For some reason, when searched for draft related photos to headline this post, a picture of Vinny Prospal and Alex Cejka playing golf in 2005 popped up. Seems about right for these times, right? Anyway, the NHL announced a couple of things on Wednesday (or Tuesday, who knows, the days kind of run together right now).
Wednesday, yes it was Wednesday when the NHL announced that they had extended their recommended period of isolation for players and staff for an additional ten days. Their original self-isolation period was set to end this Friday. Since the season itself is on hiatus until at least May this doesn’t affect things that much. On the lighter side, it will probably lead to more videos of players working would with their significant others (and pets) or holding virtual training sessions on Instagram like Hayley Wikenheiser.
In the meantime the NHL seems to still be planning on chasing down all options in order to get at least a partial season completed sometime this summer. While their second announcement, the postponement of the combine, draft, and awards ceremony, seems like bad news at first blush, it also clears the month of June of their usual activities clearing it for actual hockey.
A summer tournament would definitely be interesting, and the NHL also asked its member clubs to provide arena availability through the month of August. Stretching the 2019-20 season that late into year does invite a host of issues ranging from ice conditions to player salaries and free agency. Just because they asked for the information doesn’t mean that they plan on playing that late, but it does give them another option to completing the season. It seems the league is indeed exploring all possible options to make it happen which is to be commended.
The Lightning are also to be commended. On Wednesday, via a video post featuring captain Steven Stamkos, they announced that the players are establishing a fund for the part time workers at Amalie Arena. Not only that, they are also donating 500,000 meal to Feeding Tampa Bay to help families in the area cope with the next few months. The players, and ownership’s, commitment to the community is fantastic.
Nobody knows what lies ahead. Nor is there precedent on how to bridge the gap from now until the time events start happening again. Some organizations are committed to paying their full time employees as normal, other clubs are taking a different approach.
There is still off-ice business to be conducted and some teams are continuing to sign players to deals for next season. The Predators signed Tommy Novack, a former third-round pick to an entry level deal while the Canadiens signed defenseman Gustav Olofsson to a one-year, two-way deal. Mattias Samuelsson, whose dad,Kjell, played one forgettable season with the Lightning, also inked an entry-level contract. He signed a three-year deal with Buffalo, bringing his Western Michigan career to an end.
As for the Lightning, they haven’t announced any new contracts for their prospects (remember any deal signed doesn’t start until next season so it doesn’t matter that they are at their 50 contract limit). The University of Minnesota did bid adieu to defenseman Ryan Zuhsdorf, a senior who is out of eligibility. The Lightning drafted him in the 5th round of the 2015 draft and hold his rights until August 15th, but as of this morning have not offered him a contract.
That about sums things up in the hockey world. Hang in there and keep washing your hands.