NHL R&D Camp Predictions

About 2 weeks from now, a bunch of prospects that will be available in next summer’s draft will participate in an orientation camp in Toronto.  This camp will feature 4 sessions in which the NHL will test out some unique rule changes, and of course scouts will get a chance to look at some players in action. There’s a nice article about it on NHL.com, about the entire event.

I’d like to make a few predictions of how each rule change would impact the game. Some things are pretty obvious, because we’ve heard of them and seen them at different levels. Anyway, here goes:

  • Hybrid icing rule: There’s no explanation in the article I linked you to, but I read somewhere that in the case when a defenseman will obviously beat out a forward to touch up for icing, the refs will just blow play dead and save a few seconds.  I like this because it saves on wasted time, while doesn’t cut out those exciting mad dashes when two guys are racing neck and neck to a potentially iced puck.
  • No line change for offside: This isn’t as bad as no line change for an icing, because the teams isn’t penned into their own zone. However, this will prevent teams from taking intentional offsides after a long shift in the offensive zone.  A lost face-off could lead to a quick transition against tired bodies. Still, that situation isn’t extremely common, so I think this will have minal impact.
  • Crease reset rule: no explanation given, but anything involving “protecting the goalies” or other crease violations I am not in favor of.  We don’t need a crease at all, get rid of it, don’t experiment with it. Please.
  • Face-off by whistle rather than puck drop: This is similar to what we did when I played street hockey. We lined up, tapped each others stick 3 times, then fought to win the draw. I guess this makes it more official by using a whistle. Guys will have to get a whole new strategy because they won’t be able to get a lineman’s timing down, and a million other intricacies that center-men have picked up over the years. This will take a ton of relearning for experienced players, I’m not sure how much they’d like it. This also seems a bit gimmicky, and I doubt it will make its way into the NHL.
  • Overtime attrition: It sounds like a pretty interesting concept, decreasing the amount of players as overtime progresses.  I kind of like it, because it would make things incredibly exciting.  More open ice for star players, can you imagine the possibilities. As time dwindles down, we can expect to see less defensemen on the ice, for most teams. And how bout when a goalie makes a save, then has plenty of time and space to get up and just flip a puck into the neutral zone to create a rush the other way.  The speed would be mind blowing, and I don’t think we’d get to many shootouts with this rule.  I don’t care how drastic of a change it is, anything to get keep a shootout out of the game, I’m in favor of.
  • Bigger crease: Again, what’s the point?  We don’t use the crease for anything anymore, why would we change the size of it? The only thing with the crease is when penalties are called for closing the glove on the puck in the crease. But how rare is that, 1-2 times per season, less than that in the playoffs. Come on, this would have minimal impact. Stop this bullshit.
  • Verification goal line: Sure why not, anything to make sure a puck went in is fine. I’m guessing they’d make the line inside the net where if a puck touches it, it must be in. Problems still rise when a puck is rolling on edge, or when the puck is in the air and batted out of the net. Why can’t we put a camera under the ice in addition to this line?
  • Wider blue lines: This is pretty cool, it gives d-men a better chance of keeping pucks in the zone on attempted clears, guys can stay on-sides during a rush a bit more.  I like this because I think it will cut down on stoppages in play, increase the flow and offense a bit.
  • Line change zone: Love this.  No more guys jumping off the bench to join/stop a rush when the guy they are replacing is halfway across the ice.
  • Face-off variations: Part 1: A infringing player being forced to back up a bit, I think we can guess that the guy will lose the draw almost every time.  Look at face-offs, most of the time the players are face to face, hovering over the place where the puck will be dropped. It gives the leverage and positioning.  If a guy is forced back even a few inches, consider almost all advantages lost, and a low face-off win percentage.  As for 3 face-off dots, whatever.
  • No shorthanded icing: This obviously will increase offense, but I’m not sure I really like it.  It pretty much forces guys to skate the puck out, or chip it out lightly. That, gives them a lot less time to get fresh bodies on the ice.  I think the long-term impact of that over a season will be guys that play hard minutes will be less fresh during playoff time.  I’d like players to have some juice left once the most important part of a season rolls around.
  • Overtime attrition with long line changes: I think this will have the most impact during 4 on 4. Once you get less than that, guys have much more room to just hold the puck while their line mates change.  Not too big of a deal at that point.
  • No touch icing: We’ve seen this before, it’s a bit boring.  The goal is to eliminate injuries when guys race back for the puck. Still, those are exciting situations, and injuries aren’t that common. I say don’t add this rule.
  • Offside punishment: We sort of have this already. When a team commits intentional offside, they draw is in their zone. This just takes away the intentional part, and also the right to a line change. I’m not really in favor of this, because I think it slows things down a bit. Even worse, what about those one goal games when a team is pressing as time winds down. You wanna take away their chance for a late goal by sticking them on defense, even it’s not an intentional offside? Hell no!
  • Face-off, handpicked opponent: In case of a face-off violation, the guy who was clean gets to pick which opponent to take the draw against. Um, pretty damn obvious you’d pick the opposing goalie. Of course, they’ll probably limit it to skaters, in which case we’ll see mostly d-men picked.  Now what about when they line-up and the other guy does something wrong? Of course they’ll pick to face another d-man. And that, is how we get D on D crime. Could get pretty interesting. Although this will be rare, so I don’t see a point in it.
  • Second ref. off the ice:  These bastards already botch a lot of calls, we’re putting them farther away? I guess this will give them another perspective.  But how will they make calls, and what will they be responsible for? Too many questions for now, I’d have to see it in practice, or get a better detailed explanation.

The rest of the stuff is just minor tweaks of things I already mentioned. So while of course we can take guesses on how things would change, but it’s always best to experiment.  Maybe we get some kind of unexpected outcome that makes things that much better.

I like the game, but there’s always things that you can improve. I don’t want video game like scoring, or rules that make defense too ridiculous.  I’m in favor of things that increase flow, decrease stoppages, and things that don’t rely on judgment calls. And can we please, please review some of the bullshit penalties (hooking, slashing).

I’ll be looking forward to see what changes the NHL does make for the upcoming season.

Thanks for reading!

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