NHL News: Vancouver roadblock to Canadian division, key dates for free agency, and more

canucks covid
Canucks home (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press via AP)

British Columbia stands in the way of a Canadian Division this upcoming season. Local health officials in the province refuse to budge and now NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly is directly involved.

Recently it was believed that due to Canada’s stringent restrictions all seven Canadian teams would move to the U.S. and play out of a hub. The other Provinces have worked with the league on protocols save for the home of the Canucks.

Hope for the Canadian division, in Canada

Hope remains to allow each of the seven teams in Canada to play out of their home buildings. Even Ontario health officials have been difficult to deal with. According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, all seven teams could play out a hub in Edmonton.

There’s talk now the league is studying the possibility of moving all seven teams into a hub in Edmonton while waiting for the numbers of COVID-19 to start to fall so the Canadian clubs can get clearance to play in their own rinks. But, you can be certain, there will be push back from the owners and the players if the season starts in hubs.

Ottawa Sun

Should it just be Vancouver, British Columbia that remains an issue, a league executive told the Ottawa Sun that Canucks alone could play out of Edmonton.

New Key Dates for the 2020-21 season

NHL Canadian Division
Vancouver in RTP action (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Some key dates were widely reported late last night. Players who want to opt out can do so on 12/24 for non-RTP teams, and 12/27 for RTP teams. Remember, they will not be paid if they chose to opt-out due to non-medical reasons. And teams have the right to burn a year off their current contracts.

How about unsigned RFA’s? If Mathew Barzal and Pierre-Luc Dubois want to play this season, they need to sign by 2/11/21 or they are not eligible. And if you want to extend a player it can start on 3/12/21.

NHL free agency is set for July 28th which is just a few weeks off its normal date of July 1. This is your first sign that if all things go well, a return to a more normal 2021-22 schedule is likely.

Still no word on when the NHL trade deadline will be set.

Board of Governors vote today

Today, all team owners will review and vote on the tentative agreement at noon. The expectation is that it will be approved. Team executives and general managers will then be given the finer points of the agreement and get to work.

Expect a flurry of activity among free agents in the next few days. I even heard there may be a trade or two coming.