The NHL will enforce a maximum 26-inch paddle length on all goaltender's sticks during the 2013-14 season, according to Kevin Woodley of In Goal Magazine. Much attention has been paid to the shallower nets and shorter leg pads, but the league has also decided to enforce the paddle limit after overlooking the rule for several years.
Woodley writes that all goaltenders under the height of 6'6 will be required to have a paddle that remains under 26 inches in height. In the event that a goaltender breaks this rule, he will be suspended two games while the team is fined $25,000 and the equipment trainer is fined $1,000.
It remains unclear, but goaltenders over the height of six-foot-six are allowed some sort of variance on the maximum height of their paddle:
@mattbrigidi not sure if increase is two inches – Lehner thought so + evidently Lindback got it – but eqpt manager confirmed cut off is 6'6"— Kevin Woodley (@KevinisInGoal) October 3, 2013
The league notified players that the rule would be strictly enforced this year via memo on Sept. 5.
The extent of how many players are altered by this enforcement is unclear, via In Goal Magazine:
Estimates vary on the number of goaltenders that were using sticks with paddles longer than 26 inches. One NHL goalie coach pegged the number at "roughly half," while an industry insider, whose company makes NHL sticks for three different brands, said it was closer to 80 per cent.
Woodley writes that the change in paddle height can change a goaltender's balance point, which could isolate holes on the blocker side.
What this all amounts to is the possibility of increased scoring across the league. Through two nights of the season, 40 goals have been scored over the span of six games.