The NHL and NHLPA negotiated deep into the night on June 30 and into July 1 as the two sides tried to hammer out the final details of both the NHL return and a CBA extension. Under normal circumstances, a CBA extension is an ambitious undertaking, but with the unprecedented NHL Return to Play hanging in the balance, the two sides made extraordinary progress. A few players, including the Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin, are happy they did.
Malkin is one of two Penguins veterans who has signing bonuses built into his contract. Those bonuses are payable on July 1 for the upcoming season. According to Sportsnet, on Tuesday evening, the players and the NHL agreed the July 1 bonuses would be paid, despite uncertainty when the next NHL season will occur.
The NHL owners monetary acquiescence cleared the way for further negotiations toward a new CBA and the NHL return.
The other Pittsburgh Penguins player who will get a lovely email from his bank is Brandon Tanev. Malkin will receive his $5 million signing bonus. Tanev will receive $1 million as part of the six-year, $21 million deal he signed last July 1.
Unspoken, but one aspect of the signing-bonus agreement seems to be clear. The owners responded to the player concerns about safety and have rewarded them with not only signing bonuses but according to Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman, the NHL has agreed to allow participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics, as well.
That is a big deal.
Olympic participation was an important issue for many players, but it seemed especially important to Russian players such as Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin threatened to leave his NHL team to play in the 2018 games. Evgeni Malkin did not take a similar stand, but both were merely spectators as Russia won Olympic gold for the first time since 1992.
In 1992, the Russian team was called the Unified Team because those games occurred during the final dissolution of the oppressive communist reign and previously occupied countries were declaring independence. In 2018, the Russian team was prohibited from playing under the Russian flag because of a wide-spread Russian doping scandal.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman long downplayed possible NHL player inclusion in the 2022 international event, which will be held in Bejing, China. The NHL owners took a stand against including NHL players in the games because it will halt the NHL season for several weeks, and there were additional concerns the time zone difference would minimize exposure of the Olympic hockey games.
Signing bonuses and Olympic participation; the players scored two major victories on Tuesday evening.
Many Penguins on entry-level deals also received a $92,500 bonus, too, including John Marino. 2019 draft picks Sam Poulin and Nathan Legare, and prospects Filip Hallander and Kasper Bjorkqvist also received their $92,500 bonus. All figures, according to CapFriendly.com.
The full list of Penguins who received their entry-level contract bonuses includes Emil Larmi, Niclas Almari, Jan Drozg, and Justin Almeida. Perhaps the signing bonus will soothe Larmi’s recent airport nightmares.
Recent free agent signings who didn’t get their chance to play for the Penguins at any level this season were also paid. College free agents Drew O’Connor and Cameron Lee, and Czech free agent Radim Zohorna will receive their $92,500 bonuses, too. Will Reilly, who signed his two-year ELC on April 20, will receive $80,000.
PHN completed a full scouting review with video of O’Connor. View it here.
The NHL and NHLPA could announce the final agreement of the NHL Return to Play as early as July 1, which is also Canada Day. According to published and broadcast reports from the Canadian rights holder Sportsnet, the announcement will include the two hub cities and a three-year CBA extension.
A nifty signing bonus and sanctioned Olympic participation. Evgeni Malkin is probably smiling today.