King and The Goat
A Five Minute Major Upgrade to Your Inbox
Dec. 31: Training camp starts for the 7 non-playoff teams.
Jan. 3: Training camp starts for remaining 24 teams.
Jan. 13: 2020-21 NHL regular season starts.
April 12: Expected date for the 2021 NHL trade deadline.
May 8: End of the regular season.
May 11: Beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
July 15: NHL is aiming to complete the playoffs by this date.
July 21: 2021 NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken.
July 23-24: 2021 NHL draft.
July 28: Start of NHL free agency.
One Big Thing: The King
What’s Happening: A heart condition will prohibit Henrik Lundqvist from joining his new team, the Washington Capitals, for the 2021 season, multiple sources reported last week. In a video posted on the Capitals social media, Lundqvist said the decision was made “after lots of discussions with doctors around the country.”
Tell Me More: During his time with the Rangers, Lundqvist often didn’t deserve the post season results he got, and if this is the end of his run, it’s an imperfect ending to a historic career, New York Post’s Larry Brooks writes. “As if we needed it in 2020, we received another jolt and another reminder of our mortality, how precious our time is and our obligation to maximize life while we have the opportunity. And we receive this reminder not from a death, but from the medical condition of an all-time professional athlete whose career is, just like that, likely over.”
Lundqvist’s list of accomplishments is lengthy. He’s a five-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, winning the award given to the NHL's top goaltender in 2011-12. He’s played in 887 regular season games, 130 in the playoffs and brought Sweden an Olympic gold medal in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy — just to name a few.
Up Next: Lundqvist’s departure leaves Capitals brass with some decisions to make in goal. The starting job is former first round pick Ilya Samsonov’s to lose, but there are also other options within the Capitals system. Phoenix Copley has 29 NHL games under his belt, most of which came during a successful campaign in the 2018-2019 season when he backed up Braden Holtby. The other option is Vitek Vanecek, a former second round pick who has had immense success in the AHL with the Hershey Bears.
Outside Options: Cory Schneider, Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, Ryan Miller.
Our Take: If there was ever a year to give young talent a chance to shine, it’s this one.
Here’s why: Goaltenders like Copley and Vanacek played their last game in March, almost a full year from when the 2021 season is set to start. These goalies — and other minor league players for that matter — are hungry, motivated and know this season might include opportunities that won’t come around again.
At age 48, Jaromir Jagr recently started his 33rd professional hockey season. Wait, what? Yes, that’s right — he even recorded a primary assist in his first game in 284 days Wednesday. The goal scorer, Matyáš Filip, was born during Jagr’s 11th NHL season in 2000.
Tell Me More: Jagr will spend the season playing for the Kladno Knights of the Czech Republic's Extraliga, a team he owns. A first ballot Hall of Famer, Jagr’s 1,921 career points are second only to Wayne Gretzky.
He’s not stopping anytime soon: Five years ago, Jagr said he wanted to keep playing until he’s 50. We imagine that’s still the plan.
“The reason I'm doing it is because I love to play hockey,” Jagr said in a 2015 interview. “I love to play the game ... I never look at the time [that has passed in the NHL], whether it happened 25 years ago or not. Every day I could play hockey in the NHL was a privilege to me. Thank God it's been such a long time I can play this game.”
Insider Updates & Analysis
Update: Florida Panthers sign Anthony Duclair to one-year deal worth just $1.7 million. His 23 goals last year ranked 48th in the league, but his new contract is the 252nd richest in the NHL, demonstrating the difficulties facing NHL free agents.
Update: Blackhawks forward will captain Canada at World Juniors, receives the news from Connor McDavid.
Update: This year’s realignment of NHL divisions will reinvigorate old rivalries, the Boston Globe reports.
Update: Here are the top ten rookies to watch during the 2020-2021 NHL season.
Rumor: Ilya Kovalchuk is close to signing a deal that will bring him back to the KHL.
🏒Programming Note: We’ll be off for the holidays, but we’ll be back with your bi-weekly news briefing on January 4, when 2020 is behind us and the NHL season is right around the corner. 🎉
A Question for the Peanut Gallery
Who’s your pick to win the Stanley Cup?