The semi-annual NHL general manager meetings wrapped up in Florida on Wednesday, and with it came a slew of tasty morsels of news that could change the league in the near future.
The first news was welcome news for most teams snug up against the current $73 million salary cap. The league told GMs this week that the cap is expected to rise by about $2-3 million next season. Not a huge change, but a change.
Bill Daly says the NHL's salary cap is projected to be $75.5M-$76M next season, but adds it will depend on inflator negotiations with NHLPA.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 8, 2017
Top of mind, of course, are the futures of bye weeks and the NHL’s participation in the 2018 Olympics. So let’s run them down.
Bye Weeks: Split down the middle
Currently, one or two teams get one week off between January and the first week of March. No more than two are off at a time. Teams hate this format, since it disrupts momentum for their clubs while the other teams keep churning. NHL teams have dismal records in their first games out of the bye week.
So the NHL seems to be nearing a solution:
The NHL is looking at changing bye week to having 15 teams off at one time, 16 the next. First two games would be vs. teams coming off bye.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 8, 2017
This seems to be the best of both worlds. Teams are on a more level playing field as far as rest and NHL doesn’t stop down an entire week of business for byes.
Speaking of ...
The 2018 Olympics seem pretty doubtful at this point
Anyone hoping for a change in the outlook from the NHL on this had to be disappointed in Gary Bettman’s response on Wednesday.
"There's absolutely nothing new," said Bettman on Wednesday morning. "And I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it's very disruptive on the season and there's somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject."
The NHL wants the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee to pay for most of, if not all, travel expenses for players heading to South Korea.
But let’s be honest: the NHL wants to go only if it’s profitable for them. And they’re interested in China as a more marketable venture. With that in mind, they are in negotiations with the IOC and IIHF to send players to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Players and their agents are going to put up a fight about 2018, though:
Speaking of international relations ...
Sweden says no to the AHL
Sweden’s hockey federation held a presentation to the league on Wednesday about player development.
Swedish officials had a polite but clear message for GMs today: leave their young players in Sweden to develop. They don't want them in AHL— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 8, 2017
The NHL might not reveal who teams protect for the expansion draft
They haven’t said they won’t yet, but the real news is that it’s not a foregone conclusion.
For those who have asked, here's an NHL spokesperson's statement on the public release of teams' protected lists for the expansion draft. pic.twitter.com/TiChf2lsDV— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) March 8, 2017
Honestly, that probably means they won’t. All of this fun fan speculation for nothing.
As if it’ll matter. NHL insiders will be leaking that information left and right so often that fans will be able to piece together those lists themselves.
Just release them.