Sports NHL evaluating alternate plans for North Division's playoff setup

05:10  23 april  2021
05:10  23 april  2021 Source:   prohockeyrumors.com

Trade-deadline primer: Toronto Maple Leafs

  Trade-deadline primer: Toronto Maple Leafs After bringing in some experience and character in the offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been the unquestioned leader of the North Division for most of the season. They now sit seven points clear of the second place Winnipeg Jets, meaning if there was ever a year for GM Kyle Dubas to push his chips to the middle, this might be it. Dubas himself has admitted that the team’s cap situation may lend itself to going after a rental instead of a player with term this year, meaning nearly everyone on an expiring contract could be a target for the Maple Leafs.

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs creep closer and closer and there has been no change at the Canadian border, it is seeming more and more likely that there will be some form of relocation in the postseason. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the NHL is not rushing to any conclusions, waiting to see if border policies are relaxed, but have to evaluate alternative plans for the North Division winner to be able to compete in the semifinals and Cup Final this season.

a large stadium © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Dreger notes that there is still hope that playoff games will take place in Canada this season, but it is not guaranteed at this point. Of the three possibilities that the league is considering, obviously the ideal result would be that border policies will be changed or at least NHL teams will be made a special exception, allowing the final two playoff rounds to take place in the North Division winner’s home city as usual.

Maple Leafs acquire Riley Nash from Blue Jackets for draft pick

  Maple Leafs acquire Riley Nash from Blue Jackets for draft pick The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh-round selection in 2022. Nash is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained knee, meaning he essentially is a playoff pickup for the Maple Leafs. If he plays in 25% of the Maple Leafs’ playoff games this season, the seventh-round selection will become a sixth-rounder. The veteran forward will likely be put on long-term injured reserve through the end of the season, meaning his cap hit is basically irrelevant to the Maple Leafs.

The next-best scenario is likely that the North Division playoffs will take place in home cities and only once a winner is decided will they move to an American city in order to continue on in the postseason. However, Dreger notes that the third option could see all four North Division playoff teams adopt the same U.S. home for their own divisional series, more similar to the bubble format seen last season.

For the Canadian teams and their fans, this is probably their least-favorite outcome, but if the status quo remains at the border and provincial policies remain tight as well, it may be the only way for those clubs to make a league-wide postseason work.

  • For the second season in a row, the Calder Cup will not be awarded. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that the AHL has abandoned hope of a league-wide postseason this season. The league is still evaluating the logistics of divisional playoffs, but with multiple divisions all of different sizes, a blanket format would be difficult to implement. Seravalli adds that without a championship to pursue and no financial incentive for players and many teams to play beyond the regular season, the AHL’s divisional playoffs may also be on an opt-in basis for both clubs and individuals. It would not be a surprise to see the minor league simply come to an end after their regular season schedule ends, allowing those players to join the parent club for their postseason run.
  • While the cancelation of the Women’s World Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia has been a major story this week, Dreger reports that the odds are slim that the event will not happen at all. Instead, he notes that a number of locales have reached out about hosting the tournament. They include a number of fellow Canadian locations, such as Edmonton, Ottawa, and Price Edward Island, as well as Dallas, Texas and even a bid from Finland. By the time the IIHF is able to choose a new host and then re-plan the tournament, the Women’s Worlds are not expected to occur until late August or September. However, anything is better than the tournament being outright canceled altogether.

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Trade-deadline primer: Winnipeg Jets

  Trade-deadline primer: Winnipeg Jets The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline is just hours away so it’s time to wrap up our look around the league with the Winnipeg Jets and where they stand and should be trying to do. © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports The Jets came into this season as a bit of a wild card team. Connor Hellebuyck gives them high-level goaltending while they bolstered one of the better top-six forward groups in the league.  There were questions surrounding the rest of the team but they’ve answered them nicely so far and are battling for home ice in the first round with a shot still at tracking down Toronto for first in the North.

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First-round pick Yegor Chinakhov signs with Blue Jackets .
The 20-year-old Russian was solid in the KHL this season, picking up 10 goals and 17 points in 32 games with Avangard Omsk.After winning the Gagarin Cup earlier this week, Chinakhov had a decision to make whether to re-sign in the KHL and continue his career in Russia, or join the Blue Jackets who drafted him last fall. When his KHL contract expired, the decision was made, and Chinakhov is coming to North America according to his agent Shumi Babaev. The Blue Jackets have not released any details, but the 20-year-old forward will be limited to his three-year entry-level contract.

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