3:39 PM ET
- Pierre LeBrunESPN Senior Writer Close
- Covers the NHL for ESPN.com and TSN in Canada
- Six years on the "Hockey Night In Canada" Hotstove panel
- 13 years at The Canadian Press national news agency
BOCA RATON, Florida — Here's a roundup of what happened during the final day of the annual general managers' meetings here Wednesday.
Olympics talks stalling
As one GM joked to ESPN.com, the league's Olympic update to GMs this week lasted 38 seconds. Except, he wasn't really joking.
"Nothing new," Bettman said about the NHL's players participating in next year's Winter Olympics. "There is absolutely nothing new. I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it's very disruptive on the season and there is somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject."
Is there a deadline for a decision to be made?
"Not that we're going to set," said Bettman, adding that there were no meetings currently scheduled with the IOC and/or the IIHF.
Until further notice, Bettman said the league is operating under the impression that next season won't have an Olympic break.
"We're focused on a schedule that doesn't include the Olympics," said Bettman. "It doesn't mean that if something dramatic happened at some point in time, obviously that could get too late, but there's nothing for us to do right now because there is nothing happening."
What Bettman wouldn't say but I will speculate is that the league needs something tangible to be put on the table from both the NHLPA and the IOC in order to convince owners who currently don't want to shut down their season for more than two weeks for the South Korea Games.
To which the players would respond their desire to participate again in the Olympics providing there's a proper framework with the IOC and all parties should be enough. The players have been clear that they want to play in the Olympics.
Protected lists were, er, protected
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said most GMs want to keep private the protective lists ahead of the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. So, it appears, barring how the NHLPA feels about it, that the league won't reveal those lists. Which is too bad, given the interest fans have in the process and seeing who has and hasn't been protected by their teams.
No change to the offside rule
The offside rule won't be changed despite the angst some video reviews have caused when a player's skate is off the ice while crossing the blue line.
"One of the things we want to do particularly on the offside is speed up the process a little bit, not just in terms of the review, because you want to get the review right, but how much time there is for a coach to decide if he is challenging," Bettman said Wednesday. "We want to move the game along. But in terms of accuracy, particularly on the offside, it's been terrific. They're getting it right."
Goalie concussion protocol is 'working'
There was a small discussion about the concussion protocol in the aftermath of Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith being pulled from a close game by a spotter and not being cleared until the game was almost over, which drew heavy criticism from Smith.
Despite the concerns, it is status quo as it pertains to the protocol, Daly confirmed Wednesday. The league doesn't see any point in changing anything right now.
"I think we had that discussion yesterday and the protocol is working," Bettman said, echoing Daly. "It's interesting because if you get pulled under the protocol and it turns out you didn't have a concussion, it doesn't mean the protocol is not working. But the numbers are consistent with what we expected and it's being enforced particularly with the centralized spotter and it's working well."
Salary cap not expected to change much
Daly provided GMs with a brief update on next season's salary cap.
"No new financial numbers that have come in from then until now would indicate anything," said Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. "The same parameters that were indicated then are the thought process now."
Which is to say, either a flat cap or a nudge above, up to $3 million. Not much, either way. The cap will depend on the negotiation with the NHLPA after the season once again as it pertains to whether or not to include the five percent inflator in the numbers used to calculate the salary cap. The salary cap this season is $73 million; the floor is $54 million.
Swedes want the kids to stay home longer
A delegation of top Swedish hockey officials presented Wednesday a very polite yet clear message: please keep our kids home in Sweden until they're ready to play in the NHL.
About 50 Swedish players are currently in the AHL and what Swedish officials asked GMs was to consider keeping more of those prospects in the Swedish League to develop, rather than bring them to the AHL. This would also enable fans in Sweden to see young players more.
"The point they're making is true, they've developed a lot of players over there that stayed over a couple of extra years and when they came over, went straight to the NHL and were pretty impactful players," said New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.
"I don't want to talk from both sides of our mouth because we've done it both ways — we've kept guys over there and had success with that, but at the same time had players playing in Sweden who weren't playing a lot. Maybe they were the odd man out, sometimes getting scratched, sometimes playing five minutes a game. We took control of that situation and brought them over. So it's a little bit of both."
GMs seem to understand the point the Swedish officials were making, and while they all respect the Swedish league's track record in developing players, there are also cases in which NHL teams feel more comfortable having their prospects in the AHL.
"I'm just speaking on our organization's behalf, but the only concern that I would have is that the Swedish league is a pro league and it's a great developmental league, they put a lot of emphasis on development, but it's also about winning. Coaches are under tremendous pressure," said Finnish native and Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
"So when you've invested a lot in a first-round pick or a second-round pick and you see that the coaches there choose to go with a veteran player because they don't want their team to get relegated . … Winning is important to us too in our development, but I think we have a great balance of winning and development in the American league. The only concern I would have [in having a player in Sweden] is that our player gets the ice time he deserves."
One can't imagine the AHL was too excited to hear about the Swedish presentation. I asked AHL president David Andrews via text message for his reaction:
"We are confident that NHL general managers will do what they believe is best for the development of their players," wrote Andrews. "With almost 90 percent of NHL players, most NHL coaches and all NHL officials having gained professional experience in the AHL, it seems clear that we are providing the right competitive environment."
Added Sabres GM Tim Murray: "The AHL is the best development league."
To me, this simply is a case-by-case basis when a team decides what to do with a Swedish prospect. If he's 19 years old and clearly isn't going to be an NHL player that season, and his Swedish club can guarantee a proper role on the team, then why not leave him home to further develop? Henrik Zetterberg and Henrik Lundqvist both benefited from playing pro in Sweden a year or two before joining the NHL.
On the flip side, if it's a 22-year-old prospect who might get a recall to the NHL, it probably makes more sense to have him in North America.