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Twitter Tuesday: ¡Cinco de Mayo Edition!

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Is hockey’s return really on the horizon?

Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo y bienvenidos a otra edición de Twitter el martes!

It’s been 55 days since the last Colorado Avalanche game, and realistically it may be another 55 more days until the NHL resumes the 2019-20 season — if at all. In the recent days, it does appear that the league is making positive strides in the direction of returning this year in some capacity. What that might look like, we don’t really know. Whether it be finishing the dozen or so regular season games remaining before starting playoffs or skipping those steps and going straight to an “expanded playoff format.” Only time will tell.

The takeaway here is that there is some increased and legitimized optimism surrounding the NHL’s return to action this season.

Hard to say.

Based on rumors that have circulated from a number of verified accounts on Twitter have suggested that teams are telling its European players to return to the States soon, as NHL camps are rumored to be starting up on June 1. A NY Post article from April 23 reported that their sources have informed them that “at least one NHL team has told its to be prepared to report on May 15 to begin informal workouts that would precede a training camp of up to three weeks.” Make of all that what you will.

Realistically, there are a lot of hurdles to jump here, including strict quarantine guidelines for players abroad who will be returning to their respective NHL team’s city. Canada prime minister Justin Trudeau recently held a press briefing outside of his home in Ottawa and had this to say of the NHL’s possible return:

“I think it’s a question we’ll have to look into. Certainly at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL. We recognize that it’s a possibility, but it depends on an enormous amount of things, and I don’t want to speculate on this until there’s more discussion.”

Like Trudeau said, it’s so hard to speculate when or if an NHL season will resume. There is so much up in the air, and while there has been significant progress and a growing sense of optimism, we’re still likely months out.

The same article also quotes a source familiar with the NHL’s discussions, saying the “most aggressive timetable would have players returning to their home rinks as early as May 15, followed by a training camp and possible exhibition games in June. Under that timeline, the regular season would resume in July with the Stanley Cup final likely stretching into September.”

Yeah that’s a tough call and you have to feel for the Namestnikov’s on the team.

Like you said, Val Nichushkin has certainly played his way into one-year extension, and I would agree. I think that’s exactly what he’ll get. But on the other hand, the recently-acquired Vlad Namestnikov only got nine games in an Avs sweater before the season’s pause. He put up very solid six points (four goals) in his cameo in Colorado, but will that be enough of a measuring stick for GM Joe Sakic to offer him a contract? That’s a tough sell.

Then there are guys like Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Jost who have become the two most polarizing players on the roster. Z has played very up-and-down hockey all season, but before the hiatus, he was playing in and out of the lineup while averaging right around 12 minutes per game, the fewest of the team’s D-men. Guys like Z haven’t had their chance at redemption if the season is cancelled. Same goes for Jost, who is also set to be a restricted free agent. Most would agree he hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft grade this year but was certainly playing better hockey in the weeks leading up to the pause. Was that enough to earn an extension?

It’ll be a tough call and there a number of guys on the team who are hoping the season resumes for that reason. Contracts and pay days are made in the playoffs, after all.

I wrote on this a few weeks back. I don’t think the Avs would need to try and trade EJ for expansion draft reasons. What I do think they’ll do is, yes, waive his no-movement clause (NMC) in order to make room for Ryan Graves to be protected.

Quick note: for those that don’t know the expansion draft rules yet, teams can protect three defensemen, seven forwards and a goalie; OR, teams can protect any combination of eight total players and one goalie. But for the Avs, given their young talented roster, Sakic will undoubtedly go with the 3 D, 4 F, 1 G look to protect as many of his players as possible. Where E.J. comes into play is he’s the only guy on the team with a NMC. Under the same expansion draft rules, all players under a NMC are automatically protected unless they waive their clause.

So all that said, the Avs are obviously protected Cale Makar and Sam Girard on defense. Those are the no-brainers. With E.J. having the NMC on his contract, he’d automatically be the third D-man protected by the Avs. But then that leaves Ryan Graves exposed and Colorado is going to want Graves to be protected. So to go around this, the Avs will ask E.J. to waive his clause, thus exposing himself to be potentially picked by Seattle next summer. E.J. should have no problem agreeing to this. Why? Well, it’s very very unlikely that he’d be picked by Seattle anyway. He’ll be 33 at the time of the expansion draft next summer and the Avs will likely have a number of better, younger options for Seattle to pick (other than an aging defenseman), i.e., the possibility of guys like J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, Vlad Kamenev, etc. being available to Seattle would be a much more attractive option.

For the second part of your question, will the Avs ask Seattle to take E.J. by offering picks and prospects in a trade? I doubt it.

Unfortunately, I doubt they will be. I could see teams offering vouchers for next season’s games (that is, if fans are even allowed in arenas next year). The NHL wants to keep your money, there’s no hiding that.

More on that here.

I think Logan O’Connor will definitely get a pay raise for next year. I’ve always seen OC as the cheaper replacement for Matt Nieto or Colin Wilson. O’Connor plays a solid fourth-line guy and is one of the hardest forecheckers and penalty killers since his days at the University of Denver. If you watch him play, “effort” is probably the best adjective to describe him.

He also plays on the Colorado Eagles’ top PK unit and he thrives. Penalty kill is something that has been a bit of an issue for the past few years for the Avalanche, so OC’s skillset can’t be undersold. His first year in the pros last season, he led the Eagles with five short-handed goals and finished with 19 goals and 42 points in 64 games.

He’s a homegrown product who went undrafted out of DU, earned a tryout with the Avs, made the team and has been crushing it in Loveland for the past two seasons. He’s got a story that fans have fallen in love with and Joe would be silly to let him walk. So with his entry-level contract expiring this year, I’d expect OC to garner a small pay-raise. I’d say it’ll be a two-way deal for one to two years at $1.25 million each season.


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