November 26, 2020
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Personnel moves for all 31 NHL teams are now in the second month. Photo by Seth Hoffman for Unsplash.


By Taylor Ogata, Staff Reporter

There has been a whirlwind of activity in the National Hockey League this offseason: the league is still deciding on when to start the 2020-21 regular season and how many games each team will play, teams signing free agents and respective draft picks to contracts and more. Everything is happening during the time when the league would normally be in the second month of the regular season, but due to COVID-19, no games are happening.

A big change happened on the media side of the league as Mike “Doc” Emrick announced his retirement from broadcasting after 47 years. The 74-year-old legendary voice of the “NHL on NBC” called over 3,700 games, including 22 Stanley Cup Finals games. He will continue to write and narrate video essays for the NHL on NBC occasionally.

“Partway through the playoffs, which NBC graciously allowed me to do from home, I became very aware not only of how fortunate I was to continue to be safe here at home, but aside from my (prostate) cancer scare in 1991, to have been healthy these past 50 years since reporting on the NHL for the first time,” Emrick said. “Reflecting back on that time, I’m still OK.”

The two Southern California clubs, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, have both made more personnel moves.

The Kings signed Quinton Byfield, their second overall pick in the recent draft, to a three-year entry level contract, which is a two-way contract worth $925,000 at the NHL level, on Oct. 16. Byfield was the highest chosen black player in any draft so far.

When he was drafted a week before, he got a warm welcome from numerous LA icons on social media, like Magic Johnson and Snoop Dogg.

“I couldn’t even believe it,” Byfield said. “I wouldn’t even think they’d know who I am, let alone go on social media and welcome to LA that is something special.”

In free agency, the Kings re-signed forward Bokondji Imama and defenseman Austin Strand to one-year, two way contracts. They carry a value of $735,000 at the NHL level.

Imama, a 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound winger, had 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 50 games with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League last season. He also led the team with 134 penalty minutes, which was good for second in the AHL.

Strand, who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, had 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 41 games with the Reign last season. He tied for second on the team in goals by defensemen.

Down the road in Anaheim, the Ducks signed undrafted free agent Maxim Golod to a three-year entry level contract on Oct. 11. The 20-year-old left winger led Erie of the Ontario Hockey League with 78 points (25 goals, 53 assists) in 63 games last season. His 53 assists were also tops on the team in that category.

The day before, Anaheim signed four players each to one-year contracts. Center Chase De Leo got a one-year, two way contract extension, defenseman Andy Welinski was signed to a one way deal and forwards Andrew Poturalski and Vinni Lettieri each got two way contracts.

The new season is still targeted to begin on Jan. 1, but it is still subject to change.

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