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What we know about the 2020-21 season

Rounding up some dates and details.

Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins - Game One Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

With the NHL and NHLPA just agreeing to a plan for the 2020-21 season, it’s all starting to come together out here. We’re still looking at that January 13 start date, and as that draws nearer, more and more details are coming out about logistics for this season and, well, it’s a lot. But we’re going to do our best to collect all of the details you might need right here, in one place, and we can all parse through it together. Or something like that.

Some key dates

  • December 28: Waivers period begins
  • January 3: Training camp opens (December 31 for the seven teams who missed the playoffs)
  • January 13: Regular season starts
  • February 1: Teams can begin asking players to waive their NMC for expansion draft purposes
  • April 12: Trade deadline
  • May 8: End of the regular season
  • May 11: Playoffs begin
  • July 15: Last possible day of playoffs. Buyout window opens 24 hours later.
  • July 21: Expansion draft
  • July 23-24: NHL entry draft
  • July 28: Free agency opens

We should tack a massive disclaimer on here that the world is still really weird right now, and these dates are subject to change, but assuming everything goes as planned, as an additional note, teams will have until 5:00 PM on January 12 to submit their final, cap compliant roster. Which shouldn’t figure to be a huge dramatic undertaking for a team like the Flyers who aren’t in cap trouble. But as we look around the league at some other teams who are… well it’s something to be looking at.

The divisions

The teams will play all 56 regular season games against those in their division, and then the top four in each division will make the playoffs. Those four teams will play each other to ultimately get to one division champ, and then they’ll play each other to close out the playoffs. Which is all just to say that a given team won’t see one outside of their division until the playoff quarterfinals.

Team makeup

There’s at least a part of this makeup that will look close to normal, in that each team will still have to put together a 23-man roster that is compliant with the $81.5 million cap ceiling. The new part is that teams will also be allowed a 4-6 player taxi squad, and those players will not count against the cap. There’s a lot going on with them, but CapFriendly put together a nice little list of conditions for the taxi squad.

Players will have the option to opt out of this season, if they or an immediate family member are considered high risk. And it looks like those determined by the medical staffs to be high risk and forced to sit out will still be paid for the season (per Frank Seravalli).

Odds and ends

We have a couple more notes to add before we close things out. First, we have some bits that aren’t changing!

But a couple of small changes that we can expect is that the slide for players on entry level contracts will be bumped down from ten games to seven, and the number of games needed to be accrued towards unrestricted free agency moves down to 27.

And finally, if you’re looking to go down a rabbit hole, here’s a fun thread on how daily cap hits will be affected, and what that means for paper transactions and teams banking cap space.

We should also offer a hat tip to CapFriendly before we go — there’s been a lot happening these last couple of days and they’ve proved once again a pretty invaluable resource. Thanks gang.

And that’s all we’ve got! For now at least. Two new pieces of news broke while I was typing this article to begin with, so it’s pretty safe to assume that more changes and developments are coming at some point or another. But whenever that happens, we’ll be sure to keep you all updated.