NHL will reportedly push expiring contracts to the end of 2019-20 season

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues, NHL. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues, NHL. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

As the NHL slowly makes progress towards a season resumption, the league is making sure expiring free agents are still under contract for the rest of the season.

While there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the NHL as reports of a 24-team playoff format have begun to surface, it seems as though player contracts expiring on June 30 will not be an issue.

According to a report from Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required), the intention for the NHL “is to agree on a slide with the NHL Players’ Association, which would uniformly extend all contracts through the end of the 2019-20 season.”

Basically if a contract is set to expire on the normal expiration date of June 30, that player would still a member of their respective team when the season presumptively returns and will not need to sign a new contract.

This extension would affect all 337 upcoming free agents including notable unrestricted free agents such as Alex Pietrangelo, Taylor Hall, Braden Holtby, Robin Lehner, Torey Krug, and Mike Hoffman. This would also affect minor league players on two-way contracts. A new date for free agency is still yet to established.

This resolution was never really in doubt barring a catastrophic fallout between the NHL and NHLPA. The tricky part however doesn’t lie with the players, but rather with coaches and other staff members on expiring contracts, as there is no collective representation like there is with the players’ association.

General managers are able to address each situation individually, but there is no direction from the league at this moment. However, Russo reports that “there has been talk that the league will work towards trying to support clubs in extending staff contracts to capture the days beyond June 30th.”

When it comes to head coaches across the league, there is no full-time coach on the rumored 24 returning teams that is currently on an expiring contract that would need to be extended. However there are three interim coaches with Rick Bowness in Dallas, Dean Evason in Minnesota, and Geoff Ward in Calgary, but Russo states that it is believed that there will be no issues with these coaches completing the season.

As for teams amateur scouts, there is still no answer as to whether or not the 2020 NHL Entry Draft will be taking place in June like it’s rumored to be, or if it will take place after the Stanley Cup has been handed out and the season has concluded. If their contracts can’t be extended past June 30, then teams could possibly be going into the draft blind in certain areas without key members of their staff.

While this is far from the biggest issue that the NHL is facing as they look towards resuming the season, it’s just another hurdle that they still need to clear in order to resume the season as efficiently as possible.

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