Get ready for NHL netminders to look a bit slimmer next season as the NHL and NHLPA are expected to go ahead with the process of streamlining goaltenders’ equipment in time for the 2016-17 season.
The big news to come out of Day 2 of the GM meetings in Florida this week is that the league is ready to make changes in hopes of potentially increasing scoring. The charge will be led in part by Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the “sense is it's full steam ahead with streamlined goalie equipment,” and that both the league and the Players’ Association agree on the changes that need to be made. NHL.com’s Shawn Roarke reported manufacturers, too, were understanding of the changes that needed to be made.
The streamlining idea has been kicked around for months, and Whitmore told THN in February that it might be time for the league to look at cutting the equipment down more.
“I know it seems like a broken record or Groundhog Day, but goaltending equipment always comes up,” said Whitmore. “We’ve done trimming and nipping and tucking here and there, but I think it’s time to look into this a little deeper.”
Whitmore added that goaltenders throughout the league generally aren’t too concerned about reduction in the size of the equipment as long as the protection aspect of the equipment stays the same. Goaltenders don’t want to lose their place on the depth chart to “some guy who’s just taking up space without a lot of skill,” Whitmore said.
Roarke reported the hope was goaltenders would get to test the new equipment by the summer, meaning it could make its debut at the World Cup of Hockey.
Beyond goaltending equipment, also discussed on the second day of meetings was the potential for changes to Rule 48, which is the league’s rule against hits to the head. According to LeBurn, while the rule was discussed, GMs in the group that talked about the infraction believed it was being properly addressed.
On the topic of rule changes, however, there was talk, per LeBrun, of the potential for minor penalties to function in a similar fashion to major penalties. If the change were made, a player assessed a minor penalty would have to remain in the penalty box for the entire two minutes. LeBrun noted, though, the change might not ever happen and it was simply a topic of discussion.
It’s likely that expansion discussions will take place as soon as Wednesday, though talks will likely focus on an expansion draft and not on the addition of one or two teams to the league. The NHL still has not officially announced formal plans to expand to either of Las Vegas or Quebec City.