NHL injury report 2019-20: Who could return if season resumes?

The NHL season has been paused since March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A likely outcome for many teams if the season resumes is the return of players who were injured before the season was paused, drastically impacting the playoff push.

For example, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko will now be ready to take part in the 2019-20 season if it resumes after both underwent major surgeries.

Here’s a player from each team that could impact each team’s finish to the season.

Anaheim Ducks

Cam Fowler, D

Anaheim’s blue line was banged up before the pause in the season with Fowler, Erik Gudbranson and Hampus Lindholm all injured.

Fowler suffered a lower-body injury Feb. 17 against Calgary. On March 7, Ducks general manager Bob Murray told The Athletic that Fowler wanted to play, but they were going to be careful bringing him back into the fold.

He is the Ducks’ most productive defenseman this season with 29 points.

Honorable Mention: Erik Gudbranson, D

Arizona Coyotes

Jakob Chychrun, D

Chychrun has been the Coyotes’ most consistent defenseman this season with 26 points as he was on pace to set his career-high in games played in a season.

However, the injury bug hit Chychrun after he was ruled out with a lower-body injury. He last played on Feb. 19 against the Dallas Stars.

Chychrun was labeled as week-to-week but is likely to return when the season resumes as Arizona currently sits four points back of a playoff spot.

Honorable Mention: Conor Garland, F

Boston Bruins

Torey Krug, D

Krug suffered an upper-body injury after playing on March 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a game in which he notched his fifth-straight 40-assist season in the game.

Boston listed him day-to-day as he missed the next game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 10 before the season was paused. Krug is an integral part of Boston’s power-play totaling 28 points (two goals, 26 assists), making him the league-leader among NHL defensemen.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Carlo, D

Buffalo Sabres

Lawrence Pilut, D

Pilut was ruled out of the Sabres’ final game before the pausing of the season due to illness, so he should be back when the season resumes. The 24-year-old has played in 13 games this season for the Sabres.

The other three players on Buffalo’s injury report, forwards Tage Thompson and Vladimir Sobotka and defenseman Matt Hunwick, have all been ruled out for the season.

Calgary Flames

Travis Hamonic, D

Injured since Feb. 8, Hamonic has been rehabbing with an undisclosed injury. According to Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg, Hamonic practiced for the first time on March 7 since suffering the injury.

Hamonic also told the media on March 10 that he was hoping to return to the lineup on March 12, the day the NHL season was paused.

Before getting injured, Hamonic had 12 points in 50 games and had a Corsi Against rating of 100 with Mark Giordano, the seventh-best defensive pairing on the Flames this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Honorable Mention: Noah Hanifin, D

Carolina Hurricanes

Dougie Hamilton, D

Hamilton was having a Norris Trophy-type season before going down with a fractured fibula on Jan. 16. The team was hopeful for an early-April return, but with the season on the pause, Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters that he could be back if the season resumes.

The 26-year-old defenseman posted 40 points in 47 games and was closing in on his career-high total of 50 points set in 2016-17 with the Calgary Flames.

Hamilton coupled with the addition of Sami Vatanen, who has yet to play a game with Carolina, could propel the Hurricanes to a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs as they sit right on the bubble.

Honorable Mention: Sami Vatanen, D

Chicago Blackhawks

Adam Boqvist, D

The rookie defenseman suffered a concussion on March 8 against the St. Louis Blues after taking a hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.

Chicago’s 2018 first-round pick has tallied 13 points (four goals, nine assists) this season with a Corsi percentage of 47.4 percent, ranking sixth among the team’s defensemen.

If recovered, Boqvist will aid a thin Chicago blue line with Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook out for the season.

Honorable Mention: Drake Caggiula, F  

Colorado Avalanche

Mikko Rantanen, F

Nathan MacKinnon could have been the choice here, but he was scheduled to be out one-to-two weeks after suffering a lower-body injury on March 9.

Rantanen has been out of the lineup since Feb. 17 with an upper-body injury. Head coach Jared Bednar told reporters on March 11 that 23-year-old winger could return on the team’s homestand running through March 17.

The former first-round pick was recovering from his second major injury after missing 16 games earlier this season with a lower-body injury. Despite all the injuries, Rantanen has posted 41 points in 42 games this season.

Honorable Mention: Nathan MacKinnon, F

Columbus Blue Jackets

Seth Jones, D

Jones was expected to be out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured ankle on Feb. 11 . The timeline given was eight to 10 weeks.

Now, it’s possible for Columbus to get one of their best defensemen back in the fold for their playoff push. At the time of the season getting paused, the Blue Jackets sat in the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card spot.

Jones has the team’s second-best Corsi percentage (14.5) and would reunite one of the best defensive pairings in the league with Zach Werenski.

Honorable Mention: Oliver Bjorkstrand, F

Dallas Stars

Alexander Radulov, F

Radulov was the lone Star on the latest injury report after being listed with an illness. According to the team, Radulov was tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19) with results coming back negative.

He last played on March 5 against Nashville before missing the team’s final two games before the season’s pause. The 33-year-old winger ranks fourth on the team with 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists).

Detroit Red Wings

Filip Zadina, F

Just like Seth Jones, Zadina was out long-term with a fractured ankle. The 2018 first-round pick was in the middle of his first full NHL season having last played Feb. 1. 

According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan on March 11, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said he was hopeful he would return the following week.

In what is a lost season, Detroit would love to get Zadina back to get him more NHL experience before entering his third season. In 28 games this season, Zadina posted 15 points (eight goals, seven assists).

Honorable Mention: Justin Abdelkader, F

Edmonton Oilers

Mike Green, D

After playing in just two games with the Oilers on Feb. 25-26, Green suffered a sprained MCL causing him to miss three-to-four weeks.  Head coach Dave Tippett said he expects Green to return if the season resumes.

Edmonton acquired Green from the Red Wings before the NHL trade deadline to help bolster their blueline depth for the playoff push.

The Oilers will be glad to get Green back if the season resumes as they look to solidify home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Honorable Mention: Joakim Nygard, F

Florida Panthers

Brian Boyle, F

The veteran forward was signed by the Panthers right after the start of the NHL season, adding a much-needed physical presence in the lineup.

Boyle tallied 15 points in 39 games before landing on the injury report following the Feb. 1 game against the Canadiens.

Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville said on March 9 that he was optimistic about Boyle returning to action for the team’s road trip that concluded on March 12. Florida entered the pause just outside the playoff spots.

Honorable Mention: Sergei Bobrovsky, G

Los Angeles Kings

Jeff Carter, F

The two-time Stanley Cup champion is the only King listed on the injury report with a lower-body injury. Carter last played on Feb. 18 against Winnipeg and has scored 17 goals this season

Kings head coach Todd McLellan was optimistic on March 9 that the 35-year-old would return before the end of the season.

Los Angeles was riding a seven-game winning streak before play was halted, embracing the role of a team no one wants to face down the stretch.

Minnesota Wild

Carson Soucy, D

The 25-year-old defenseman is the lone Wild player on the injury report and is currently recovering from an upper-body injury.

In his first full NHL season, Soucy has registered 14 points in 55 games starting mainly on the third defensive pairing.

The Wild could use all hands on deck as Minnesota continues their playoff push in the Western Conference Wild Card race.

Montreal Canadiens

Tomas Tatar, F

On March 10, the Canadiens announced that Tatar was out indefinitely with an upper-body injury without a timetable for a possible return.

It’s been a career-year for Tatar posting 61 points in 68 games this season. This return from injury would pose the greatest upside for Montreal, but the team’s playoff chances are slim as they sit nine points back of the Islanders for the second Wild Card spot.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Drouin, F

Nashville Predators

Dan Hamhuis, D

Hamhuis last played on March 2 against Edmonton, playing just three shifts before exiting the game. The following day, the Predators announced he was day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

As the only Predator on the injury report, Hamhuis has played in 60 games this season. The veteran defenseman will look to aid Nashville’s leaky defense, which ranks tied for 19th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.10).

New Jersey Devils

Michael McLeod, F

Devils have two players, McLeod and defenseman Fredrik Claesson, who were day-to-day on the injury report with defenseman Will Butcher out three to four months with torn ligaments in his thumb. Even if the season were to resume in June or July, it would be a tight timetable for Butcher to return.

McLeod has recorded two assists in 12 games this season as the 2016 first-round pick should be all systems go after being ruled out with an unspecified injury for the March 10 game against the Penguins.

Claesson, who was acquired from Carolina in the Vatanen trade, and McLeod will look to contribute down the stretch for New Jersey and gain valuable playing experience if the 2019-20 season resumes.

Honorable Mention: Fredrik Claesson, D

New York Islanders

Josh Bailey, F

The Islanders look to be one of the teams that will gain the most when the season resumes. Bailey is among a handful of Islanders who should be good to go after the stoppage is over.

Bailey, who left the March 10 game against the Canucks, is tied for third on the team with 43 points. According to Natural Stat Trick, the 30-year-old forward is seventh on the team in expected goals scored when he’s on the ice (52.2).

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said on March 21 that forward Casey Cizikas and defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be healthy if the season resumes.

Honorable Mention: Casey Cizikas, F

New York Rangers

Chris Kreider, F

Kreider would be one of the biggest names to influence the playoff race. Entering the season’s pause, the Rangers were two points back of Columbus and Carolina in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.

The 28-year-forward suffered a fractured foot on Feb. 28 and was scheduled to be out four-to-six weeks, likely sidelining him for the remainder of the regular season.

Now the Rangers could get one of their best offensive players (45 points) back for the team’s final 12 games should the regular-season resume.

Honorable Mention: Filip Chytil, F

Ottawa Senators

Mark Borowiecki, D

The Senators assistant captain last played Feb. 13 against Arizona when he sustained an ankle injury. As one of the veterans, he ranks second on the team with 199 hits and 120 blocked shots.

Ottawa ruled Borowiecki out indefinitely with the injury as he was in the midst of his best offensive season (18 points).

The 30-year-old, Ottawa native should be back if the season resumes with the team entering the stoppage on a two-game losing streak.

Honorable Mention: Artem Anisimov, F

Philadelphia Flyers

James van Riemsdyk, F

The Flyers have surged out of nowhere to be the sixth-best team in the league at the league’s stoppage and only one point back of the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals.

A big piece for the Flyers they’ll get back if the season resumes is van Riemsdyk, who has 40 points in 66 games this season. The 30-year-old was ruled out for four-to-six weeks by the Flyers on March 5 with a broken right index finger.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the winger is second on the team in individual expected goals created (18.1).  He also leads the team in individual high danger chances created (105).  

Honorable Mention: Nolan Patrick, F

Pittsburgh Penguins

Jake Guentzel, F

Over the last two seasons, no Penguin has score more goals than Guentzel (60). This season he had 43 points in 39 games played, but he suffered a right shoulder injury on Dec. 30 leading to season-ending surgery.

However, with the season paused and Guentzel being given a four-to-six month timeline following the surgery, there’s a distinct possibility that he could return if the season resumes according to general manager Jim Rutherford.

In Pittsburgh’s three previous playoff appearances, Guentzel ranks second on the team with 43 points only behind Sidney Crosby (49). Guentzel is a premier playoff performer and would provide a massive boost for the Penguins.

Honorable Mention: Zach Aston-Reese, F

San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson, D

It’s still uncertain whether the Sharks would bring back Karlsson, who was ruled out for the season on Feb. 15 after undergoing surgery to repair a broken thumb.

Karlsson, who has 40 points in 56 games, was slated to be ready for the start of training camp in September. With the potential of the season ramping up again in July or August, we’ll see if it’s worthwhile to bring him back for the conclusion of the season if he’s recovered.

San Jose entered the work stoppage as the third-worst team in the NHL.

Honorable Mention: Logan Couture, F

St. Louis Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko, F

The Blues would be getting one of the premier goal scorers in the league back for the playoff push. Tarasenko, who has only played in 10 games this season, last appeared in a game on Oct. 24 before undergoing shoulder surgery on Oct. 29.

On Feb. 6, Tarasenko skated for the first time since the procedure in hopes of joining the team in the near future.

The pausing of the season allows Tarasenko, who had 10 points before his injury, to fully recover and integrate back into the team before the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Steven Stamkos, F

On Nov. 10, the Lightning were 14-11-3 and appeared to have a hangover from last season’s stunning first-round exit in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Since then, Tampa Bay has gone 29-10-3 to catapult themselves to second place in the Atlantic Division, but on Feb. 29 the team was a dealt a huge blow with Stamkos ruled out for six-to-eight weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery.

The two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner scored 66 points in 57 games this season and was scheduled to miss the remainder of the regular season and possibly the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With the season stoppage, Tampa Bay will have the chance to get their captain back for potentially a deep playoff run.

Honorable Mention: Victor Hedman, D

Toronto Maple Leafs

Jake Muzzin, D

Muzzin suffered a broken hand on Feb. 25 and was slated to miss a month. The 31-year-old tallied 23 points in 53 games this season.

If the season resumes, the Maple Leafs could be at the healthiest its been all season with defenseman Ilya Mikheyev also expected to return. Toronto has only two blueliners play at least 60 games this season in Tyson Barrie (70) and Justin Holl (68).

This will help aid a leaky defense. According to Natural Stat Trick, Toronto allows 3.13 goals per 60 minutes which is the sixth-worst rate in the league.

Honorable Mention: Ilya Mikheyev, D

Vancouver Canucks

Jacob Markstrom, G

The Canucks are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and the loss of Markstrom couldn’t come at a worst time. Markstrom last played on Feb. 22 and was ruled out for at least two weeks after undergoing a procedure for a lower-body injury.

This season, Markstrom was named an All-Star for the first time in his career posting a 2.75 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

Thatcher Demko and Louis Domingue have started games in his place with the Canucks going 3-5-0 before the March 12 pause. If the season resumes, Vancouver will greatly benefit from his return as the Canucks rank in the bottom half of the league in goals allowed per game.

Honorable Mention: Chris Tanev, D

Vegas Golden Knights

Max Pacioretty, F

The Golden Knights have gotten back on track after Peter DeBoer took over as head coach. Since taking over on Jan. 15, Vegas has the fourth-best record in the NHL going 15-5-2 catapulting them to the top of the Pacific Division.

However, the Golden Knights lost their leading scorer in Pacioretty with a lower-body injury on March 11. He was ruled out week-to-week.

This season, Pacioretty was on pace to set a career-high in points. At the league’s pause, he had 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) putting him one point shy of his career-high 67 points. His Corsi percentage is 63.92, good for second in the NHL among players who have played at least 20 games this season.

If the season resumes, the Golden Knights will have a fully healthy Pacioretty for a deep playoff run.

Honorable Mention: Mark Stone, F

Washington Capitals

The Capitals entered the pause fully healthy with no one listed on the injury report.

Winnipeg Jets

Bryan Little, F

Little has been out since Nov. 5 after suffering a punctured eardrum and a concussion. According to NHL.com, Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters that there’s a chance Little can return if the season resumes.

The 13-year veteran only got to play in seven games this season and underwent surgery on his eardrum on Feb. 15 with the recovery time listed as three months.

In his career, Little has tallied at least 40 points in nine seasons and is the team’s second-leading all-time goal scorer with 217 goals. Winnipeg has had 324 man-games lost to injury this season but could get dramatically healthier if the season resumes.

Honorable Mention: Luca Sbisa, D

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Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: ‘Kind of hard to wrap your head around’ what will happen

The NHL’s 2019-20 season is on pause and Sophie Nugent-Hopkins is happy.

Why? Well, it doesn’t hurt that the golden retriever’s dad, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is home full-time.

“She’s the only one that’s probably happy that the little quirky things going on,” he said on a video call with reporters on Thursday. “She gets lots of intention and lots of walks right now so she’s been happy.”

It’s a moment of respite in what has been a tumultuous time.

Before games were postponed back on March 12, the veteran of nine seasons, who was primarily used as a winger this year, was on pace for a career year with 61 points in 65 games.

“It does open up a little bit more offensively for you [moving over to the wing],” he said. “When you’re center you’ve always got to make sure you’re coming back and playing deep in your own zone and you’re kind of catching up to the rush … whereas a wing, you’re usually the one leading with the puck or at least supporting the guy who’s leading with the puck. As soon as we get it we have that offensive mindset.

“It was definitely a lot of fun and I think it did kind of open up things more offensively for me.

With the likes of Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the addition of James Neal, Edmonton was also poised for its first postseason since 2017 — and only the second appearance since 2006. 

“Having fresh guys in, who’ve played on winning teams before, I think it kind of changed the mentality [in the room],” he noted for an Oilers squad second in the Pacific Division. “We had a lot of confidence in our group this year. … I think, for players like me who have been here for a long time it’s, it’s nice to have some fresh faces and some positive energy coming in after a couple off years.”

The 2019-20 season has definitely been a solid one for the Oilers. Now, the only question is when — or if — their great season will be resumed. Numerous scenarios and timelines have been discussed, from finishing the regular season first to just jumping right into the playoffs.

“At this point, it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around it,” Nugent-Hopkins said.  “We’re taking it week by week, almost day by day. We want to get back to playing. It’s just a matter of figuring out what this is all gonna look like in the next couple of months here so it’s tough to say how late we would play, but we want to get back to it. It’s definitely tough to speculate right now just based on it’s the start of April and that seems like a long way away right now, but kind of take it day by day, I guess.”

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Oilers’ McDavid: ‘Fair season is a full season’

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

Connor McDavid likes where the NHL paused its 2019-20 regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic. His Edmonton Oilers would be in the playoffs and have home-ice advantage in a first-round series against their rivals, the Calgary Flames.

“I think [the standings] look pretty good right now,” he joked in a video conference call on Friday. “But you want a fair season. And a fair season is a full season. If we can do that, I think that’s something we’d obviously prefer.”

It’s also something a few of his Pacific Division rivals would prefer. When the NHL postponed its regular season on March 12, the Vancouver Canucks were tied with the Nashville Predators at 78 points in 69 games, but Nashville would win the tie-breaker for the last wild-card spot in the West.

But if the NHL ended its regular season and seeded its playoff via points percentage rather than point totals, not only would the Canucks (.565 points percentage) make the postseason, they would jump ahead of the Flames (70 points in 70 games, .564 points percentage) into third place and face the Oilers.

“Either go by points percentage or play some more regular-season games,” said Vancouver center Bo Horvat, when asked for his preferred format for a season restart. “Obviously, to make it completely fair, you’d want to play more regular-season games and have more games to get in. But if we’re going to start playoffs right away, definitely by percentage, that would put us in. But it’s tough to make that call.”

It’s an even tougher call for the Arizona Coyotes. They’re four points out of a playoff spot after 70 games. They have a .529 points percentage. Under either formula, they’re not a playoff team. So players like defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson are hoping for a regular-season restart.

“I think it’s fair to start where we left off here. It would be good for the playoffs too, to get those games going again. It would benefit all of us,” Ekman-Larsson said.

Since the season was paused, players have exchanged different playoff format ideas among themselves while the NHL hierarchy has done the same.

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” said Flames defenseman Mark Giordano. “In a perfect world, you want to play a full regular season and whoever gets in, gets in. But I don’t think realistically we’re going to have that time.”

His remedy?

“You can’t eliminate teams that are in on points percentage. I think you go 12 and 12 (in each conference). More teams get in this year. Maybe a couple byes at the top, and play it out,” Giordano said.

Whatever the playoff format, the quality of that postseason is something the players are curious about. The season restart could come after months of the players being restricted from using the team’s training facilities or rarely getting a chance to skate. McDavid is wary about jumping into playoff intensity after that layoff.

“I don’t think we can just step into the playoffs and Game 1, it’s Calgary coming to Edmonton, and guys are running around trying to kill each other that haven’t played for two months. It’ll end up the (AHL) Stockton Heat vs. the Bakersfield Condors if that’s the case. We want to keep the guys healthy,” he said.

But the layoff has another benefit: allowing players who were out of the lineup due to injuries to heal up and be ready for the playoffs whenever they begin.

“If we can ever get back to playing, it’s going to be one of the best playoffs ever. You’re going to be playing the best version of every team,” Giordano said.

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NFL draft QB projections: Why Jordan Love is risky

  • Founder and Editor-in-chief of Footballoutsiders.com
  • NFL analyst for ESPN Insider

There’s no risk in the NFL quite like the risk of drafting a quarterback. No defense revolves around a single player the way every offense revolves around the quarterback. Trust your offense to the wrong young quarterback, and your team isn’t going to climb back into playoff contention. Quarterbacks get drafted earlier than players who rank similarly at their respective positions. And while quarterbacks have more statistics measuring them than other players do, teams haven’t been more accurate in drafting them. Just ask the Chicago Bears, who selected Mitchell Trubisky before Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes three years ago.

The lessons of history can at least help us figure out how much of a risk each quarterback prospect will be. That’s the point of Football Outsiders’ quarterback-adjusted stats and experience (QBASE) projection system. It looks at college performance, experience, and expected draft position (to incorporate scouting information that college stats will miss). To allow some time for development, QBASE projects a quarterback’s efficiency (passing only) in Years 3-5 of his career according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR) metric. A total of 50,000 simulations produces a range of potential outcomes for each prospect, with players drafted later generally having a larger range of possibilities.

You’ll notice that every listed quarterback prospect has a chance to be elite, and every quarterback has a chance to be a bust. That reflects just how much we don’t know about drafting quarterbacks, and the wide range of possible outcomes for each player.

QBASE favors quarterbacks expected to go high in the draft who also have a relatively long résumé of college success, according to the stats. Those stats include completion percentage, adjusted yards per attempt (adjusted for touchdowns and interceptions), and team passing efficiency (measured with Bill Connelly’s passing SP+ stats). These numbers are adjusted both for the quality of the defenses that a prospect had to face as well as the quality of his offensive teammates. QBASE is meant to be used only on players chosen in the top 100 picks; after that, the judgment of scouts becomes even more important, and statistics become even less predictive.

Overall, QBASE thinks this is a good year for moderately promising quarterback prospects. None of this year’s quarterbacks comes close to the top projections in QBASE history, in part because no top quarterback prospect this year has four full seasons as a college starter.

However, this is the first year with three prospects with mean projections over 600 DYAR since 2012 (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson) and the first year with five prospects with mean projections over 400 DYAR since 2006. Then again, those five quarterbacks in 2006 were Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Kellen Clemens, Vince Young and Tarvaris Jackson — once again demonstrating that projecting quarterbacks is very difficult.

Here are projections for eight quarterbacks who might go in the top 100 picks of the 2020 NFL draft.

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Rewind to 2005: The last time the NHL postponed the draft

When it comes to work stoppages in professional sports, every sports league in the world bows down and kneels before the altar of the NHL. After never having a single season interrupted in the first 74 years of existence, the world’s premier hockey league shut down four times between 1992 and 2013 because of labor disputes, including the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.

Of course, the current suspension of play in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has nothing to do with a breakdown in employer-employee relations. The NHL made the right call in ceasing operations until the time is right. But it once again begs the question for hockey fans, “Why does this always happen to us?”

Whatever decision is made regarding the regular season, the one thing we as fans can count on is the NHL draft, which was slated for the last weekend in June in Montreal but has since been postponed. The league may never resume play, but history tells us it is more than willing to drive on with the draft, even if it means breaking away from tradition and standard operating procedure.

Just like 2005.

It was during late July of that summer — one that followed the canceled 2004-05 campaign — when owners and the players’ association, led by Bob Goodenow, finally came to an agreement to end the most infamous work stoppage in the history of the sport, with one of the key tasks that required immediate attention being the entry draft. The lockout ended officially on the morning of July 22, and it was only a few hours later when the NHL held an official press conference to outline the way forward for the draft lottery and the draft itself.

Based off of feedback and recommendations from clubs, and per the guidelines outlined in the NHL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the revamped draft lottery was to happen immediately. In fact, both the lottery and league commissioner Gary Bettman’s official announcement took place simultaneously in different areas of the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers. There simply wasn’t a moment to spare.

It was during Bettman’s presser where he outlined the specifics for the draft , which would take place in Ottawa on July 30 but was limited in scope, scale and coverage compared to previous events. The biggest difference, however, was that summer of 2005 was more than just a watershed moment because of the end of the lockout. It also marked the long-awaited chance for NHL clubs to draft Sidney Crosby, who at the time was considered the most coveted draft prospect since Eric Lindros in 1991.

“The fact of the matter is (the 2005 draft) is a unique circumstance. The draft and the order of the draft traditionally reflects how teams finished a particular season. We already had that draft in 2003-04. But we also wanted to take into account how some teams have performed over time and need help. But taking into account as well that nobody knows exactly what the new world is going to look like, so half the league probably wanted everybody to have an equal chance and the other half wanted all the teams that didn’t make the playoffs to have the only chances — weighted or unweighted. And if you look at the statistical odds of both scenarios what we did is about in the middle. Nobody was particularly thrilled, but everyone understood that on balance it was probably the fairest way to approach it.”

— NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (July 22, 2005)

Now that the administrative formalities surrounding the 2005 draft were addressed, the next step was for general managers and their scouts to implement the draft strategies that they had cultivated over the previous 12 months. Unlike other years where only the non-playoff teams had a chance at the first pick, the 2005 draft lottery was designed to give all 30 teams a shot at Crosby, with the greatest odds going to four teams — the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers, the Buffalo Sabres, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. All four in comparison to the rest of the league were considered to have unmatched levels of ineptitude over the three seasons prior. The Penguins owned the league’s worst record in the 2003-04 season.

The Crosby Sweepstakes

There were no illusions as to who was going to be the first overall pick in 2005. Not only did Crosby win the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Year Award in each of his two seasons leading up to the draft, but he also outperformed his closest competitors in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League by a massive margin — his 2.71 points-per-game average in 2004-05 was the highest for a 17-year-old prospect since Mario Lemieux in 1982-83.

While every organization, including perennial powerhouses like the Detroit Red Wings, Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, and even the 2004 Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning, would welcome the addition of a generational star like Crosby, several teams in the NHL were in desperate need of a financial boost.

It was no secret back in the early 2000s that the Penguins were a struggling franchise with an uncertain future long before the cancellation of the 2004-05 season. The team was purchased by Lemieux in 1999 from federal bankruptcy court, but it was a colossal failure on the ice and was already forced to trade expensive stars like Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev and Ron Francis.

Not only were the Penguins struggling to generate fan interest, but they also were in danger of being relocated. The lease to the Mellon Arena was expiring in 2007 and rumors were circling that the Penguins would eventually be sold and moved elsewhere, with Houston, Portland and Kansas City the leading candidates.

Odds-wise, the Penguins had a 6.25-percent chance at winning the lottery and drafting Crosby, who at nearly 18 was perceived to be not only NHL ready, but also capable of resurrecting the franchise from the bottom of the standings. If the city of Pittsburgh wanted to keep its hockey team, the quickest way to convince investors and season-ticket holders to remain on board was to have a franchise player to not only market, but also help make the city an attraction for prospective free agents.

The even bigger piece was getting a new arena, which would have been next-to-impossible without Crosby’s star power as a selling point.

The Drawing

Much like in today’s NHL, the 2005 lottery drawing was held in a private room with representation from the league and all 30 teams. The setup back then was no different than what we’ve seen in recent years. A bunch of ping-pong balls are drawn from an air-blowing hopper to determine the draft order, with the results delivered via the opening of 30 envelopes, each with a card revealing the team logo. The team card inside the last remaining envelope would be the winner of the first pick.

The biggest difference, however, was the lack of national television coverage in the United States. The lockout and subsequent decrease in interest, along with dwindling ratings during the tail end of the “Dead Puck Era” convinced mega sports provider ESPN to decline a $60-million option that would have seen it air games during the 2005-06 season. As big a name as Crosby was becoming, ESPN had already lost interest in not only the NHL, but the NHL draft as well. Therefore, only a handful of regional U.S. cable networks would be airing the event live.

Nonetheless, when the drawing concluded, it was the Penguins who took home the grand prize.

Within minutes of being awarded the first overall pick, the once downtrodden franchise became a hot item again. Season-ticket subscriptions were renewed and individual game sales more than doubled from the previous season — all before the official selection was made eight days later in Ottawa.

“Just the fact that we have the first pick overall and have a good opportunity to rebuild the franchise with a great young player like Sidney is something special and we’re looking forward to rebuilding the team.”

— Penguins’ team owner Mario Lemieux (July 22, 2005)

Draft Day ’05

The NHL already had arrangements with the Ottawa Senators to host the 2005 draft at what was then known as the Corel Centre on June 25-26,  before the league postponed the event on March 24 of that year . The initial response from the NHL was to conduct the eventual draft via a conference call, but it was later changed to a live event in an Ottawa hotel with full NHL team representation along with 20 of the top prospects according to the final Central Scouting rankings.

The lottery drawing and multiple on-the-record declarations by Penguins’ GM Craig Patrick and Lemieux that they were drafting Crosby may have decreased the level of intrigue that normally surrounds the first pick of most drafts, but that didn’t stop teams from trying to land the phenom the hard way.

“Every team has called and inquired (about trading for the first pick) but they knew the answer. But they have to go back to their owners and say they tried. There weren’t any offers, just interest, and we told them there was no interest.”

— Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick (July 30, 2005)

To nobody’s surprise, Crosby was the first player off the board, followed by winger Bobby Ryan to the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman Jack Johnson to the Carolina Hurricanes. Other notables from that 2005 class include all-star goalies Carey Price (fifth overall) and Tuukka Rask (21st overall); two-time Stanley Cup winner Anze Kopitar (11th overall), plus center Paul Stastny (44th overall). What is surprising is that the top three defensemen from that draft — Marc-Edouard Vlasic (35th overall), Kris Letang (62nd overall) and Keith Yandle (105th overall) — were chosen outside the first round.

Thanks to a new CBA, the number of rounds in 2005 were reduced from nine to seven; a standard that exists to this day. The 230 players selected in 2005 also included 18 compensatory picks, and both totals represent the most in a draft year since the 2005-06 CBA was signed. It was also one of the last drafts to have all seven rounds in one day. The league tried it again in 2007 before switching to the current format of Round 1 on Friday and Rounds 2-7 the day after.

As for the Penguins, the pre-draft boasts from prognosticators that lionized Crosby as the savior of a desperate franchise were validated almost immediately. And although Crosby’s impressive 102-point rookie season wasn’t enough to prevent another losing campaign in Pittsburgh in 2006, the buzz he generated was felt throughout the league and in North America as a whole.

By 2007, Crosby was a scoring champion and league MVP while leading the Penguins to the playoffs. The following season, the Penguins were in the Stanley Cup Final, and in August of 2008, they broke ground for a new arena. Since entering the league, Crosby has captained the Penguins to three Stanley Cup championships and 13 consecutive playoff appearances while winning two Hart Trophies; two Ross Trophies; and consecutive Conn Smythe Trophies in 2016 and 2017.

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Taylor Hall chirps Ryan Strome for slapshot video

While the NHL’s 2019-20 season is currently on pause and players are quarantined, many players have taken to Twitter to show fans just what they’re doing with their newfound spare time.

On Thursday, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome posted a video of himself firing off slapshots … with tennis balls … on a basketball court … in slippers. 

Who are we to judge?

Well, maybe his fellow NHLers are qualified. Former teammate and current Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestnikov replied: “Some will say it’s fake” with a sad emoji.

Then came the chirp of all chirps from the Arizona Coyotes’ Taylor Hall, who is, by the way, an upcoming unrestricted free agent this summer.

Well, Taylor, considering Strome was having a career year with 59 points (18 goals, 41 assists) in 70 games  — the answer is yes.

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Avalanche player tests positive for COVID-19

The Colorado Avalanche announced Friday that an unnamed player has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Along with the two Ottawa Senators confirmed to have contracted the virus, Friday’s announcement brings the number of cases among NHL players to three.

The Avalanche said the player was isolated after his symptoms first appeared and has already recovered.

“The Colorado Avalanche were advised today that a player has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The player has been at home in isolation since the first symptoms appeared, has recovered and is back to normal. The Avalanche have notified anyone who has had known close contact with the athlete,” a team statement read. “The health and safety of our players, staff, fans, and community remains our highest priority. The Avalanche organization will continue to work in conjunction with our medical staff and public health officials to do everything we can to help the Avalanche community remain safe and healthy during this time.”

Colorado finished a three-game road trip on March 9 (at Vancouver, San Jose and Los Angeles) before holding its final home game against the New York Rangers on March 11.

The NHL’s season has been on indefinite pause due to the outbreak since March 12.

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Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer makes coronavirus face shields for medical professionals

Bauer, a hockey equipment manufacturing company, has shifted its focus from equipment that serves players on the ice to materials such as masks and shields for medical professionals as the world fights the coronavirus pandemic. 

Hospitals across the world have faced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves and shields, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

CEO Ed Kinnaly told ESPN more than 100,000 units in Canada have been ordered and the company working to ramp up its production in the U.S. 

"In the U.S., honestly, the word is not out yet." Kinnaly told ESPN. "We've been doing outreach to various medical entities … we're also going to use our social channels to basically let the medical community know that we have the ability to produce these."

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PAY CUT: Stars executives take 50% pay cut to help team employees

Protection that allows athletes to give everything for their team is our heritage.

Right now, we’re all on the same team. We’re repurposing our facilities to make face shields so that medical professionals battling COVID-19 can safely continue to help those most vulnerable. pic.twitter.com/pBiZuUWdVl

Company employees designed the shields, which are made to complement other PPE equipment, and had them outfitted by medical personnel to determine the proper fit. The entire process took four days, Kinnaly said. 

"I wish we could do more," he said. "Any way we can help, we're going to try."

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Who is Connor Mackey? Flames sign highly-coveted undrafted blueliner

Even though the NHL season is on pause, teams around the league are continuing to do business. 

The latest deal came through on Friday afternoon when the Calgary Flames announced the signing of undrafted free agent Connor Mackey to a one-year, entry-level deal that will start next season.

Standing at 6-2, the 23-year-old defenseman was one of the highest-rated undrafted free agents in hockey.

Here’s all you need to know about the Flames’ newest prospect. 

Where is Connor Mackey from? 

Mackey hails from Tower Lakes, Ill., and attended Barrington High School which is about an hour outside of Chicago. His father, David Mackey, played 126 games in the NHL for the Blackhawks, Blues and Minnesota North Stars. 

Where has Connor Mackey played?

After captaining his high school team, Mackey played two seasons with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers before starting his NCAA career at Minnesota State University in 2017. He’s been playing collegiately since then. 

What are Connor Mackey’s strengths as a player?

The blueliner has been widely regarded for his contributions offensively, especially on the power play. In his second season in Green Bay, Mackey tallied 47 points in just 60 games — 34 of those with the man advantage. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, however, with just six goals to his 41 assists in 2016-17 when he was named the USHL’s Defenseman of the Year. 

He’s also been praised for his high hockey IQ and decision-making. This past season in Mankato he put up 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 36 games and was selected to the All-WCHA First Team.

What’s his connection to Calgary?

Mackey’s father played 60 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers, so there exists a small family connection to Alberta, but according to Flames social media manager Torie Peterson he also attended a development camp in Calgary just a few years ago. 

Now, Mackey will get the chance to stake a claim for an NHL career as a part of the Flames’ organization. 

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An inside look at NHL Network’s third annual all-female broadcast

SECAUCUS, N.J. — Tuesday, March 10, was just another day at NHL Network. The large complex was bustling and getting ready for “NHL Now,” the network’s afternoon show that typically runs from 4 to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Scripts were written and graphics were built in preparation to discuss the previous night’s games and the full slate that lay ahead.

Veteran director Lisa Smith sat in the front bench of the darkened control room. She signaled to her technical director, Ellen Welch, to open the show’s animation before counting down, directing the lights to be raised and the camera to begin its slow push in.

“Have a good show, everyone,” Smith said, just as she has done before the start of every show of her career.

Everything was the same, and yet it wasn’t — and now won’t be for a while.

Originally, the show was going to be slightly different than usual because, while everyone did their jobs normally assigned to them, this was just the third time in the history of the network that all the faces in front of the camera, and the majority behind it, belonged to women. Less than 48 hours later, it became one of the last episodes for now as the NHL put the 2019-20 season on pause.

As the world awaits the return of hockey, Sporting News takes a look back at NHL Network celebrating Gender Equality Month with an all-female broadcast team, through exclusive behind-the-scenes access.

— 

Jackie Redmond, host: I usually get here at 10:30 [a.m. ET] or a little bit before. That’s when I get makeup. Our show meetings are at noon every day, today was 11:30, but [usually] I come in, go to the gym, watch the highlights, read the research packet — which we get every day — and then we go to the meeting and from there we just kind of prep the day away.

Kirsten Sobecki, producer: The day before we’ll come in and we’ll request guests through our assignment desk … based off matchups, etc. … Then you come in in the morning, you see what happened the night before and [in] the games, you start [and] throwing things in your rundown.

Sometimes [the rundown] completely blows up in the meeting [because] someone’s like, “Hey, I saw this and we can do something cool about this” and, there you go, boom, now you have a whole segment that I had literally no clue about five minutes ago, so that’s kind of cool.”

This particular two-hour broadcast included the show’s usual host, Redmond, alongside the network’s Jamie Hersch and Team USA goalie and guest analyst Alex (Rigsby) Cavallini.

DAZN/NHL Network’s Lauren Gardner made appearances on the show, as did several remote guests: NBCSN’s Kathryn Tappen previewing the Bruins-Flyers game; two-time Olympic gold medalist Cheryl Pounder; Barbara Williams, the first female skating coach in the NHL; TSN’s Kristen Shilton on the Maple Leafs-Lightning game, and Lyndsay Rowley of Fox Sports Tennessee discussing the Predators in Montreal to play the Canadiens.

Redmond: We have a couple of breakdown tapes, which normally the analysts do, but I’m going to be doing a breakdown tape today and go through some tape. Jamie has some ideas as well that she’s going to tackle, and so it’s really the same show. We’re going to have everything from previews for tonight, analysis of last night. We’re going to look ahead to the postseason in a sort of fun way; our show always has these fun types of segments. We’re going to make picks. “Eight games in eight minutes” is a big segment that we do.

Jamie Hersch, co-host: There is responsibility in putting on the best show, especially this show, as possible. I don’t like to look at it as pressure because I just think it’s a responsibility for me. Again, it’s a personal thing, like, yeah, I want to be the best I can be every single show, not just because I’m a woman, [but] because I’m an accountable person and employee.

But I do think that credibility, it takes a long time to earn that credibility and very little time at all — especially for a woman — to lose it. So I think for us to make sure we’re as prepared as possible to not make a mistake. You know, if we go on the air and say, “Oh, the Flyers’ seven-game winning streak” and it’s nine games, that’s a mistake and people will quickly point [it] out or think: “Oh, it’s because you’re a woman.”

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After poring over the statistics packet that is put together every day by the research department, the team headed to the studio for a few pre-tapes, including the segment with Williams, who worked with the Islanders from 1977 to 1981 and Devils from 1981 to 1982. She continues to work with pros, including Long Island native and Red Wings prospect Robert Mastrosimone.

Once the clock struck 4 p.m. ET, the opening animation ran and Redmond, Hersch and Cavallini welcomed viewers to the telecast. Under the bright studio lights and situated on a replica rink, the trio began by recapping the five games that were played Monday night.

Cavallini, who won gold with Team USA at the 2018 Olympics and spent her afternoon going over the stats, brought her expert insight to the telecast as she broke down the netminders including Connor Hellebuyck’s play in the Winnipeg Jets’ 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. 

Cavallini, analyst: [This show] gets people to see that there are opportunities out there and, you know, one of the big things is that these women do these jobs on a daily basis. This is my first time, but everyone else, they do this all the time, and so to see them be able to put a show together like this is really incredible for women of all ages to be able to see, and see that maybe one day I can do that.

The all-female broadcast marked the goaltender’s debut.

Cavallini: It was a lot easier once the lights turned on, so it was kind of one of those things like a hockey game … you prepared and that’s pretty much all you can do. … I trusted being alongside Jackie and Jamie, that if I stuttered or if I made some mistake that they were going to help me through it, so felt a lot better once the camera got going.

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The episode also showcased Redmond, who hails from Canada and grew up playing hockey, skating with USA Hockey star Amanda Kessel. In previously recorded segments, the pair went through on-ice drills, including how to speed up your hands on shots. 

Hersch: I think the first year, the whole argument that I’ve heard most in terms of a negative response is: “Well, this is sexist. This is excluding men, like, why, you wouldn’t do this for the men.” I think my response to that is always: We’re not excluding men — and there are men involved in our show today, by the way. We’re not like, “Nope, you can’t do this.” It’s literally just about recognizing the fact that most of the time these roles are filled by men, so because there are women who are also in these roles, let’s just have one day to celebrate that. … So, that was the first year; I think we got a little more pushback. Last year was far less and then this year I’ve only seen positive things so far about that, so I think it is starting to become normalized.

Halfway through the show, they switched to a different, smaller studio that contained cameras on a track which are remotely operated from the control room.

At one point, they welcomed Rowley from Montreal, who just seconds earlier had to have a technician turn off a monitor behind her that had bars suddenly pop up on the screen — bars, by the way, are the colorful lines that show up when there’s a technical issue, so not the best thing to have on television. The direction came from the control room and was communicated via headset as they were preparing to go to her live.

During the segment, the rinkside reporter noted that she was “honored to be on the show” and told viewers “if I can do it, you can do it.”

Just like that, two hours went by quickly. Once the on-air talent said goodbye to viewers, there was a quick change in the control room and studio as the next show’s staff and talent stepped in — just like on a regular day.

Hersch: I think it’s huge [to have the show] because the thing that you know we’ve been seeing a lot more of lately is “if you can see it you can be it.” And I love that because that just kind of sums up how I felt my whole life really about representation and the importance of that.

I just go back to a couple years ago someone asking me if I’d ever considered doing play-by-play, and I said, “No, like, what? No, never.” And I thought more about that and I thought, “Why? Why haven’t I considered that?” and it was because I just literally had never had any sort of role model. … Just to have someone that looks like you, sounds like you, no matter what you are, I think is important to have those examples.

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Redmond: For me, it’s obviously really special. I think it is a great illustration of the women before us, and how much they have done, whether they’ve been broadcasters or athletes that have really pushed for females that play sports and females that want to cover sports. So I think from that standpoint, like when I was a kid, could I have ever imagined an all-female hockey show? I don’t know. I don’t know that I would have, as an 8-year-old, thought that that was a realistic thing.

We had a girl on the show last year, and this hit me the other day. … Logan is a young girl out in Vegas, huge Vegas Golden Knights fan, wants to be a reporter when she’s older. … We had her on the show last year. We were like, let’s bring Logan on the show as our Vegas correspondent and have her give us the details heading into the Vegas Golden Knights game. She posted that interview earlier this week, was like, “Can’t believe it’s been a year since I was on an NHL network.” … It obviously really impacted her and I just think it’s super important that, you know, young girls or anybody … know that there is opportunity for them.

It’s been a year and she is probably going to chase that career path because she’s a huge fan on her own. But I like to think in some sort of way that coming on the show might have been like a big deal to her, something that gives her confidence thinking not only is this fun [but] maybe I can do it. So, that’s my very long-winded way to say it’s really special to me. Hopefully, lots of youth and young kids watching feel that way when they watch the show or at the very least, will support the people in their lives that want to do something similar.

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