Proof the NHL is thinking well outside the box right now does not just come from the fact it appears ready to hold an entry draft before trying to finish the season.
The league is even willing to allow teams to rework trades involving conditional 2020 picks — a surprising and unusual concession as it builds a case for going ahead with an early-June draft.
That nugget was included in Friday night’s memo from deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who indicated that the NHL would propose solutions to every conditional trade while also allowing the teams up to seven days to go back and work out something different on their own.
In theory, that means a third-round pick in a previously completed transaction could be changed to a specific prospect instead. Or maybe teams would want to alter the conditions included in a deal or the years attached to certain picks.
This is a peace offering from the NHL to the teams that voiced concerns about how these trade conditions might be interpreted or applied amid an incomplete season. The league doesn’t view that issue as a major hurdle and is willing to allow some history to be rewritten if it helps general managers start looking at a June draft in a more favourable way.
Many of these deals appear to offer relatively simple fixes.
Here’s a detailed look at every trade involving conditional 2020 picks, ranked from the easiest to toughest to resolve in the event the NHL goes ahead with the draft before another game is played.
Trade: Philadelphia Flyers trade Kyle Criscuolo and the better of Philadelphia’s two fourth-round picks in 2020 (Philadelphia’s own fourth or Nashville’s fourth, previously acquired by Philadelphia) to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Derek Grant.
Analysis: Simply transfer the Nashville fourth-rounder to Anaheim. It’s the better of the two picks.
Trade: Ottawa Senators trade Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders in exchange for the Islanders’ 2020 first-round pick. This draft pick is top-3 lottery-protected. Should the Islanders’ 2020 first become a top-3 pick, Ottawa will receive the Islanders’ 2021 first-round pick.
The Islanders shall also transfer their 2020 second-round pick; and a conditional third-round pick (the Islanders’ own pick) in the 2022 NHL Draft. Ottawa will receive the 2022 third-rounder if the Islanders win the 2020 Stanley Cup.
Analysis: Since the Islanders are ineligible to win a lottery pick under the NHL’s proposed rules for this draft, they can transfer the 21st-overall selection to Ottawa.
Trade: Vancouver Canucks trade Marek Mazanec, Vancouver’s 2019 third-round pick (No. 71) and Vancouver’s 2020 first-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for JT Miller. If Vancouver does not make the 2020 playoffs, the pick converts to Vancouver’s 2021 first-round selection.
New Jersey Devils trade Blake Coleman to Tampa Bay in exchange for Nolan Foote and Vancouver’s first-round pick in the 2020 or 2021 NHL Draft (previously acquired by Tampa Bay). New Jersey will receive Vancouver’s first-rounder in 2020 or 2021 per the below conditions of the Tampa Bay-Vancouver trade on June 22, 2019: If Vancouver makes the 2020 playoffs, it transfers its 2020 first-round pick to Tampa Bay. If not, the pick converts to Vancouver’s 2021 first-round selection.
Analysis: The Canucks held a Western Conference playoff spot when the season was paused and would receive the 18th pick under the NHL’s proposed plan to determine the order of selection using points percentage by conference. That pick should be transferred to New Jersey, via Tampa Bay, to satisfy the conditions on both the Miller and Coleman trades.
Trade: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Patrick Marleau, a conditional first-round pick in 2020 or 2021 and their 2020 seventh-round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Carolina’s 2020 sixth-round pick. Should Toronto’s 2020 first-rounder fall within picks 1-10, they will instead transfer their own 2021 first-round pick.
Carolina trades the later of either its 2020 first-round pick or Toronto’s 2020 first-round pick (previously conditionally acquired by Carolina) to the New York Rangers in exchange for Brady Skjei. In the event Carolina does not own Toronto’s 2020 first, then the Rangers will acquire Carolina’s 2020 first.
Analysis: There isn’t much to debate here. Under the NHL’s proposed plan, Toronto is due to receive the 19th pick and would therefore see its 2020 selection transferred to the Hurricanes to complete the Marleau deal. Carolina’s own selection is No. 23 — the later of the two first-round picks — so that would then be flipped to the Rangers as per the terms of the Skjei deal.
Trade: New Jersey Devils trade Taylor Hall and Blake Speers to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Kevin Bahl, Nick Merkley, Nate Schnarr, a conditional first-round pick in 2020 and a conditional third-round pick in 2021.
Arizona shall transfer its own 2020 first to New Jersey. However, in the event Arizona’s own 2020 first falls within picks 1-3, the Coyotes will keep their 2020 first and will instead transfer their 2021 first-rounder to New Jersey.
Arizona shall transfer its own 2021 third-round pick to New Jersey. However, in the event Arizona should 1) sign Taylor Hall to an NHL Standard Player’s Contract covering the 2020-21 season and 2) Arizona advances to the second round of the 2019-20 NHL playoffs, then Arizona will instead transfer its own 2021 first-round pick to New Jersey instead of the 2021 third. Alternatively, in the event only one of the two preceding criteria is met, Arizona will instead transfer its own 2021 second-round pick instead of the 2021 third.
