The ability to globally set blank grades to zero at prior to submitting final grades would be great. In classes with a large number of gradebook items, this can be a lot of work in the current gradebook.
We are adding it back in soon (as you discovered in known issues), but before we add it in, we're going to give you the ability to set an automatic grade to be award for all missing items. So you will actually not have to do anything to get those grades awarded to all the folks who haven't submitted. We'll automatically do it for you, based on the policy you set.
I think the Late Policy is a great idea, but I will confess it is such a different approach from our old LMS (which is still fresh in people's memory) that I anticipate push-back. Even exciting changes are hard....
Just to update this thread a bit, Default Grade is in the New Gradebook. Christi's clarifying comment about setting an automatic grade will be added as part of Phase 2 (Phase 1 is currently in development).
The feature to award a default grade for late assignment sounds great. Do you know if it's available or when it will be available?