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Twitter Tuesday: COVID-19’s implications on team finances, the draft and Taylor Hall

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Let’s talk all sorts of implications COVID-19 has on the NHL

Colorado Avalanche v Vancouver Canucks

It’s been 40 long, agonizing days in the desolate tundra of this hockey-less world. I’ve long waved my white flag on the 2019-20 season. I’ve now begun counting the days until next season’s training camps begin — which would be something like 140ish days out, for what it’s worth...that is, if next season starts on time.

In keeping with the theme of looking forward to next year rather than dwelling on the minuscule chance that this season returns in some capacity, let’s discuss free agent targets and which UFAs may pique the interest of GM Joe and the Avs this summer.

There are two names in particular that have thrust themselves to the top of every Avalanche fan’s wishlist. One of those names, Taylor Hall’s, we’ve come to know quite well from earlier in the season when it was speculated that Colorado was close to pulling the trigger on a deal to acquire the once-upon-a-time Hart Trophy winner. The other name is the captain and longtime member of the NHL’s most recent Stanley Cup-winning team, that is, the St. Louis Blues’ 30-year-old defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

According to the poll from Tom’s article listed above, a fair majority of Avs fans would rather see Hall in the Burgundy and Blue rather than Petro. Let’s discuss.

Do the Avs want to sign Taylor Hall? Absolutely. Will they? I guess we’ll see.

Sakic and the Avalanche were reportedly pretty close to acquiring Hall back in December before 28-year-old winger was shipped to Arizona instead. In the end, GM Joe wasn’t willing to pay the price, which reportedly included the name Conor Timmins as part of New Jersey’s asking price. But now that Hall is expected to become an unrestricted free agent, Joe won’t have to give up expensive assets like picks and prospects to acquire Hall’s services, rather it comes down to what he’ll offer Hall financially and if there is any mutual interest for Hall to come to Colorado — which, come on, why wouldn’t there be? If you’re Hall, the Avs are undoubtedly on your top-five list, maybe even top-three. And if you’re Sakic and the Avs, yes, of course, adding another offensive weapon like Hall to your arsenal is certainly enticing.

Colorado has the extra cap space, no doubt about it. According to Sportrac, the Avs are projected to have the fifth-most cap room in the NHL come next season — something like $27 million. That, of course, will all change now with the cap space likely not going up too much (if at all) due to COVID-19 revenue loss. Either way, with Hall likely commanding something like $9-10 million per year, according to The Hockey News, adding Hall to the Avs roster is still very doable.

The Avs also have somewhat of a weakness at left wing. There’s the captain up top, and then there are some question marks further down the depth chart. There’s Vlad Namestnikov, who may or may not be re-signed (likely not if you bring in Hall), then Andre Burakovsky (who will likely be re-signed) and Matt Nieto, a pending UFA whose spot on the roster is likely going to be lost to either Martin Kaut or Logan O’Connor come next season. That said, if you ditch Namestnikov’s $4 million per year with Hall, suddenly your left side is lookin’ pretty good.

If I were making bold predictions, my answer is Yes, the Avs will sign Taylor Hall. Let’s go seven years at $9.25M a season. As far as the implications go, it means roster players like Namestnikov and Nieto will not be extended in Denver. Seems like a fair trade if you’re replacing those two with Hall.

If — and that’s a very large if — the NHL somehow returns and plays its games without fans, yes, it would most definitely affect the salary cap, especially if it’s fan-less and ticket sales amount to zero. Either way, this month-plus pause has undoubtedly already effected the cap space for next year.

A week before the season was put on pause, projections for next year’s salary cap was expected to go up a few million dollars, as it usually does. The guess is somewhere in the realm of $84-88 million, up from this year’s $81.5. The final salary cap limits are set to be finalized in June, however, with the tons and tons of revenue lost with a cancellation of this season, everything changes.

According to the NY Post, the NHL has informed the NHLPA that the revenue lost because of COVID-19 is going to range from “from the best-case low of a couple of hundred million dollars to a worst-case amount of up to one billion dollars.” With the escrow expecting to be all sorts of messed up now, players and the league are going to lose A LOT of money. That means next seasons cap space is no doubt in question now. It will certainly not go up by $3.5-7 million as it was originally projected.

Cap space is likely the only thing that will be effected. I don’t think any of the league’s teams are in any sort of serious danger of folding because of lost revenue. They’ll be protected by the NHL or by some sort of large loan that will be offered to the teams in the most danger.

That’s a great question, and I think it’s one the NHL doesn’t even know how to answer at the moment. For now, the draft has been postponed, likely to give officials more time to figure this mess out.

If it were me and I were in charge of figuring this out, I’d say just throw the names in the lottery as they were when the season was put on pause. I don’t think every team should be in the mix for the top pick in the draft.

Come on now, there’s a 61 point difference between the league’s top team (Boston, 100 points) and Detroit, which has just 39 points. I get what you’re saying, it’s fair because the season never finished and no team won anything, so why not give everyone a chance at a top prize, which in this case, instead of the Stanley Cup would be the top pick in the draft.

I really don’t care one way or the other. If you want to throw all 31 team’s ping pong ball in the lottery wheel, that’s fine. Or, if you want to keep it as normal as possible and just throw the bottom 14 teams in the mix, also fine by me. Either one is fair in its own respect.

But I think we can all agree that we’re all just glad this a choice I have to make.

Poll

How do you handle the NHL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Give all 31 teams a chance
    (132 votes)
  • 60%
    Keep with tradition: Only the bottom 14 teams are in the mix
    (204 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now

I think that’s exactly what Erik Johnson would do, and I think he will certainly be asked to waive it.

Per the expansion draft rules, the Avs can only protect 7 forwards, 3 defenseman and a goalie, OR 8 total skaters (any combination of forwards and D-men) and one goalie.

There’s obvious choices on the Avs roster as who you’d protect. Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabe Landeskog and Sam Girard top that list. And looking at the defense, the Avs are going to re-sign and will want to protect Ryan Graves, who is likely going to be the third and final D-man protected by the Avs. Technically, EJ has to be protected because he has a no-movement clause (NMC) on his contract, that is, unless he waives it and exposes himself.

EJ is a veteran of this league and he’s committed to his team and the Avs organization. He understands this is a business and he’ll do what’s best for the team, because that’s the kind of guy EJ is. That said, he’ll most certainly waive his NMC to make room for Graves. And like you said, I don’t think he nor the Avalanche are worried about Seattle taking a 33-year-old defenseman in the expansion draft. The Avs will likely have a number of better and younger players that will pique Seattle’s interest anyway. So there’s really nothing to worry about, EJ won’t be going anywhere anyway if he does or doesn't waive his NMC.


Any more questions, comments, concerns? Direct those to @0ffScottFree on Twitter or email him at scottyamacdonald@gmail.com.