NHL likely to use All-Canadian Division in 2021
Bill Foley spilled the beans about the NHL’s rumoured All-Canadian Division.
Foley, the owner of the Golden Knights, was doing an interview with KSHP Radio in Las Vegas and when the hosts asked him about trading defenceman Nate Schmidt to Vancouver, Foley mentioned that the Knights won’t face their former teammate because the Canucks would be playing in the Canadian Division.
“They’re going to play in the Canadian Division this year,” said Foley. “I don’t think that border’s going to be open before January 1st. I really don’t. Cause Canada’s got spikes going on, they’re starting to lock down again. Winnipeg’s locking down. Quebec has got spikes going down. I think they’re going to play in a Canadian division. I don’t think they’re going to cross the border.”
The All-Canadian Division will certainly be an interesting wrinkle to the league in 2021. There will be a challenge working around having teams playing in four different time zones but the benefit is that it’ll create an opportunity to build stronger rivalries between Canadian fans.
The All-Canadian Division and subsequent realignment has not yet been made official but it’s difficult to imagine the NHL doing anything else. The Canadian government surely won’t open the border for NHL players and the Players’ Association would likely be opposed to another multi-month bubble situation.
Brendan Gallagher stays in Montreal
Just yesterday, there was talk that Brendan Gallagher could be on the move.
The Montreal Canadiens had signed Tyler Toffoli as a free agent and it appeared as though he was being brought in to replace Gallagher, who the Habs would subsequently shop before he could hit free agency in 2021.
But that won’t be the case as the gritty winger has inked a six-year contract extension to stick around in Montreal long-term. The deal carries a $6.5 million cap hit, which is solid value for a player who’s just a year removed from breaking the 30-goal plateau with some of the best underlying numbers among forwards in the league.
Steven Stamkos was apparently asked to waive his no-trade clause
Elliotte Friedman mentioned in his 31 Thoughts column that he believes that the Tampa Bay Lightning have asked Steven Stamkos to waive his no-trade clause.
Stamkos carries a cap hit of $8,500,000 for four more seasons and moving him would help the Lightning navigate through their tricky salary cap situation. Along with Stamkos, the Lightning have nine different players with some kind of no-trade or no-move clause.
The Lightning proved this year that they could get the job done without Stamkos. He was injured for virtually all of their Stanley Cup run save for the one game against Dallas in the Final when he came back and scored a goal.
Stamkos is dealing with an abdominal injury right now and his future is in doubt. There’s no saying when he’ll be back to 100 percent, how he’ll look once he returns, or if this will be a nagging issue long-term. That said, I doubt Stamkos would waive his no-trade clause to leave Tampa. He took a pay cut to stick around there back in 2016 when the Leafs were courting him hard.
Joe Thornton signs in Switzerland
Joe Thornton doesn’t have an NHL gig yet, so he’s heading over to Switzerland to remain in shape.
Thornton has inked a deal with the Swiss club HC Davos to start the season though he still plans to re-join the NHL when play resumes in January.
There’s been talk that Thornton and the Toronto Maple Leafs have some mutual interest but Thornton is also very loyal to the San Jose Sharks. At 41 years of age, Thornton doesn’t have many cracks left at the Stanley Cup, so leaving the Sharks might be his best play.
Thornton has played for Davos in the past. During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, he helped Davos win the NLA Championship and won league MVP.