Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Los Angeles Kings
Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick
Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Los Angeles Kings
Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick
The NHL seeks to hand out the 2020 Stanley Cup despite the COVID-19 pandemic, so with that, Tuesday ranks as a big day.
Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league’s return-to-play plan, which includes a 24-team playoff format involving two “hub cities.” Plenty of dates still need to be determined, but there are key windows, such as “early June” for resuming skating in small groups, and “no earlier than the first half of July” for formal training camps.
Bettman & Co. also announced how the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will work, and that “Phase 1” will take place on June 26.
East (City 1) Round Robin for Seeding in First Round (regular season overtime rules apply):
1. Boston Bruins
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Washington Capitals
4. Philadelphia Flyers
East (City 1) – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round
No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens
No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers
No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers
No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets
West (City 2) – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round
1. St. Louis Blues
2. Colorado Avalanche
3. Vegas Golden Knights
4. Dallas Stars
West (City 2) – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round
No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks
No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes
No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild
No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets
Draft lottery includes seven teams who aren’t part of 24-team playoff format (12 per conference listed in standings above) plus eight teams who lost in qualifying rounds. The latter are referred to as Teams “A-H.”
1. Red Wings – 18.5%
2. Senators – 13.5%
3. Senators – 11.5%
4. Kings – 9.5%
5. Ducks – 8.5%
6. Devils – 7.5%
7. Sabres – 6.5%
8. Team A – 6%
9. Team B – 5%
10. Team C – 3.5%
11. Team D – 3%
12. Team E – 2.5%
13. Team F – 2%
14. Team G – 1.5%
15. Team H – 1%
*rankings based on points percentage (lowest to highest in this case) as of March 11
“Phase 1” of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery is scheduled for June 26. The NHL currently plans “Phase 2” — involving teams who lost during the qualifying round, aka “Teams A-H” — to take place between the qualifying round and the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For a detailed look at the complex ins and outs of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, including how the first three “draws” work for the top three picks, click here.
Now that we know the NHL’s Return to Play format, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the 2019-20 regular season is considered over. That means all records and stats are final.
But what about those eight Qualifying Round series? That discussion is on-going, but if they were to count they would be considered playoff statistics.
That means we have a definitive answer to some regular season awards.
• Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak share the Rocket Richard Trophy with 48 goals. It’s be the ninth win for the Capitals captain and first for the Bruins forward. This is the third time the award will be shared and first since Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby tied with 51 goals in 2009-10.
• Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl wins his first Art Ross Trophy with 110 points. He was the only player to reach the 100-point mark and finished 13 points ahead of teammate Connor McDavid, who hit his jersey number, 97. Draisaitl also led the league with 67 assists and in posts/crossbars hit with 14.
• The Bruins are the 2019-20 Presidents’ Trophy winners. They led the league with 100 points at the time of the March 12 pause and also own the best points percentage (.714) among all NHL teams. This is the third time they’ve won the award and first since the 2013-14 season.
• Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak will share the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed since they both played at least 25 games. The tandem allowed 167 goals in 70 games played (2.39 goals allowed per game).
• Ovechkin will denied a ninth 50-goal season. The Capitals had 13 games remaining on their schedule.
• McDavid will fall short of his fourth-straight 100-point season. Artemi Panarin (95), David Pastrnak (95), and Nathan MacKinnon (93) were all primed to hit 100 points for the first time in their careers.
• The Sabres will miss the playoffs for the ninth straight season. They played their last game on March 9, meaning it could be a very long off-season if we’re not seeing a 2020-21 season begin until November or December, at the earliest.
• Oh, what could have been for the Sabres. According to the NHL on NBC research team, if Buffalo had beat Montreal in regulation on March 12 (the day of the NHL pause), they would have jumped the Canadiens in terms of points percentage and would be set to play the Penguins.
• Detroit owns the top odds (18.5%) in the first lottery draw for the No. 1 overall pick.
• Finally, David Rittich of the Flames is your shootout king with a 6-0 record and only two goals allowed on 21 shots against.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has ownership’s backing to return for a fourth season despite overseeing a team that will miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year, team president and co-owner Kim Pegula told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Acknowledging the decision might be unpopular among some fans, Pegula said she and her husband, Terry, are confident in the job the GM has done. And while the plan all along was to retain Botterill before the NHL season was paused in March because of the pandemic, Pegula said it is even more important to do so now given the continuity he provides entering an uncertain and extended offseason.
“He’s our GM. Our plan is to continue with him,” Pegula said in a Zoom interview.
“I realize, maybe it’s not popular with the fans, but we have to do the things that we feel are right,” she said. “We have a little bit more information than maybe a fan does, some inner workings that we see some positives in.”
That doesn’t mean the Pegulas are satisfied, given the Sabres finished 13th in the Eastern Conference and couldn’t even qualify for the NHL’s expanded playoff format featuring the top 12 teams in each conference. The Sabres’ playoff drought is the league’s longest active streak.
“Believe me, I don’t think anyone knows the frustrations more than Terry and I do,” Pegula said. “Coach and Jason know they’ve got to show not only us, but they’ve got to show it to the fans. And they know that. They understand that.”
