Fans have waited for months to find out if the NHL will ever resume play this season. Well, now there is an answer. Hockey is coming back on Aug. 1. The NHL and NHLPA announced the approval of the CBA extension and the return to play plan for phases three and four on July 10. Here’s the breakdown now that everything is approved and finalized.
Dates to know
July 13: Phase 3 begins
- Start of formal training camps for all 24 teams
July 26: Teams travel to Edmonton or Toronto depending on which conference they’re in
July 28-30: Exhibition games
August 1: The 24-team tournament officially begins
August 10: Phase 2 of 2020 NHL Draft
- No. 1 pick will be determined by one of the eliminated teams from the qualifying round
August 11: First round of Stanley Cup Playoffs begin
August 25: Second round of Stanley Cup playoffs begin
September 8: Conference Finals begin
September 22: Stanley Cup Finals begins
October 4: Stanley Cup Finals ends
October 9-10: 2020 NHL Draft
- All seven rounds of the draft will be online just like the WNBA and NFL
October 11: Free agency begins
- Could be an earlier date; depends on when the Stanley Cup Finals concludes
November 17: Training camps begin for 2020-21 season
December 1: Start of 2020-21 season
It’s important to note that the dates from August 25 and on are fluid so think of those dates as tentative. However, there is a certain day that’s set in stone as of today: draft day. The draft must be held seven days after the Stanley Cup Finals end and before free agency.
Players that want to opt-out of the season restart must inform their teams, in writing, within the next three days. Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic is the first NHL player to opt-out for family considerations.
The season restarting is great news and all but what about this whole CBA business? Why was this an important topic to approve? Here are the details of the new CBA and how and why it affects future seasons.
Extended CBA details
One of the main details in the extended CBA is a flat salary cap. Both the owners and player’s association agreed to keep the salary cap flat at $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season. The salary cap would’ve been as high as $88.2 million if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic pausing the season. It will remain $81.5 million until revenue reaches the projected revenue for this season of $4.8 billion. The salary cap could remain flat for the next two seasons through the new U.S. broadcast rights contract and revenue made from the newest expansion team in Seattle could help rebound loss revenue sooner than later.
New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin said “we as players cannot report to camp to resume play without already having an agreement in place”. He was, of course, referring to the escrow situation players have been dealing with for years. Players and owners found a way to come up with an escrow fix amidst owners losing massive revenue from the season pause. This is the escrow fix details the players signed off on:
- 20% capped escrow withholding for 2020-21
- Between 14% and 18% for 2021-22, depending on hockey-related revenue
- 10% for 2022-23
- 6% from 2023-26
- Agreed to changes that will give owners additional cash flow next season
- Players will defer 10% of their salaries next season
- Return of money will come back to players by way of installments from 2022-25
- Owners will have access to this season’s escrow in the next 15 days
Raise in the minimum wage
The minimum wage in the NHL will remain at $700,000 next season. That figure will rise to $750,000 for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. The minimum wage will then remain at $775,000 for the next three seasons starting in the 2023-24 season.
Player trades are less restrictive
The extended CBA says that any no-trade and no-movement clauses will remain with a player who is traded. Teams are also not allowed to include conditional draft picks in trades that are tied to a player re-signing with a new team.
There will be labor peace for six, maybe seven, seasons
There have been three work stoppages under Commissioner Gary Bettman’s watch. This CBA talk was definitely an important topic with both the league and NHLPA collaborating together to get a deal done.
NHL players are going back to the Olympics
The NHL didn’t allow its players to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This was the first time NHL players didn’t participate in the Winter Olympics since 1994. The league agreed to let players play in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and 2026 Games in Milan as long as they can strike an agreement with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation.
Free agency and the new (tentative) dates were also apart of the extended CBA.