Report: NHL teams to pay 2020-21 signing bonuses as scheduled

NHL teams are expected to pay players' signing bonuses for the 2020-21 season as scheduled on July 1, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports.

Funds may not actually reach players until next week due to Canada Day on July 1 and Independence Day on July 4, McKenzie notes. He adds that players league-wide are owed more than $300 million in bonus money.

July 1 is the traditional opening of free agency, but the NHL and NHL Players' Association reportedly agreed earlier in June to extend all contracts expiring at the end of the 2019-20 season until Oct. 31 due to the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some players are set to collect massive bonuses, the most lucrative of which will go a triumvirate of Toronto Maple Leafs stars. Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner are each owed approximately $15 million.

Other notable players set to cash in are Carey Price ($13 million), Connor McDavid ($13 million), Artemi Panarin ($12 million), and Erik Karlsson ($10 million).

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Quinn Hughes thinks long layoff will help development of brother Jack

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes believes his brother Jack, a New Jersey Devils forward and the 2019 No. 1 overall pick, will benefit from the lengthy layoff.

The Devils were one of the league's seven teams that didn't qualify for the expanded 24-team playoff field. Their last game was in March, and with no start date for the 2020-21 season set in stone, they're going to go several months without playing any games.

"I think this is maybe the best thing that could ever happen for my brother if I'm being completely honest," Quinn said in a Zoom call on Monday. "I think that he's an unbelievable player and the only thing that was holding him back was how young he was.

"As an 18-year-old kid you're just not as strong. I think there's a huge difference between 18 and 20. There's still a lot of developing to do."

Jack was the consensus No. 1 overall pick his entire draft year and had tremendous hype surrounding him as he entered his rookie season. However, he struggled to adjust to life at the NHL level and produced just seven goals and 14 assists in 61 contests.

Quinn, on the other hand, made an immediate impact with the Canucks in his first full NHL season this year. The swift-skating blue-liner registered 53 points in 68 games while averaging over 21 minutes per night, making him a virtual lock to be a Calder Trophy finalist.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Report: Toronto, Edmonton to be hubs ‘barring any last-minute complications’

The Stanley Cup Playoffs could be held entirely north of the border this year.

Toronto and Edmonton will serve as the NHL's two hub cities "barring any last-minute complications," TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Wednesday.

As McKenzie notes, complications are not uncommon in this process. Vancouver, one of the final six teams in the running, bowed out last week. Las Vegas had also long been thought to be a front-runner. However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said recently that the league will weigh "every relevant consideration" before deciding where to resume its season following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

If it's made official, the Eastern Conference would play in Toronto and the Western Conference would go to Edmonton, according to The Athletic's Michael Russo. At one point, the league reportedly didn't want a team playing in its own hub city to avoid giving that club any advantage.

In Toronto, all players would stay in a 40-acre campus-like village on the grounds of Exhibition Place, which includes Toronto FC's BMO Field, the Toronto Raptors' OVO Athletic Centre, the Toronto Marlies' Coca-Cola Coliseum, and the 404-room Hotel X. Russo notes the hotel is not big enough to hold all 12 teams and their support staff, so the bubble may extend into a downtown hotel.

In Edmonton, there would be a multiple-block bubble that includes the JW Marriott hotel, the Sutton Place Hotel, Rogers Arena, and its accompanying practice facility. A wall would literally be built around the bubble, sources told Russo.

There are still many details to sort out before the league reveals its hub cities.

"Right now, the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association do not look as though they are going to announce the identity of the hub cities until they've got the entire return-to-play protocol and a new CBA all agreed to, at least pending player approval," McKenzie said on Tuesday's edition of "Insider Trading."

It was reported last week that the NHL and NHLPA are nearing an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Orr tabs Crosby as top-5 player in NHL history: ‘Sid belongs on that list’

Legendary defenseman Bobby Orr believes Sidney Crosby is one of the top five players to ever lace up the skates.