The Sabres’ offseason officially began with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announcing the league was going forward with the expanded playoff format. With a 30-31-8 record, Buffalo missed out on qualifying by the slimmest of margins: Montreal clinched the East’s final berth with 71 points in 71 games (.500), just ahead of Buffalo, which had 68 points in 69 games (.493).
The order could have been switched had the season not been postponed March 12, when the Sabres were in Montreal preparing to play the Canadiens.
Pegula backed the NHL’s playoff format, even though it cost the Sabres.
“Listen, we should’ve won another game or two back in the day. We didn’t. So that’s no fault of any other club. That’s on us,” she said. “Although I don’t like the way it concluded, but it’s the best thing for the league to conclude the season.”
Botterill and the Pegulas became the focus of fan criticism over the course of a season in which the Sabres experienced numerous peaks and valleys under first-year coach Ralph Krueger.
After getting off to a 9-2-1 start, the Sabres then went 2-8-2. The Sabres lost six in a row before a 3-2 shootout win over Washington on March 9, their final game.
The Sabres showed signs of playing with more structure and efficiency under Krueger, and yet still encountered stretches of inconsistency as a result of poor goaltending and a lack of secondary scoring.
Led by captain Jack Eichel’s career-best 36 goals, he, Sam Reinhart and rookie Victor Olofsson accounted for 78 of Buffalo’s 193 goals scored. Forward Jeff Skinner struggled in a second-line role by finishing with 14 goals and 23 points a season after signing an eight-year, $72 million contract.
Botterill enters an offseason in which he can finally begin reshaping a roster of over-priced and under-performing players. The Sabres were estimated to have more than $35 million available under the salary cap this offseason, though that projection will change with the cap expected to remain flat or potentially constrict due to lost revenue.
In Botterill’s defense, he inherited a disjointed mix of a team put together by his predecessor, Tim Murray. The Sabres farm system also lacked NHL-ready depth as a result of a series of poor drafts and questionable trades.
Botterill still made several missteps, starting with his first coaching hire of Phil Housley, who was fired two seasons into his tenure.
Botterill has also taken a brunt of criticism for getting little in return in trading unhappy center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in July 2018.
Neither of the three skaters acquired by Buffalo in the trade have made much of an impact at the NHL level. Forward Patrik Berglund abruptly left the Sabres a few months into his first season and had his contract terminated by the team.
While there are still details to work out, the NHL made key return-to-play announcements on Tuesday. The highlights include: how the 24-team playoff format works, potential choices for two “hub cities,” and information on the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.
This post revolves around the 24-team playoff format and hub cities. Click here for more on the NHL’s return-to-play procedures for Phase 2.
One of the most important bits of new information is that NHL aims for formal training camps “no earlier than the first half of July.” We’ll get to that, and more, below.
Shortly after the pandemic pause, the NHL entered “Phase 1” of a return-to-play plan: players and staff practicing self-quarantining. The NHL shared the framework for the other return-to-play phases:
Phase 1: Pause and self-quarantine. Regular season considered over. The NHL instituted the pandemic pause on March 12, with the regular season marked as ending as of March 11. The top 12 teams from each conference enter the 24-team playoff format, with positioning based on points percentage.
Phase 2: Noncontact skating for players in small groups at team facilities. The hopeful starting date for Phase 2 is early June. Again, this post covers the key points; if you want to read the 22-page NHL document, have at it.
Phase 3: Formal training camps starting “no earlier than the first half of July.”
Phase 4: 24-team playoff (including seeding games, play-in rounds) must still be determined.
The NHL also shared details on the two “hub cities” setup, including potential host cities:
– Chicago, IL
– Columbus, OH
– Dallas, TX
– Edmonton, AB
– Las Vegas, NV
– Los Angeles, CA
– Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
– Pittsburgh, PA
– Toronto, ON
– Vancouver, BC
* Each Conference is assigned a “hub” city with secure hotels, arena, practice facilities and in-market transportation.
* Teams will be limited to 50 personnel in the “hub” city with only a small number of support staff permitted to enter the event areas.
* Timing and sites will be determined at a future date and will be dependent on COVID-19 conditions, testing ability and government regulations.
The NHL shared the “competitive format” for the 24-team playoff setup in its return-to-play announcement. As you can see, “the round robin” pertains to the seeding for the top four teams in each conference. The “qualifying round” has previously been referred to as a “play-in” round. City 1 represents Eastern Conference teams, while City 2 will include the West.
* In each Conference, teams seeded by points percentage.
Round Robin: The top 4 teams play for First Round seeding (regular-season overtime rules in effect)
Qualifying Round: The remaining 8 teams play best-of-5 series to advance to the First Round (playoff overtime rules in effect)
First Round and Second Round: Format (seeding vs. bracket) and series lengths to be determined
Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final: Best-of-7 series
* The winners from the Qualifying Round play the top 4 seeds in the First Round. Individual First Round series matchups remain to be determined.
City 1 – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round
City 1 – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round
#5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens
#6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. #11 New York Rangers
#7 New York Islanders vs. #10 Florida Panthers
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets
City 2 – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round
City 2 – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round
#5 Edmonton Oilers vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks
#6 Nashville Predators vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes
#7 Vancouver Canucks vs. #10 Minnesota Wild
#8 Calgary Flames vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets