While general managers and other NHL executives are usually seen as the ones with the most insight on the free agent and trade markets and player values, on the other side of the table agents also have their fingers on the pulse of the game. The Athletic’s Craig Custance recently asked 21 of the top NHL player agents to answer some questions on recent results, the current off-season, and what to expect in the future. Among the most noteworthy responses were their thoughts on how teams have performed in the fall markets. A major rivalry may be renewed, as the highest vote-getter for best off-season was the Montreal Canadiens, while the Boston Bruins received the most votes for incomplete off-season. While agents liked how Montreal has added up front, they have concerns about Boston’s defense in the wake of Torey Krug’s departure. As for projecting upcoming moves, some may be surprised to hear that the top vote-getter for “highest profile player you expect to change teams in the next year” was Buffalo Sabres superstar Jack Eichel (tied with Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine), as many felt that Eichel and new addition Taylor Hall will not be enough to right the ship in Buffalo and one or both will be gone next summer. As for the coming season, two-thirds of those polled believed the 2020-21 season will exceed Custance’s over/under of 55.5 games in length. The vast majority also feel that NBC will retain exclusive television rights in the league’s new contract, but many feel ESPN will be a factor and could at the very least force a split. For more on the opinions of the NHL’s top agents, check out the rest of The Athletic’s survey results.
- One high-profile agent could soon be changing his allegiance from the player side to the team side. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that Brett Peterson of Acme World Sports is in talks to join former colleague Bill Zito with the Florida Panthers. Zito, recently named GM himself, already added one fellow former player agent in Paul Krepelka as an assistant GM but could fill the other AGM vacancy with Peterson. The Boston College grad has over a decade in the business, having joined Acme back in 2009.
- The agent for top 2021 prospect Brandt Clarke is reportedly trying to get creative. Clarke, a real candidate to go first overall in next year’s NHL Draft, is currently without a place to play as he waits for the OHL to kick off in February. Wanting as much exposure this year as possible, Swedish source Expressen writes that Clarke is considering a move to Vasby IK of the minor league Allsvenskan for the time being until he can return to the Barrie Colts. The elite two-way right-handed defenseman would step into an immediate top role with Vasby, even as he makes his pro debut, as the club is dead last in the Allsvenskan and desperate for help. In what could prove to be a savvy move by his agent, if Clarke can help turn the struggling Vasby club around, it could provide the boost to his draft stock that lands him at No. 1.