With Playoffs Complete, Busy NHL Off-Season Begins
NEW YORK -- Just because the Stanley Cup has been awarded doesn't mean the end credits have rolled on the 2013-14 NHL season.
There are a number of big events coming in the next few weeks that will go a long way toward deciding which team is the final one standing a year from now.
The hard work started Monday when the window opened for teams to offer compliance buyouts to players. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams were given two special buyout provisions that allow them to buy out a player's contract while not having it count toward the salary cap. And those compliance buyouts only could be used following the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on June 30 to decide to use a compliance buyout. The Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs have previously used their two compliance buyouts. The Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals all have used one.
In addition to dealing with their current roster, NHL teams also will get to look to the future at the 2014 NHL Draft, to be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The first round starts Friday at 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN). Rounds 2-7 start will start Saturday at 10 a.m. ET (NHLN-US).
The Florida Panthers have the top pick, but Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said he is open to trading the selection if the right offer came along.
The Buffalo Sabres have the No. 2 pick, followed by the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders.
The Anaheim Ducks have two first-round picks, the Ottawa Senators' pick at No. 10 and their pick at No. 24. The Tampa Bay Lightning also have two picks in the first 30, their choice at No. 19 and the New York Rangers' pick at No. 28.
Among the top prospects are Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett, Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart and Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl.
Once the draft settles comes the start of free agency at noon ET on July 1. Among the top unrestricted free agents expected to be available are forwards Marian Gaborik, Thomas Vanek, Jarome Iginla, Paul Stastny and Matt Moulson. Among the top defensemen are Matt Niskanen, Andrei Markov, Dan Boyle and Anton Stralman. Available goaltenders include Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, Martin Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov.
Also becoming available if not signed by July 1 will be an impressive class of restricted free agents, a list topped by 2013 Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. Also open to offer sheets are forwards Derick Brassard of the Rangers, Ryan O'Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets; defensemen Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins and Danny DeKeyser of the Detroit Red Wings; and goaltenders Darcy Kuemper of the Minnesota Wild and James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There will be some fun had among the hard work with the NHL Awards on June 24 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). The show will be broadcast from the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, the recently named host of NHL on Rogers.
Among the awards presented will be the Hart Trophy for League MVP (finalists are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers; the Norris Trophy for the League's best defenseman (finalists are the Bruins' Zdeno Chara, the Blackhawks' Duncan Keith and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators); and the Vezina Trophy for top goaltender (finalists are Ben Bishop of the Lightning, the Bruins' Tuukka Rask and the Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov.