GM Meetings Roundup: Bettman outlines next steps for Senators ownership

Kyle Bukauskas, Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discuss what legacy Eugene Melnyk will leave behind in Ottawa, and wrap up the GM Meetings from Florida, discussing the specifics on next year's salary cap, the LTIR rules, and the no-trade clauses.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be discussing the future of the Ottawa Senators ownership with the late Eugene Melnyk's daughters and estate, he told reporters after the annual general managers meetings concluded in Palm Beach County, Fla., on Tuesday.

Although he didn't want to get into specifics, Bettman told reporters he'd be discussing next steps with Melnyk's daughters, Anna and Olivia, as well as the executor of Melnyk's estate. Bettman said an ownership structure has been in place and anticipated the franchise to continue operating as it has.

The questions arose out of concerns, given the debate around the Senators' failed attempts over the last few years to get approval for funding for a new arena, of the possibility that the franchise might be sold and moved to another city.

Other topics covered at the GMs meetings:

World Cup of Hockey: Deputy commissioner Bill Daly gave a presentation on the "very preliminary plans" for the next World Cup, which has been projected to take place in 2024. Neither Daly nor Bettman wanted to discuss details about the format, location or teams with Daly adding, "we've got to step it up because we're behind already." Daly added the current plan does not call for a reincarnation of the Team North America 23-and-under squad.

Long-term injury reserve: Bettman said LTIR was discussed with the GMs, but "nobody thinks it's been abused." The concern stems from teams over the years appearing to have abused LTIR in order to save cap space during the season and have those same players appear during the playoffs (e.g., Tampa Bay Lightning and Nikita Kucherov last season), as well as the recent doubts about the intentions around LTIR of the Vegas Golden Knights. Bettman said the system has worked well for 17 years and, after discussing it with the NHL Players' Association, "it's not a front-burner issue that's going to be addressed anytime soon."

NHL Draft is still happening: Bettman reiterated that the NHL Draft is still a go for Montreal, July 7-8, and will be held in person at the Bell Centre. Daly added that he didn't anticipate restrictions being placed on Russian players being drafted.

Officiating: Director of officiating Stephen Walkom gave a presentation to the GMs on how officials are trained, critiqued, etc., but nothing was discussed regarding the recent controversial calls. Bettman said there was "no pushback whatsoever" on the officiating presentation.

No-trade clauses: Daly said the NHL is looking into building a database for contracts that seemingly would include information on no-trade clauses. This move comes in the wake of the trade of Evgenii Dadonov by the Vegas Golden Knights to Anaheim being voided because Dadonov's no-trade clauses were not enforced.

Salary cap: GMs were told by the league that the salary cap is increasing $1 million, to $82.5 million for next season. The league considers $1 million to be a "flat" increase and is necessitated by the NHLPA still paying back escrow, which Bettman anticipated would be repaid after the 2024-45 season, which might enable a larger increase in the cap. Bettman said the league revenues were still expected, even given the pandemic challenges and restricted attendance by Canadian teams this season, to be over the $5 billion projected in December.

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