Feels like the Stanley Cup was awarded just yesterday but we’re already into full offseason mode. We’ve already seen plenty of activity
over the last couple of days with the Lightning acquiring goaltender
Anders Lindback and the Sharks picking up defenseman Brad Stuart.
There is going to be plenty of activity in the upcoming
weeks and months, so here’s a look at the key dates for the NHL offseason.
NHL Awards: June
There’s going to be many important dates this offseason
but this is not one of them. The NHL Awards show is a nice night to celebrate
hockey but the show is a bit of a farce. Consider that Ken Hitchock is likely
to win Coach of the Year even though Darryl Sutter took over the struggling Los
Angeles Kings midseason and turned them into the Stanley Cup champs. Or that
Henrik Lunqvist is likely to be award the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best
goalie even though Jonathan Quick should win it given how he performed down the
stretch of the season.
Nonetheless, it should be a fun night for hockey fans to
reminisce on a fantastic season.
NHL Entry Draft:
The first significant event of the 2012 offseason will be
the NHL Entry Draft. In previous years, the Entry Draft has preempted the first
day of free agency as the big moves have happened at the draft.
Once again, the Edmonton Oilers will have the first pick
overall but all eyes and ears are all several players involved in trade rumors.
Is this the time that Rick Nash and Roberto Luongo are finally dealt? Will the
New York Rangers move Brandon Dubinsky and will the Toronto Maple Leafs trade
to the top of the draft?
Expect a slew of trades to go down this Friday and
Saturday as the NHL welcomes a new class of youngsters to the big leagues.
Free Agency: July
The free agent frenzy will begin on July 1 and there are going to be plenty of teams with cap space looking to make a
splash. At the top of everyone’s board is going to be New Jersey Devils captain
Zach Parise, who led the team to the Stanley Cup final. On defense, Nashville
Predators minutes-eater Ryan Suter is going to be targeted.
The Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Phoenix
Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, and Winnipeg Jets lead the way in regards to cap
space. Keep in mind that none are the typical major-market power players in
free agency, so it will be interesting to see whether they are inclined to
The most important day in the 2012 NHL offseason could be
September 15, which is when the NHL’s Collective Bargaining
Agreement is set to expire. NHL fans still approach these types of negotiations
with trepidation given what they’ve been put through previously.
The good news is that the NHL is in far better financial
shape than they were in 2004-05. This time around, there’s more money to go
around and the threat of a lockout should be minor.
The main issues
that need to be hashed out is the player’s share of the revenue, the salary
floor (the poorer teams would like it lowered) and guaranteed contracts. The
NHL would like to move closer to a system that we see in the NFL and lose the
guaranteed contracts (see: Rick DiPietro) but that’s not likely to happen.
If the NHL really
wants to put their foot down to achieve these things, we might in fact see a
lock out. What’s closer to the reality is some kind of compromise that won’t
alter our regularly scheduled programming.