthless, and all he wanted was power, with more power for kicks. Gary Napoleon catered to both of them, at the cost of the Rangers whom he hates, because they controlled his pay. Buttman will go down in history as a terrible commissioner, and a despicable human being!!!!!!!!

          Based on my post, you’d think that I like the runt????????

          • Agreed Walt.

            I never liked him, even from the beginning. Had work stoppages at every expired CBA during his “reign”, until this past one.

            Has treated “his” player terribly, by continuing to ignore a “no tolerance” rule for head shots (though I don’t know what the eff the Players’ Association is thinking on this either), not to mention the suspension “process” is laughable.

            Basically his “expansion” of the league and hockey has been to add more teams (to get the $500M per), when almost 20% of the current teams should not be in operations as it is.

            And, say what you want about Dolan, another buffoon, but how is he not invited to the CBA negotiations when he is the owner of an Original 6 team AND the negotiations are in Manhattan? Well, that answer is because Dolan and the Rangers sued the league over marketing in the middle 2000s, so Bettman, the troll that he is, will disrespect Dolan and the Rangers to continue the grudge.

          • I mean I think Bettman is a bad commissioner, but his job to represent the owners and he does that very well. Work stoppages every time the CBA is up is a bad look for the league and sets it back.

            I agree teams like Arizona and Florida should have been relocated instead of expanding the league. Still think Quebec should have a team over either of those places.

          • Not sucking the owners dry is good for the league, because they pay the bills. I don’t, and never, had a problem with that. All sports are in the same boat.

            But, unlike other sports leagues, the NHL owners have continuously demonstrated a dishonorable way of doing things. Causing work stoppages, on purpose, to save money during the regular season, for example.

            The players do not share in playoff revenue as their salaries only cover the regular season (I believe), so the owners actually make more money (bottom line) with less regular season games with full playoffs, if their team are in the playoffs.

            As I have mentioned before, Bettman basically got full control in exchange for getting the owners a hard cap. The owners would need an over 75% vote to override Bettman, on anything, so basically, Bettman is now a dictator without fear of owner opposition.

    • That’s what they said the last lockout, and the one before that, and the one before that…

      Of course, the pandemic changes everything, so historical data may not apply this time. So, maybe you may be right this time.

  • The NHL is not cancelling the season. There is too much money on the line. If the players cannot live with 25% deferred (not forfeited) salary the alternative is to sit home without a salary. Would they really do this? There is no benefit at all to cancelling the season and I don’t expect it to happen.
    One thing that I do expect is loads of competition on the third and forth lines and on the defense pairings. The Rangers have a large expanded roster to draw from.

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