Analysis: Arizona has the 10th-best lottery odds and would move up four spots if it won, per the rules put forward by the league. That means Arizona can only end up with the sixth, 10th or 11th-overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft — each outside the top-three — which should allow that pick to be transferred to the Devils as part of the Hall trade.
Trade: Minnesota Wild trade Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison and Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in either 2020 or 2021. In the event Pittsburgh does not qualify for the 2020 playoffs, Pittsburgh will have the option to transfer either its own 2020 first-round pick or its own 2021 first-round pick. The option will expire at 5 p.m. ET on June 1, and should Pittsburgh not elect to defer its pick, then the 2020 first-rounder will be transferred.
For avoidance of doubt, should Pittsburgh qualify for the 2020 playoffs, they will transfer their own 2020 first-round pick to Minnesota.
Analysis: Pittsburgh is a playoff team. Full stop. Transfer the 25th pick to Minnesota and close the book on the Zucker deal.
Trade: Columbus Blue Jackets trade Markus Hannikainen to Arizona in exchange for a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick. Columbus receives this pick if Hannikainen plays 10 NHL regular season games, from this date onward in the 2019-20 NHL season.
Analysis: Hannikainen was assigned directly to AHL Tucson after this trade and hadn’t received a sniff from the Coyotes, who were left with 12 games when the season was paused. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he would’ve seen action in 10 of those after not playing an NHL game all season. Maybe Arizona just keeps its pick?
Trade: Detroit Red Wings trade Mike Green to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Kyle Brodziak and a conditional fourth-round pick. Edmonton will transfer its 2020 fourth, unless the Oilers advance to the third round of the 2020 playoffs and Green plays in 50 per cent or more of Edmonton’s cumulative games during the first two rounds. If that happens, Edmonton will instead transfer its 2020 third-round pick to Detroit.
Analysis: This is a deal that likely needs to be reworked by the teams. The fourth-rounder could be delayed to 2021, pending Edmonton’s 2020 playoff performance, or perhaps an entirely different set of conditions are agreed upon.
Trade: San Jose Sharks trade Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Colorado’s 2020 second-round pick (previously acquired by Washington) and a conditional 2021 third-round pick (Washington’s own). In the event the Capitals win the 2020 Stanley Cup, they will transfer Arizona’s 2020 third-round pick (previously acquired by Washington) instead of their own 2021 third-rounder.
Analysis: Another candidate to be reworked, although it shouldn’t be overly complicated.
Trade: New Jersey trades Sami Vatanen to Carolina in exchange for Janne Kuokkanen, Fredrik Claesson and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick. If Vatanen plays five NHL regular season games in 2019-20, New Jersey receives Carolina’s 2020 fourth. If Vatanen plays 12 NHL regular season games in 2019-20, or plays in 70 per cent of Carolina’s 19-20 playoff games, New Jersey will receive Carolina’s 2020 third instead.
Analysis: Vatanen was injured when this trade was consummated and suffered a setback after arriving in Carolina, so he hasn’t yet played for the Hurricanes. However, it’s still possible he would have skated in five regular season games and/or 70 per cent of playoff games for Carolina — and it’s probably even more likely to happen now that he’s had extra time to heal, assuming the season can be completed in some form. That’s why this feels like a trade that will have to be reformed by the teams. Perhaps they’ll choose to push the conditional picks back to 2021, pending what happens this summer?
Trade: Edmonton trades Milan Lucic and a conditional 2020 third-round pick to the Calgary Flames in exchange for James Neal. In the event both of the following conditions are met, Edmonton will transfer its own 2020 third-rounder:
• James Neal scores 21 or more goals during the 2019-20 NHL regular season
• The difference in the number of goals scored by James Neal in the 2019-20 NHL regular season compared to the number of goals scored by Milan Lucic in the 2019-20 NHL regular season is +10 (plus ten) or greater.
Analysis: If we were to sum this one up in emoji form, it would get the “side eyes.” Neal sat on 19 goals (in 55 games) when the season was paused while Lucic had eight — totals that, if prorated, would meet the conditions requiring Edmonton to send a third-rounder to its biggest rival. But should those goal totals even be prorated? Taken at face value, Neal didn’t score the 21 goals needed to satisfy the first condition. I’m not sure there is a completely fair solution here, which is why a rare Battle of Alberta trade is arguably the murkiest involving conditional 2020 picks.
Trade: Chicago Blackhawks trade Erik Gustafsson to Calgary in exchange for the earlier draft choice between Calgary’s 2020 third-round pick or Edmonton’s 2020 third-round pick (previously conditionally acquired by Calgary).
Analysis: A quick addendum to the Neal trade, although not nearly so grey. Whether or not Calgary gets the Edmonton pick, its own third-round selection would be the earlier of the two based on point percentage when the season was paused. Easy enough.