This week is the last “calm before the storm” moment, as the NHL off-season really kicks into high gear as soon as Sunday morning, when the Seattle expansion protection lists will be revealed.
At some time this week the league may announce the 2021-22 NHL schedule release. That’s just a pre-cursor to the real excitement.
Here’s a handy compilation of key dates and times to remember for the upcoming days and weeks:
July 13: Deadline for NHL teams to ask players to waive no movement clause for purposes of expansion protection
July 16: Last day to put a player on waivers prior to the expansion draft, and the deadline for players to agree to waive their no movement clauses.
July 17: NHL teams must submit expansion lists to NHL by 5 PM, trade freeze begins at 3 PM
July 18: NHL will deliver expansion lists by 10 AM, likely made public around that time. Seattle can begin “interviewing” impending UFA/RFA’s from teams at this time.
July 21: 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, 8 PM. (ESPN2)
July 22: Trade freeze is lifted at 1 PM
July 23: Round 1 of the 2021 NHL Draft, 8 PM (ESPN2)
July 24: Rounds 2-7 of the 2021 NHL Draft, 11 AM (NHL Network)
July 27: Qualifying offers due to restricted free agents
July 28: Free agency opens, 12 PM
As of now, the Penguins only have picks in the 2nd, 5th and 7th rounds of the draft. They have three picks in the last round (with extra ones from Washington and Anaheim). The second round pick will be made from the 58th overall spot. So barring any further transactions, it will be yet another largely quiet day for Pittsburgh on the entry draft.
In the near-term, this week Pittsburgh and the other NHL teams have until Saturday afternoon before the league shuts down the trading market until after Seattle makes their picks. As written before, that makes this week the last chance to deal a player like Jason Zucker or Teddy Blueger and at least get a return back (see paragraph above for depleted draft pick inventory) and not lose a useful and valuable player for nothing to expansion.
So far, the league has already seen one trade of this nature, with Viktor Arvidsson and Nashville in a pickle with many good defensemen to protect, so the Predators got two draft picks from Los Angeles in exchange for a forward in Arvidsson that they might not have had space to protect.
Catch your breath this week in the last moments of peace and quiet, the stretch from July 21-28 is going to be hectic and almost non-stop important moments all around the league and set teams up for next season and beyond.