NHL awards preview for 2020-21 NHL season

Posted 18 hours ago | By Adam Gretz

With the 2020-21 NHL season getting underway it is time to preview some of the top contenders for some of the league’s major awards, including the MVP, Vezina, Norris, and Jack Adams.1 of 25

Hart Trophy (MVP): Nathan MacKinnonColorado Avalanche

Hart Trophy (MVP): Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

He has been close, finishing as the runner-up on two different occasions and sixth one other time, but has yet to actually win the MVP award. Could this be the year it happens? The Avalanche are going to be contenders and MacKinnon is a leading candidate to finish as the top scorer in the league, something that always puts a player at the top of the MVP discussion. 


Hart Trophy (MVP) Connor McDavidEdmonton Oilers

Hart Trophy (MVP) Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

As long as he stays healthy McDavid is going to be a contender for the scoring title and the MVP. He has finished in the top-five of the MVP race in each of the past four years and in the top-two of the scoring race in each of those years. He already has one MVP award and is looking to join an exclusive club of players to win it again. Only 18 players have won it more than one time, and only two active players (Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin). The Oilers could be good enough to put him back in that discussion. 

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NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement on 56-game season

Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Zach Leach | Last updated 12/18/20

A resolution may finally be within reach for the league and its players on a format for the 2020-21 season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports this evening that the NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement on the terms of season, which would include a 56-game regular season schedule.

Of course, no agreement between the sides can be finalized until it is approved by each independently first. On that note, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the NHLPA and its player reps are expected to meet tonight while the NHL Board of Governors will meet this weekend.

Among the details trickling in are as follows:

  • The league will start on January 13 as hoped, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. Lavoie adds that the agreed-upon plan does include an all-Canadian division, as expected, though concerns exist about the logistics of cross-province travel.
  • TSN’s Frank Seravalli echoes that January 13 start date, though he opines that all dates could be subject to change. That includes training camp start dates as well, which he expects to be December 30 for the seven 2019-20 non-playoff teams and January 3 for all others.
  • Seravalli also reports that rosters are expected to remain at 23 players, but that each team may carry a taxi squad of four to six players who will travel and practice with the team, but will be paid their AHL salaries and will not count against the salary cap.
  • Seravalli adds that all players will be given the right to opt out of the season for personal or familial health concerns and that teams will have the decision of whether or not to toll the contract.
  • Friedman notes that salaries will not be pro-rated despite the shortened season. He also confirms that thre will be no preseason exhibition games.
  • Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater reports that the tentative plan is for every team to play out of their home building this season, at least at the outset, rather than playing in hub cities as some had speculated.
  • With the league expected to be broken down into four realigned divisions without any conference alignment, Friedman reports that each division will produce four playoff teams and the postseason will be inter-division until four division winners become the semifinalists for the 2021 Stanley Cup.

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ECHL announces training camp, season schedule

Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Gavin Lee | Last updated 11/10/20

For NHL teams looking to get their prospects back on the ice in a competitive situation, the ECHL may soon be an option. The minor league announced Tuesday that training camps will open on Nov. 27 for all the teams that are starting their season on Dec. 11. The ECHL has split their league into two groups, with 13 teams beginning on Dec. 11 and the rest waiting until Jan. 15. The training camps for the latter group will open on Jan. 1.

The teams that will begin things later this month are Allen Americans, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Indy Fuel, Jacksonville Icemen, Kansas City Mavericks, Orlando Solar Bears, Rapid City Rush, South Carolina Stingrays, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies, Wheeling Nailers and Wichita Thunder. They will play a 72-game season.

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Report: NHL will play at least 48 regular-season games during 2020-21 season

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 11/2/20

The NHL is targeting a January start for the 2020-21 season. While we don’t know many details about the upcoming season, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski provided an update about the length of the upcoming campaign. 

Kaplan and Wyshynski report that the league will play at least 48 regular-season games next season and nothing less. Awarding the Stanley Cup ahead of the July Tokyo Olympics makes sense, but not necessary, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. 

“I think there is some flexibility if we were to choose that route. There’s a lot left to be played out on the Olympics front too,” Daly said. “We have models that extend past the Olympic time period. Those are alternatives that are on the table. I can’t tell you they’re the ones that are necessarily going to be pursued, but I think there’s some flexibility there.”

The NHL previously utilized a 48-game schedule for the 2012-13 shortened lockout campaign, but teams typically play 82 games during the regular season. 

Daly and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman still haven’t announced plans for fans to attend games, but that is their goal. According to Wyshynski, the league wants fans in the stands for the playoffs if state restrictions allow it. 

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Lightning’s Alex Killorn suspended for Game 3 after boarding violation

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 9/10/20

The NHL confirmed on Thursday that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn is suspended for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final versus the New York Islanders on Friday.

Roughly six minutes into Wednesday’s Game 2, Killorn delivered what the league referred to as a defenseless hit on New York forward Brock Nelson:

Killorn was issued a major penalty and game misconduct for the hit. It was the first of two controversial moments involving Nelson, who cleared concussion protocol and was permitted to remain in the game amid protests made by fans on Twitter:

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Lightning captain Steven Stamkos to miss entire Eastern Conference Final

Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors By Holger Stolzenberg | Last updated 9/6/20

There seems to be plenty of questions surrounding Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who has yet to make his playoff debut after undergoing core muscle surgery in early March and now has been listed as “unfit to play” with a lower-body injury. Now it looks like that if he will play in the playoffs it will have to be in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning and head coach Jon Cooper announced that Stamkos will miss the entire Eastern Conference Final due to his undisclosed injuries, adding that he will update that status if anything changes. There was plenty of hope that Stamkos might be ready to return to the team and supplement the offensive powerhouse Lightning against the stingy defense of the Islanders. However, that won’t happen here, and the Bolts will have to win the series without him if they have any hopes of him returning for the playoffs.

If or when he returns, however, The Athletic’s Joe Smith believes that Stamkos will likely begin on the Lightning’s second line with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli as they likely won’t want to break up the impressive play of the first-round combo of Brayden PointOndrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov.

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Capitals fire head coach Todd Reirden after first-round playoff exit

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 8/23/20

After just two seasons with the Washington Capitals, it appears Todd Reirden is out as head coach of the club. 

The Capitals announced Sunday that they’ve relieved Reirden of his coaching duties, with senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan saying they have “higher expectations” for the team.  

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Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask opts out of NHL’s return to play

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 8/15/20

You could tell Tuukka Rask wasn’t himself from the moment exhibition games began in the NHL’s Toronto bubble.

The Boston Bruins goaltender has decided to opt out of the NHL’s return to play, the club announced ahead of Saturday’s Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

His decision to opt out comes after comments he made following Thursday’s Game 2 defeat. Rask stated that it didn’t really feel like the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that he was just trying to have fun and wasn’t focusing on the results. 

Through two games against the Hurricanes, Rask gave up many rebounds and couldn’t seem to control the puck. In four games in the NHL’s bubble, the 33-year-old went 1-3-0 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, which isn’t up to par for the Vezina-nominated netminder. 

Now Boston will turn to Jaroslav Halak, who is just as capable of stealing games for the Bruins as Rask. Halak, who went 18-6-6 during the regular season, also has some pretty solid playoff numbers. The 35-year-old has a 2.45 GAA and .922 SV% through the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his career. 

It’s likely that AHL goaltender Dan Vladar backs up Halak for the remainder of the playoffs, and the B’s appear to have been ready for this situation. 

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Boston Bruins-Carolina Hurricanes Game 1 postponed

Originally posted on Pro Hockey Rumors | By Zach Leach | Last updated 8/11/20

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets were locked in a duel for the ages on Tuesday night, playing into a fifth overtime in a game that began at 3 p.m. ET – the fourth-longest game of all time. As a result of this historic game and the unprecedented circumstances of the bubble postseason, Game 1 of the Boston Bruins-Carolina Hurricanes series that was supposed to begin at 8 p.m. ET has now been postponed. The league has announced that the two teams will square off at 11:00am ET on Wednesday, which should allow for the Washington Capitals-New York Islanders game to proceed as scheduled at 3 p.m. ET.

With Game 2 of Bruins-Hurricanes still scheduled for Thursday night, the teams will open their first-round series with back-to-back games. As with every series this year, there is already a back-to-back scheduled for Games 5 and 6 on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. As a result, Boston and Carolina could end up playing six games in nine days in this series. Backup goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and James Reimer could very well see a start or two in this series.

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End of an era? Canadiens eliminate Penguins from playoffs

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 8/7/20

If Friday’s result inside the Toronto NHL bubble site was the end of the era, it finished with more of a whimper than a bang.

The Montreal Canadiens, the lowest seed (No. 12) in the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Qualifying Round, defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 5) 2-0 in Game 4 to close the series out and send Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pens back to Pennsylvania. 

Montreal won the series 3-1.

Friday’s affair was largely missable for a neutral viewer, as Pittsburgh was unable to break the Canadiens down and seemed to grow frustrated and disinterested throughout 55 minutes of scoreless hockey. With 4:11 remaining in the contest, Paul Byron slid a pass out of the reach of Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry to teammate Artturi Lehkonen, who delivered the game and series winner:

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