Orr himself is almost unanimously considered one of the top five players of all time, usually sharing the distinction with Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Gordie Howe. According to Orr, Crosby belongs right beside them.

"Please, please," Orr told The Athletic's Josh Yohe. "I want you to be very comfortable putting Sidney Crosby's name with the rest of us. Just trust me on that one. He's so, so special."

He continued: "First of all, if you ask those other guys on the list, I know that they'll tell you the same thing I'm about to tell you. Sid belongs on that list. Sure, there's the talent that he has and the drive. But look at what he's been through. That tells me something. Look at the injuries he's dealt with, especially earlier in his career. He's been beat up, hurt, been through so, so much. And through it all, look at what he's accomplished.

"He's won all of those Cups. He's won the Olympics. Scored the goal to win it, in fact. The World Cups he's won. The numbers he's put up. Everything he's done. He's one of the greatest hockey players of all time."

Concussions limited Crosby to a combined 63 games in his age-23 and age-24 seasons, but the Pittsburgh Penguins captain has still produced one of the greatest resumes the NHL has ever seen. With 1,263 points in 984 regular-season contests, Crosby ranks sixth in league history with 1.28 points per game. He owns three Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe Trophies, two Olympic gold medals, two Hart Trophies, two Art Ross Trophies, and two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies.

Crosby, who turns 33 in August, has cemented his status as one of the best in the eyes of Orr, but he's not the only modern star to receive praise from the eight-time Norris Trophy winner. Orr declared in May that Edmonton Oilers dynamo Connor McDavid has the potential to become the best player of all time.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Leafs’ Andersen unsure of NHL’s resumption: ’11th hour is coming’

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen isn't certain that NHL hockey will be played this summer.

Andersen told reporters during a conference call Tuesday that he's "not 100 percent confident" in the league's ability to return to action, according to The Athletic's Joshua Kloke.

"We don't have enough information yet," Andersen added. "The league and (players' association) are still ironing things out. The 11th hour is coming up here."

Though he's not convinced it will happen, Andersen was adamant about his desire to return.

"I want to play," he said, according to The Athletic's Jonas Siegel. "I don't want to just sit and waste the summer and the season."

Andersen had been isolating in Arizona with Auston Matthews, who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. He added that he left the state before its virus spike to train in California and is now quarantining in Toronto, according to the Canadian Press' Joshua Clipperton.

The 30-year-old is coming off his worst regular season with the Maple Leafs. He went 29-13-7 with a .909 save percentage, a 2.85 goals-against average, and three shutouts.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Sharks’ Kane: NHL doesn’t market minority players enough

San Jose Sharks forward and Hockey Diversity Alliance co-head Evander Kane believes the league does a poor job of promoting diversity.

"As minorities in the NHL and coming through hockey, we've been undervalued and we've been overlooked," he said Monday during a video call with the committee, per UNINTERRUPTED. "It's baffling to me that that's still going on. And it's gone on ever since I've been in the league."

Joining Kane on the call was fellow co-head and former NHLer Akim Aliu, filmmaker Charles Officer, and members of the executive board: Wayne Simmonds, Trevor Daley, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Chris Stewart, Anthony Duclair, and Joel Ward.

"I look at the group that we have here on the screen, and it's concerning," Kane continued. "You would think that you would want to use us and present us as minorities in such a white sport in a great light and use it to your advantage to create a more diverse game because that, at the end of the day, is what is going to sell."

Kane thinks the NHL's lack of diversity is part of the reason why its the least profitable league among the four major sports.

"You look at other leagues like the NBA and the NFL and how diverse they are and why they are generating significantly more revenue than our league. Because I'll be the first person to tell you hockey is by far the greatest game. It's the hardest sport. I think we as athletes deserve to get paid the most. And why is it that we aren't? Part of that issue, and a big part of it, is because we are not a diverse sport."

NHL players made an average of $2.69 million in 2019-20, according to Statista, trailing behind the NBA ($8.32 million), MLB ($4.03 million), and NFL ($3.26 million).

