Marian Hossa

Hockey Hall of Fame postpones 2020 induction

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The Hockey Hall of Fame has postponed its 2020 induction because of the pandemic. The ceremony was to have taken place Nov. 16 in Toronto.

The 2020 class was announced in June and featured forward Jarome Iginla, winger Marian Hossa, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, Canadian women’s goaltender Kim St. Pierre and longtime general manager Ken Holland.

The Hall said Monday it will discuss rescheduling plans on Oct. 29. Chairman Lanny McDonald said the most likely scenario is to have the ceremony in November 2021, either by waiving the 2021 election or combining the 2020 and 2021 classes. He said a virtual induction ceremony was ruled out.

NHL Power Rankings: Teams hit hardest by flat $81.5M salary cap

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As focused as NHL teams are on the present with the ambitious return to play, the CBA extension introducing a flat salary cap for 2020-21 leaves GMs (and fans) with plenty to think about.

Sure, there are NHL teams who can take advantage of a flat salary cap. That’s a post for another day — maybe a future edition of PHT’s power rankings?

But, overall, there are plenty of NHL contenders and hopefuls who are sweating that flat salary cap far more than there are those ready to circle like vultures. At minimum, the flat NHL salary cap presents huge obstacles for 2020-21. The ripple effects of COVID-19 could affect multiple seasons, especially if the world continues to struggle to contain the coronavirus.

Let’s power rank the five NHL teams hit the hardest by the flat $81.5 million salary cap, then. While the larger future will be considered, these rankings weigh the offseason heading into 2020-21 most heavily.

Frankly, plenty of teams will sweat this situation, so the honorable mentions section is quite robust.

[At least there’s the NHL return-to-play schedule to look forward to.]

Power rankings: 5 NHL teams hit hardest by the flat salary cap

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

Even in an ideal, pandemic-free world, the Lightning would need to tighten their belts. This franchise is a lot like the dynasty-era Blackhawks when it comes to perennial cap crunches, only they sadly don’t have the jewelry to show for it. But with the NHL salary cap flat at $81.5M? That belt-tightening morphs into the potential for painful surgeries.

After all, with about $76M already devoted to 15 players (give or take), things would be snug. Then you factor in talented RFAs Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev deserving significant raises, and … yikes. It’s the sort of thing that might make you want to jet ski out of town.

(Cirelli can’t wait tables forever.)

Infomercial voice: But that’s not all.

To make matters worse, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois faces potential hurdles in no-trade/no-movement clauses. Via Cap Friendly, supporting cast members such as Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, and Alex Killorn all own such clauses. So, it’s not just about who you’d want to move out (as painful as that already would be), but it’s also about who you could convince to leave.

Even by their frequently cap-challenged standards, the Lightning have their work cut out for them.

2. St. Louis Blues

The Lightning and Blues could really be a 1a/1b situation.

Much like Tampa Bay was expecting struggles even with a cap increase, the Blues likely knew that it would be difficult to keep Alex Pietrangelo. With about $79.45M devote to their roster, how could St. Louis afford a Norris-level defenseman like Pietrangelo? Heck, how can they make it work to keep underrated RFA blueliner Vince Dunn?

Also like the Lightning, it might come down to the Blues convincing players to waive clauses, or finding snug fits to places they’d accept.

Maybe the Blues could make it work by moving a combination of Alexander Steen, Jake Allen, and/or a more painful loss like Brayden Schenn or Jaden Schwartz. Or maybe the Blues lose Pietrangelo, still need to make an uncomfortable decision or two, and need to find a way to stay afloat?

Good thing they won at least one Stanley Cup, eh?

3. Arizona Coyotes

It’s OK if you’re doing a double-take at the Coyotes now. Aren’t they supposed to be a team barely making it to the floor? Weren’t they putting Chris Pronger and Pavel Datsyuk on their cap just to get there?

Well, over the years, the Coyotes have quietly been getting more and more expensive. They haven’t always got what they paid for, but this isn’t a wholly cheap team. (Although there’s still a Marian Hossa here or there on LTIR.)

Cap Friendly places Arizona’s cap allocation at almost $80M devoted to 17 players.

And that’s without Taylor Hall. Trading for Hall represented a statement that the Coyotes want to be taken seriously. Making him more than a rental would really cement that, but could Arizona really make that work — assuming Hall would return?

The Coyotes might deal with many of the same trade clause headaches as others (Phil Kessel, Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Carl Soderberg), although bribing someone to take on Derek Stepan‘s $6.5M could be key. It may not be easy to find an oasis in this salary cap desert.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs are like a family trying to divvy up a pizza pie. You already had some hungry siblings who were going to leave little more than toppings and crust (see: expensive stars Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner). Now concerned parent/GM Kyle Dubas must deal with being delivered a medium pizza instead of the extra large he was expecting before the flat NHL salary cap.

