NHL Week in Review (March 13-19)

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With the trade deadline over, General Managers met in Boca Raton for different talks this time about the league as a whole.

The GM Meetings are held every year in the NHL to go over some of the biggest issues facing the league.

They look as rule changes that can be put into place next season to help improve the game.

They talk about the salary cap and the changes that they need or want when it comes to the increasing salaries of the NHL.

The GMs solved some issues, possibly created some more, and essentially made decisions on some pretty big changes in the league.

More than anything though these meetings concentrated on one of the biggest stories in the league and something that could change the league for years to come.

Before the season began, Gary Bettman did something that the media had been wondering about for years.

He called for applications for NHL expansion teams after years of avoiding talking about team movement and expansion.

With the uneven division in the league after re-organization, it seemed certain that the NHL was going to add two more teams at some point.

There were any number of cities that seemed to be interested with rumours of a team in Saskatchewan, Seattle, and Kansas City.

When it came down to the applications though the money was simply too high for cities that were not fully committed, as an application cost $10 million, some of which could be refunded if not chosen.

With that two cities submitted their application for an expansion franchise and they were the two cities that everyone had been talking about.

Las Vegas and Quebec City both submitted their applications and before doing that were already on their way to convincing the NHL that they deserved a shot.

In Quebec, they had built and NHL ready arena in hopes that the old Field of Dreams saying “If you build it they will come” would ring true.

That stadium is finished and is the current home of the Quebec Remparts of the CHL as the city hopes for another main tenant.

In Vegas, they took a slightly different approach holding a season ticket drive to show the level of interest and then taking a page from Quebec City and beginning construction on an NHL arena that is set to open in early April.hockey-sidebar

Both cities were clearly already fully into the idea of getting and NHL team and they both are currently still awaiting an official decision from the league in June.

It is almost sure that the GMs talked about the idea of either of these teams and gave their opinions but something more interesting came out of the meeting.

The NHL announced their plan for a potential expansion draft in 2017 should expansion actually happen.

The plan includes the ability to protect 7 forwards, 3 defencemen, and 1 goalie while the league has said that every team will lose one player per expansion team.

Young players, first or second-year players in the NHL or AHL, are reportedly exempt from the draft.

That leaves a very interesting debate for every team in the league especially the great teams with deep teams.

Anyone with two goalies that could be starters will likely lose one of them and will have to make a decision on who that is.

Meanwhile, it seems like a guarantee that every team will lose a second pairing defenceman or a third line forward.

In this era of the NHL where many teams like to roll through three lines and use their top two defensive pairing, a lot of teams will be set to lose at least one great player if not two.

The idea is a solid one as it may hurt your favourite team but how effective is expansion if a new team simply can’t compete for a number of years?

It also may be a sign that Las Vegas is on the inside track in expansion as a team in that city may not survive a few bad years but if they can compete within those first few they might have a good shot.

For individual teams this plan sucks but for the league as a whole, it makes complete sense as in a time where they are getting better they last thing they need is another failed franchise.

Overtime
(Other News this week in hockey)

Outside Pressure
The NFL made news this week when league officials admitted, for the first time, that football can be linked to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and that comment put pressure on the NHL to make the same statement but the league skirted the question during the GM meetings

Serving His Country
It is never an easy decision to give up the thing you love no matter how much time but Olli Maatta made that decision as he will leave the Penguins in April to fulfill his Finnish Army requirement for the next six months

Calling it Quits
In the same vein as Maatta, Brenden Morrow decided to leave the game but his was for good as after 16 years in the NHL and although he won’t get many accolades in retirement his grit and willingness to grind is sure to be missed

standings-w24.fw

Key Scores:
Washington Capitals 2 – 1 Carolina Hurricanes (OT)
– The Washington Capitals essentially ran away from everyone in the division and finally got what they deserved taking their first accomplishment in becoming the first to clinch a playoff spot this year after beating the Hurricanes in overtime

Philadelphia Flyers 3 – 2 Chicago Blackhawks
– The Blackhawks were struggling and the Flyers took full advantage winning the game and moving closer to a wild card spot as they continue to come back from a terrible start to their season

Colorado Avalanche 4 – 3 Calgary Flames (SO)
– The Avs have been a bit up and down but a shootout win against Calgary was their third in a row as they moved ahead of Minnesota and into a wild-card spot for the time being as they try to continue to momentum heading into the end of the year

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 1 Philadelphia Flyers
– The Battle of Pennsylvania has rarely been this important as both teams are fighting for a playoff spot in the east and needed this win to help them get closer to that goal but the Penguins took the win and moved into top three in the division

Next Week:
Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, March 20th; 8:30 pm ET)
– The Wild are trying to get back to the wild card as they continue their fight with Colorado while the Blackhawks are still trying to recover from a slump as they hope to find their way back to winning before the playoffs begin

Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders (Monday, March 21st; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Flyers are one of the few teams making a serious run at the playoffs and they continue to put up wins that get them closer to the wild card but they will get a true test of if they are ready taking on the Islanders who are fighting to get back to top three in the division

Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers (Wednesday, March 23rd; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Rangers are quickly falling out of the race for the division but they still have second place to compete for as they take on the Bruins who are fighting for the division lead in a very tight Atlantic division

Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche (Saturday, March 26th; 3:00 pm ET)
– For the Western Conference, this game is of the utmost importance as both teams seem to be the only teams that have a very good shot of a wild card spot but there is only one for them to compete for as they face-off again trying to get a point swing in that battle

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