The NHL is inching closer to deciding how and when to proceed with the 2020-21 season, here’s what the means for the New York Islanders.
On Tuesday NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke about how the 2020-21 NHL season might unfold. That’s right, we’re edging towards the middle of November and we still don’t know when the New York Islanders and the other 30 NHL teams will hit the ice for the 2020-21 NHL season or how that season will be played exactly.
By this time in the calendar, we are some 20% of the way through the regular season. But it’s November 10 and we still don’t know when that regular season will start and what it might look like when it does.
With the NBA deciding to start their 2020-21 season on December 22, the pressure has been ramped up on the NHL and the NHLPA to figure out what they’re going to do. On Tuesday, Gary Bettman revealed what the league is considering at the moment.
Here are some key takeaways from the commissioner’s statement.
I mentioned realignment the other day. With the border between the US and Canada closed, for the time being, travel between the two countries can’t take place. That makes things difficult for three of the NHL’s Division that have Canadian teams within their ranks. The only division without a Canadian team is the Islanders Metropolitan Division.
Now, the Commissioner didn’t discuss how the divisions would be realigned, but it stands to reason that the Metro would have to be re-shaped. Carolina and Columbus could very well be pulled out with Boston and Buffalo taking their spots.
Losing Carolina is a plus, they always seem to play well against the Islanders, unless Thomas Greiss is in nets. Getting Boston, the best team in the 19-20 regular season, is a definite negative. The Islanders just don’t play well against the Bruins.
Hubs/ Inter-Divisional Play
Bettman indicated that long-travel between markets isn’t something that makes a lot of sense. He used Florida to California as an example. Which would indicate that teams are going to stick to their divisions.
While that may not be as tight of a bubble as the NHL had for the playoffs, it’s still a bubble of sorts. According to Bettman, teams would meet in a hub, play x-number of games, leave for a week, and then come back:
"“You’ll play for 10 to 12 days,” Bettman explained during the conference. “You’ll play a bunch of games without travelling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need."
Plying strictly within their division isn’t too much of a worry for the Islanders. Over the last two seasons with Barry Trotz behind the bench, the Isles have gone 26-15-5 against Metropolitan Division teams. That’s a 0.619 points percentage, not bad. Of course, that’s not with Boston and Buffalo in the mix.
Closer to Moves
The closer we get to the NHL season being sorted out, the closer we get to potential roster moves.
We haven’t seen anything from the New York Islanders since Ryan Pulock was extended at the end of October. It’s been radio silence ever since. We expect the Islanders to offload at least one of their big contracts to make way for Mathew Barzal and open up some cap space for some other depth moves. But that may not happen until teams know when they’ll be back on the ice.
When NHL and NHLPA can come to an agreement on when the season may start and how that season looks like, Lou Lamoriello will get back to working the phones to move someone like Johnny Boychuk. A move that may very well include both second-round picks acquired in the Devon Toews trade.