At least in this coming offseason, he doesn’t have too many overly important mouths to feed.

(Yes, that lengthy pizza parallel is my hunger staining this conversation like grease on a pizza box.)

The flat salary cap hurts the Maple Leafs hardest in trying to make more aggressive moves toward improving. Maybe they can stem the tide of losing flawed-but-featured defensemen Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci. But will they get better in hoping internal options like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren can sink, not swim? That remains to be seen.

But Dubas would also probably be wise to get proactive, because the bill is coming soon for key players. If the Maple Leafs want to keep one or more of Frederik Andersen (contract runs through 2020-21) and Morgan Rielly (through 2021-22), it will probably mean making some painful trades during the offseason.

The long-term outlook for the Maple Leafs is bumpy. They’re placed slightly lower in these specific power rankings because other teams face even more immediate concerns, though.

5. New York Islanders

Unlike others on this list, the Islanders aren’t already almost bumping their heads on that flat NHL salary cap ceiling. That said, their almost cozy-looking space (Cap Friendly puts them at about $73.4M pledged to 19 players) could get claustrophobic quickly.

Most importantly, the Islanders need to reach a deal with pending RFA star Mathew Barzal. Back about 20 years ago (OK, March), Lou Lamoriello said that the Islanders would match an offer sheet for Barzal. That’s comforting for Islanders fans who may still smart from losing John Tavares, but that doesn’t mean Barzal will be cheap. Frankly, his talent and importance to the Islanders probably justify a salary far exceeding their cap space.

Even at a discount, the Islanders won’t have much space to retain another important player in RFA defenseman Ryan Pulock. They’ll probably need to find a way to move some shaky contracts (such as those of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk), which is easier said than done, even for a master of the dark GM arts like Lamoriello.

Some teams below might technically face more immediate, in-your-face challenges. On the other hand, the uncomfortable thought for the Islanders is that they might face big bills with diminishing returns.

Quick thoughts on other teams likely to be hit hardest by flat NHL salary cap

You might believe that others deserve a mention, so feel free to chime in via the comments. A few quick hits before we go:

  • The Boston Bruins might rank as the biggest honorable mention. Even if you disagree, you’d likely admit that some pain may come. If they keep Torey Krug around, then Don Sweeney deserves a raise.
  • Then again, the Bruins aren’t alone in the honorable mentions. Much has been made of the Vancouver Canucks, who may feel enough of a squeeze to explain those Brock Boeser trade rumors, even if someone else ends up being the one standing at the end of flat NHL salary cap musical chairs.
  • The Washington Capitals face a conundrum with Braden Holtby, for sure. They also must try to figure out the future for Alex Ovechkin, whose lengthy contract wasn’t as lifetime as it seemed (it ends after 2020-21).
  • The Chicago Blackhawks are required to have cap issues. That’s simply the rule we must all abide by. In the latest iteration, it’s difficult to tell what might happen with their goaltending situation.
  • Again, this might be fodder for a future post, yet opportunistic rebuilding teams could feast if they’re creative. Why not take some short-term pain in the form of shaky contracts to earn long-term gains in future assets, particularly if you don’t expect your team to be very good anyway? A little further down the line, the flat/barely moving NHL salary cap could be a huge boon to the Seattle expansion team, too.

Who else will feel the crunch? Would you rank honorable mentions in the top five, or bump others out? Do tell.

MORE NHL POWER RANKINGS FROM PHT:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Iginla headlines 2020 Hall class as 4th Black player elected

Jarome Iginla headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 after being elected Wednesday in his first year of eligibility.

Iginla will be the fourth Black player inducted after Grant Fuhr, women’s hockey pioneer Angela James and Willie O’Ree. Iginla and Fuhr are the only Black NHL players enshrined for their on-ice accomplishments, while O’Ree was chosen in the builder category in 2018 for breaking the league’s color barrier 60 years earlier.

The longtime Calgary Flames captain was the first Black player to lead the NHL in goals and points and was the first Black athlete in any sport to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. A first-generation Canadian whose father is Nigerian and mother is American, Iginla owns arguably the biggest assist in Canada’s history of international hockey. He passed the puck to Sidney Crosby for Crosby’s “golden goal” at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Iginla is joined in the 2020 class by winger Marian Hossa, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, Canadian women’s star Kim St. Pierre and longtime general manager Ken Holland.

In addition to two Olympic gold medals in three appearances, Iginla won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy twice as the NHL’s top goal-scorer and in 2003 won the Art Ross Trophy for the most points and Ted Lindsay Award as MVP voted by fellow players. He also won the Canadian junior Memorial Cup twice and world juniors, world championship and World Cup of Hockey once each.

A power forward on the wing with a prolific scoring touch, Iginla had 625 goals and 675 assists for 1,300 points in 1,554 regular-season NHL games for the Flames, Avalanche, Penguins and Kings. He had 68 points in 81 playoff games and most notably led Calgary to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.

“This selection is hard to believe and makes me reflect and look back on my career,” Iginla said. “I was always just trying to make the NHL and this recognition means a lot to me and my family.”

Hossa was also elected in his first year of eligibility and joins 2015 inductee Chris Pronger as the only players to go into the hall while still under contract. Like Pronger, Hossa qualified because he hasn’t played in three years and retired in 2018 because of a skin disorder.

A skilled, two-way winger, Hossa won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He reached the final two other times, had 149 points in 205 playoff games and finished with 1,134 points in 1,309 games with the Senators, Thrashers, Penguins, Red Wings and Blackhawks.

Lowe and Wilson had to wait much longer to get in after retiring in the 1990s. Holland made it in the builder category after winning the Cup three times with Detroit, and St. Pierre will be the seventh woman in the hall.

The 18-member selection committee voted remotely for the first time because of travel difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Those living in the Toronto area met in a conference room to determine the inductees, who got congratulatory calls from chairman of the board Lanny McDonald.

It’s unclear if the hall will hold its traditional in-person induction ceremony in November. The NHL is still working on trying to resume its season after suspending play in March, with the playoffs potentially extending into October and delaying the start of next season until December or January.

Hall of Fame waits for Lowe, Wilson come to an end

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The waits for were long for both Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson. But after receiving Wednesday phone calls from Lanny MacDonald, the two longtime NHL defensemen are Hall of Famers.

Lowe, eligible since 2001, and Wilson, eligible since 1996, were announced as part of the 2020 class along with Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kim St. Pierre, and Ken Holland.

“It’s not only that you have to get 14 of 18 votes, but it’s also sometimes who you may be up against when you’re up that year,” said MacDonald, the Hall’s Chairman. “Sometimes, it’s timing. Regardless of if they go in like Marian and Jarome, it’s richly deserved.”

When Lowe saw MacDonald was calling, he figured it wasn’t say he didn’t get in. 

“It’s all surreal for me,” he said.

Lowe is the seventh player from those great 1980s Oilers teams to make it to the Hall of Fame. After watching Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey get inducted, he never thought he would join that group.

“I’ve never seen myself as a Hall of Famer,” Lowe said. “For me, the Hall of Fame was Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau, Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier. Although I know there are players of my ilk in the Hall of Fame and it’s a place for everyone, I don’t want to say I was disappointed in the years I didn’t get selected, but I certainly understood you have to put up more points, win awards. 

“My dream was always to win Stanley Cups and the Hall of Fame was something I never dreamed about.”

Lowe finished his NHL career with six Stanley Cup rings between the Oilers and Rangers. In 1,254 games he scored 84 times and recorded 431 points. Internationally, he represented Canada at the 1982 World Championship and the 1984 Canada Cup.

[2020 HHOF class: Iginla, Hossa, Wilson, St-Pierre, Lowe, Holland]

Wilson had the longer wait and since retiring has made an impact as Sharks general manager for nearly two decades. He’s going into the Hall of Fame in the player category, a day he didn’t think was coming.

“It was an unexpected call,” he said.  

Wilson played 16 NHL seasons, finishing with 237 goals and 827 points. He’s the Blackhawks all-time leader in goals and points by a defenseman and led the their blue liners in scoring for 10 seasons. His 0.81 points-per-game average is ninth all-time among defenseman who played at least 650 games.

Individually, Wilson was voted a 1981-82 First Team All-Star and won the Norris Trophy in 1982. He was also a finalist for the award four other times. Like Lowe, he was on Canada’s blue line for the 1984 Canada Cup.

“This game has been so good to me, and all the things I’ve been fortunate to do and the journey I’ve been on, it was very unexpected,” he said.

“It’s worth the wait. That’s an understatement.”

The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tentatively set to take place Monday, Nov. 16 in Toronto.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class: Iginla, Hossa, Wilson, St-Pierre, Lowe, Holland

2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Iginla Lowe St-Pierre Wilson Hossa
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The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class of inductees on Wednesday. The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class includes: Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson, Kim St-Pierre and Ken Holland.

Yes, this means that both Iginla and Hossa are first-ballot Hall of Famers. Kim St-Pierre represents the sole woman inducted in this class (as many as two can be added each go-around), while Holland is being inducted under the “builder” category.

Inevitably, people will discuss snubs. Many will point to Daniel Alfredsson and Alexander Mogilny. There are plenty of women who are deserving, too, including Jennifer Botterill.

Both Iginla and Hossa make Hockey Hall of Fame on first (2020) ballot

No surprise with Jarome Iginla

Iginla spent 1,219 of his 1,554 NHL games as a member of the Flames. After breaking into the league in 1996, “Iggy” went on to score 625 goals, record 1,300 points, win two Rocket Richard Trophies, the King Clancy, the Art Ross, and the Ted Lindsay Award. The winger was a six-time All-Star.

Iginla managed two 50-goal seasons, and passed the 40-goal mark on four occasions. The power forward also distinguished himself before reaching the NHL, winning two Memorial Cups with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. On the international scene, he represented Canada at various levels, winning two World Junior Championships, one World Championship, one World Cup of Hockey, and two Olympic gold medals. Iginla set up Sidney Crosby‘s “golden goal” in overtime during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Marian Hossa recognized as a two-way star

Hossa joins Iginla as a first-ballot Hockey Hall of Famer.

Hossa won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, and was a playoff fixture, becoming the first NHL player to reach three consecutive Stanley Cup Final series with three different teams. So you might also consider his playoff production (149 points in 205 games) while noting his regular season accolades (525 goals and 1,134 points in 1,309 contests).

Hossa represented Slovakia at the World Championships eight times, Olympic Games four times, and played in two World Cup of Hockey tournaments — once for his home country and the other for Team Europe. In addition to those Stanley Cup victories, Hossa also won a Memorial Cup.

One knock against Hossa was a lack of individual awards, but success followed the two-way star.

[MORE: Who the PHT staff would have inducted into the 2020 HHOF]

Kim St-Pierre adds another deserving woman to HHOF

There are a lot of gold medals in St-Pierre’s trophy case.

Inside you’ll find three from the Olympics, five from the World Championships, and one from the Four Nations Cup. The netminder played 83 times for Canada, helping them win 64 times with 29 shutouts. She earned best goalie honors at the 2002 Olympics, as well World Championships in 2001 and 2004. St-Pierre also won the Clarkson Cup twice with Montreal Stars of the CWHL, and was named the league’s top goaltender two seasons in a row.

Wilson and Lowe get into Hockey Hall of Fame after long waits

Doug Wilson an easy case

Wilson scored 237 goals, 827 points as a defenseman, winning the 1982 Norris Trophy during his impressive and underrated career.

The current Sharks GM was an eight-time All-Star, and won Canada Cup gold. His name has sprung up in Hall of Fame discussions over the last few years, even after having been on the ballot for over two decades. He played during an era dominated by Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque, but examine his career and it was a pretty solid one. He finished his career in the top 20 in points by a defenseman and top 10 in points per game.

[MORE: Hall of Fame waits for Lowe, Wilson come to an end]

A fun piece of trivia via Sean McIndoe of The Athletic (sub required) that bolsters his case: “Here’s the complete list of players who both won a Norris Trophy (peak) and finished in the top 25 all-time in defenseman scoring (longevity), but haven’t been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Doug Wilson, and that’s it.”

As a side note, Wilson is putting together a decent Hockey Hall of Fame case with his GM work, alone.

Kevin Lowe’s best case — his trophy case

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson laid out defensive defenseman Kevin Lowe’s Hall of Fame case: he was the “conscience” of the Gretzky-era Oilers. Overall, Lowe won five Stanley Cups with Edmonton, and then one more with the Rangers.

“You look at Kevin’s Stanley Cups, the leadership on our team, the respect of all the players … that certainly would give me all sorts of statistical and psychological information to be in the Hall,” Glen Sather said. “You don’t have to pile up points to be a great player.

Lowe’s offensive stats won’t impress, but people stumped for his responsible game. It finally worked.

Lowe also served as a “builder” with the Oilers. Many would agree that it’s probably not the first point you’d argue for when saying Lowe deserved to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, though.

Ken Holland rounds out 2020 Hall of Fame class as a builder

The timing felt a bit surprising for Holland to be inducted as a builder. But, in the grand scheme of things, it was probably a matter of time.

The Detroit Red Wings won four Stanley Cups with Holland in prominent positions (one as assistant GM, three as GM). The Red Wings also won 10 Central Division titles with Holland at the helm, not to mention four Presidents’ Trophies.

Holland can still add to his resume if he can bring Connor McDavid and the Oilers to additional glories, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.