Prospect Ramblings: How does the COVID-19 Outbreak Impact the Prospect World?
Wow. That’s all I can really say. The rate that the COVID-19 pandemic has engulfed the sporting world has been alarming to say the least. It’s to the point that even as I begin to write this relatively benign coverage piece, I can’t help but think that the moment it’s published it will be outdated.
Today’s goal is to simply provide a recap of everything in the hockey prospect world that has been impacted by the spread, and also touch on what you can do to mitigate it’s impact on YOUR fantasy team. A couple notes I want to make clear before we begin the review though:
- I am not a doctor or medical professional. Obviously. I don’t know any more than anyone reading this about the details of the virus spread.
- This seems to be a rapidly evolving process. Surely there will be additional details released in the coming days. The target of this piece is simply to consolidate as much prospect information as possible as it relates to COVID-19.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 12, 2020
Over less than a 24-hour span. The NHL went from no games postponed, to all games postponed. What began as a simple mandate to play in front of zero fans in Columbus and San Jose has suddenly expanded into an all-out hockey lock down. For all intents and purposes, the NHL, IIHF, AHL, ECHL, CHL, USHL and more have simultaneously halted all competition. As it stands, this indefinite suspension could entirely write off both the regular season, and playoffs, although, the league has indicated that there is a mitigation plan in the works, should the pandemic deescalate.
Hearing as part of the #NHL‘s due diligence process, teams have been asked to provide arena building availability through the end of July.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 12, 2020
The news has a massive impact on the hockey prospect world, with one of the primary impacts to NHL teams, and the hockey world as a whole coming as the IIHF explicitly cancels the U-18 tournament which was scheduled for mid-to-late April.
The lack of this exposure has a significant impact for NHL teams as it’s one of the last opportunities for domestic scouts to get first-hand eyes on international talents. In the past this tournament has almost certainly made the difference in where foreign players are selected in the draft, if at all.
Just got off phone with @IIHFHockey president Dr. Rene Fasel. He said the Under-18 World Championships scheduled next month in Plymouth/Ann Arbor, MI, is officially cancelled. Self evident, really, after U.S.-Europe travel ban, but Fasel spoke with all IIHF council members today.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 12, 2020
As with the NHL, the AHL has suspended all competition moving forward.
AHL just wrapped up Board of Governors conference call. It was decided the AHL will follow suit and also pause its season.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 12, 2020
American Hockey League suspends play.
— AHL (@TheAHL) March 12, 2020
And finally, most of the major prospect leagues have opted to do the same. The outlook for the three leagues is extremely disappointing as any delays in the season will almost certainly have an impact on the 2020 Memorial Cup in Kelowna. The worst case scenario would be to have the tournament cancelled altogether, a fate that would likely leave the host Rockets feeling somewhat relieved, but also prove disappointing for many of the teams who’ve had success this year.
For many players in particular, this will be their last chance to win a league trophy or the Memorial Cup. Alexis Lafreniere and his linemates will graduate from the QMJHL next fall, and Rimouski will be left with little or nothing to show for putting their eggs in one basket. The Moncton Wildcats are in a similar situation where Jakob Pelletier, Benoit Olivier Groulx, Jeremy McKenna, Jared McIsaac, and Axel Andersson will each have an opportunity to move on. The Wildcats have been close as the host team in 2006, but have never won a Memorial Cup. This year will, or would have been their best chance for another cycle.
The Canadian Hockey League has suspended/paused its season.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 12, 2020
The USHL has suspended the remainder of their regular season and playoffs. The league has accounted for a growing number of NHL prospects over the last number of years and it’s disappointing to see the year seemingly come to an end like this for them. The US NTDP had a major showing at the draft last summer and is projected to have another significant group selected this June with players like Jake Sanderson and Ty Smilanic projected to be first or second round selections.
USHL to Suspend Season Due to COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/CiV6mT8WUk
— USHL (@USHL) March 12, 2020
Although not much was remaining of the collegiate season, the NCAA has cancelled all remaining Winter and Spring championship tournaments including the Frozen Four, leaving no window open for the organization to revisit it.
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 12, 2020
Finally, I’m still holding out hope that this doesn’t have an impact on the NHL draft, currently scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal. Despite as big as this thing seems to be, I keep hearing we’re still in the beginning.
Starting to think the #NHLDraft might be in August the way things are trending hour to hour.
— Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP) March 12, 2020
In closing, to everyone reading, do your best to follow the guidelines of your local health authorities. While most who are reading this are not likely in an age bracket that needs to be overly concerned with the risk of fatality (again, not a doctor), we all have family who are. It’s important for all of us to do what we can to prevent the further spread.
Take care, @olaf1393
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