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Lightning Round: Live hockey returns to Florida

The Orlando Solar Bears began their training camp on Monday.

Scott Thomas Photography

On Monday the Orlando Solar Bears opened their 2020-21 training camp. Tracey will have more on that later this week, but one of the things that’s going to be interesting to watch is how many prospects the Tampa Bay Lightning and Syracuse Crunch have play for them in the upcoming months. So far, based on the camp roster the Solar Bears released on Sunday, and their subsequent updates, not many.

Of the four players that the Crunch assigned to Orlando on Monday, only Peter Abbandonato really skims the surface of being a prospect. While there are some contract hurdles that would have to be cleared for some of the top prospects, one of the main obstacles is likely to be the ECHL itself.

While it would seem that organizations would really want their young players to get some competitive ice time, and the ECHL would benefit from an influx of high-end talent (along with being the only game in town playing), they also have to make sure they are protecting their own players. Kicking aside a bunch of ECHL regulars for a temporary boost of talent could be detrimental to the league in the long run.

With several of their teams already shuttering the doors for the season, there are already a plethora of ECHL-level players that will be hoping to find another team to suit up for this season. Adding a bevy of AHL players to the glutted market wouldn’t be fair to the players who have supported the league for years.

What happens if the ECHL does fill out their roster spots with players from a higher-level league? The players will have to scramble to find leagues. Then, when the AHL does eventually fire back up and all of those skaters head back to Syracuse, Binghamton and Henderson, who will be left to play in the ECHL?

One exception that you might see would involve the goaltenders. Right now the Solar Bears appear to have two netminders in camp. It would be reasonable to see them add Spencer Martin or Chris Gibson (or both) to the roster just to get them some work, even if it’s not in-game action.

As nice as it would be to have Cal Foote, Taylor Raddysh or Alex Barre-Boulet back on the ice and playing meaningful games in December, it’s better that they hold off until the AHL does starts back. It will also prevent a scatter-shot approach to the players’ development. Having them all play together, and having the coaching staff being in one place to evaluate their performance is more important than a handful of extra games in what is most likely going to be a stop-and-start type of season.

Hockey Links

The Athletic put up a trade value series for the NHL. If you’re not familiar with the concept, they basically ranked players by their perceived trade returns. It’s just another way to put a best player type of list together without calling it a best player list. If you don’t subscribe this how Lightning players ranked:

Anthony Cirelli - 45th

Victor Hedman - 14th

Nikita Kucherov - 7th

Brayden Point - 6th

Connor McDavid was ranked number one, barely edging out Nathan MacKinnon. [The Athletic]

USA Hockey released their preliminary roster for the 2021 World Junior Championship, a tournament I give about a 60% chance of actually happening. As expected there are no Lightning prospects included, but overall it should be a rather competitive squad heading to Edmonton.

The QMJHL has extended its holiday break until the first of the year. Their season has been disjointed with travel restrictions and local ordinances causing a wide disparity of games played. For instance Halifax has played 16 games while Sherbrooke has only played 5 times. Shutting things down for a month will give them a chance to regroup and, if some of the restrictions ease up, maybe they can get things going again. [QMJHL]

It appears that all of the warm, fuzzy feelings between the NHL and the NHLPA have chilled along with the weather. Another report came out stating that the two sides haven’t spoken in more than a week, pretty much since the NHL proposed a new financial arrangement requiring more financial sacrifice on the players side. Oddly, it’s a bit more comforting to have the two sides bickering back-and-forth, it seems way more normal. [The Star]

Let’s say the two sides do work something out (I’m putting money on the players deferring more money, but escrow staying the same) and announce an agreement. Unlike during past labor disputes it’s not like they can fire up preseason training camps in a day or two. There will be a lag time as players return from overseas and under go their quarantines. The league will also have to deal with provinces and states ratcheting up their restrictions. For instance the San Jose Sharks may have to find a new home due to Santa Clara County’s new health protocols that ban all professional sports through at least December 21st. [SF Gate]

The trading card business is booming right now. Along with the boom, new collectors are running into issues some us long term card fiends are all too familiar with. For instance, stated odds for inserts and pack searchers. If an insert card is stated as one per twenty packs, buying twenty packs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get said insert card. That’s something folks raiding Tim Horton’s are finding out. It isn’t anything devious, it’s just the way things happen. [NY Post]

The Mannings are football royalty. Could Eli Manning’s kids be heading in another direction?