NHL GM Meetings Wrap-Up
Annual NHL GM Meetings have wrapped up after three days of discussion and deliberation in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the time of year when General Managers can debate hot button topics in attempt to improve the game as a whole.
Among the biggest issues this time around was offsides/coach’s challenge, goal scoring, draft lottery restrictions, and the potential of increasing the age a player can be drafted.
Announced early in the week, the NHL has opted to install cameras along the blueline in time for postseason action. The thought process surrounding the change is that it should help speed up the play by limiting coach’s challenge with the offering of a better angle to see the play.
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Buzz surrounded proposed changes to goaltending equipment in hopes of increasing goal scoring. The keyword being used is “streamlining”. It’s unclear exactly how much change we can expect, but it sounds as though the adjustments to the manufacturing process will be immediate.
If prototypes can be made quickly enough, goaltenders should be in line to unveil it in 2016-17. The league also announced the proposal of hefty fines/or suspensions for violations of equipment size. Proposed changes are intended to reward goaltenders who have more athleticism.
NHL’s Smaller Goaltenders
Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks (6’2 167lbs)
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (6’2 176lbs)
Jhonas Enroth, Los Angeles Kings (5’10 171lbs)
Jean-Francois Berube, New York Islanders (6’1 177lbs)
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins (6’4 178lbs)
Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh Penguins (6’2 179lbs)
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins (6’2 180lbs)
Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders (5’11 181lbs)
Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs (6’0 185lbs)
Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings (6’2 183lbs)
If the intention of streamlining goalie equipment is an attempt for more goals scored, the Pittsburgh Penguins are in trouble with three of the NHL’s smallest goaltenders. Luckily, Fleury and Murray both have enough athleticism to likely go unfazed by changes.
Several rumblings heading into these meetings was the possibility of changes to the draft lottery format. Discussions were had, but no changes implemented thus far. No surprise here, as we are yet to see the impact of the most recent adjustments.
If the Oilers walk away with another first overall pick, an “Edmonton Rule” should be expected to be enforced in the near future.
When you play around with the NHL Draft Lottery simulator, it becomes evident quickly that the new format promises to yield unexpected results more often than not. Toronto and Edmonton might finish in the bottom two spots and walk into June’s draft picking 4th and 5th overall.
A new topic proposed at this year’s meetings was the age at which players are drafted. New proposals are suggesting the NHL move the age up to 19-years-old. The idea is that an extra year of scouting can be helpful with these teenagers still growing, developing, and maturing.
That year of difference can be absolutely massive for some prospects. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of CHL players statistics in their draft year, and compare it their totals the season after being taken. Most 17-year-old teenagers are buried in the bottom six with CHL clubs seeing far less ice-time. As older players graduate from CHL hockey, the 18/19-year-old players step up in their final year or two.
Realistically the NHL has two options to combat this issue. First, as proposed above, you simply increase draft eligibility by one year. The second choice may actually be the league’s best options, which suggests the NHL allow teams to develop CHL talent immediately in the minors (AHL, ECHL).
For example, instead of putting Toronto in a corner with Mitch Marner where the choice is to keep him or send him back to junior (both of which could hurt his development), the Maple Leafs have the choice to let him marinate with the Marlies.
There are several examples similar to Mitch Marner where teams would much prefer to allow talent develop with men within a pro style system. If NHL organizations had this option at their disposal, less 18-20 years old would be occupying spots on CHL clubs, thus allowing the draft eligible prospects to assume bigger roles, and more ice-time.