The greatest discrepancy is seen among each sport's highest-paid athletes.

Sport Player AAV
NBA John Wall $42.8M
MLB Gerrit Cole $36M
NFL Russell Wilson $35M
NHL Connor McDavid $12.5M

(Salary source: Spotrac)

The Hockey Diversity Alliance was created on June 8 to help combat racism in hockey and in society as a whole.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Top 5 saves of the 2019-20 season

With the 2019-20 regular season officially in the books, it's time to relive some of the best moments of the campaign. After breaking down the top five goals of the season on Monday, let's take a look at the year's top five saves.

5. Carter Hart robs Mikko Rantanen

A defenseman doesn't have much time to think when two of the most menacing wingers in the league are bearing down on a two-on-one. Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog provided Rantanen the puck on a platter, but Hart showed off his quick glove hand to bail out his Philadelphia Flyers teammates.

4. Devan Dubnyk whips out the windmill

Dubnyk didn't waste any time setting a high bar, making his bid for save of the year in the Minnesota Wild's first game of the campaign. He was clearly dialed all the way in, robbing Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund with a superb windmill glove save. It was an early beauty, but it didn't hold up as the best of the season.

3. Tuukka Rask did what?!

Year in and year out, Rask conjures all sorts of magical saves. This season was no different. With a completely wide-open net behind him, the Boston Bruins netminder somehow sprawled to deny the Buffalo Sabres an easy goal, whacking the puck out of midair with his blocker hand. Who needs a glove anyway?

2. Antti Raanta is the scorpion king

If you have the puck on your stick a few feet in front of the net and the opposing goalie is flat on his stomach, there's not much that can stop you from scoring. Unless that goalie is Raanta. The Arizona Coyotes netminder showed off a deadly combination of reflexes and flexibility against the Chicago Blackhawks, unleashing the scorpion to keep the puck out of the net.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury shocks Maple Leafs with incredible diving save

The Toronto Maple Leafs rode a five-game losing streak into this matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights. Down by a goal in the dying minutes of regulation, Toronto appeared to be on the verge of a turnaround as Nic Petan found a juicy rebound with a completely empty net in front of him. Fleury had other plans, though. The three-time Stanley Cup champion made this stunning diving grab, securing the win for Vegas and locking down save of the year honors.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

O’Reilly: 24-team playoff will be ‘toughest tournament’ we’ll ever play

Ryan O'Reilly knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. He took home the Conn Smythe Trophy last season after leading the St. Louis Blues on a miracle run to the title. And if the NHL proceeds with its 24-team postseason, he believes it will be a grueling tournament like nothing seen before.

"Every team is starting from scratch. Every team that's involved in this right now is looking that they have an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, so it's going to be one of the toughest stretches of hockey that any of us will ever be in and the toughest tournament that any of us - it's like nothing else," O'Reilly said Monday.

"It's going to be extremely difficult - I think as a group we know that. We know it's going to be completely different from last year. We're not coming in finishing a season playing very well and having momentum and coming in. We're all starting at the same point."

The Blues looked to have a good chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions this season, entering the shutdown on March 12 sitting first in the Western Conference. As a result, St. Louis is guaranteed a berth in the 16-team postseason and will play a round-robin tournament against the conference's other top three teams to determine playoff seeding.

O'Reilly, 29, is eager to finish the campaign and ensure the work players have put in to this point doesn't go to waste, though he knows that's easier said than done.

"There's so many things that will be unfortunate - being away from our families, being confined in these small spaces. But I think it's important for our game - the growth of it - to be able to salvage this season and have a winner, not let the whole thing go to waste," he said. "But again, the priority is the safety and the safety of our families, the guys, whether they've had young kids or have kids ... that's definitely the priority.

"But I think the NHL's doing a good job putting in good practices to help us make sure nothing happens. But again, there's still a lot of uncertainty."

O'Reilly was enjoying another strong season before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted his second year with the Blues. He recorded 12 goals and 49 assists in 71 games.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.