There’s still what seems like an eternity before the new season starts. Last Word On Hockey is committed to keeping you up to date with the hottest NHL Rumours. Settle in and get your NHL rumours fix because today we’re talking the Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
All NHL Rumours are taken from their original source and subject to change.
Rumour: During a fundraiser, Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien sounded very ambiguous on the team’s makeup and his expectations for next season. Elliotte Friedman took this ambiguity to mean the team wasn’t done just yet.
Claude Julien was asked today about his expectations for this season. “I think we have until Sept. 9 for our official golf tournament and by then we’ll have more clarity on what to expect because there’s still some things we’re discussing," he said. Draw you own conclusions…
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) August 29, 2019
Analysis: Julien has kept the media guessing about what the team’s roster could look like come October. The front office boldly signed Carolina Hurricanes Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet last month, but the Canes quickly matched it, and Aho stayed put.
Julien’s vagueness leads some fans to believe the front office is cooking up something good. With just over $4 million in available cap space, they could potentially add a veteran player or two lower-cost options. They’ve been flying under the radar for the majority of the offseason, besides signing Ben Chiarot.
There’s some speculation linking the Canadiens to Patrik Laine. Laine would, obviously, be a good fit for the team. His penchant for scoring would be invaluable to the Habs. He has, however, been dubbed a sort-of one-trick-pony.
The most prominent issue in Montreal is a lack of left-handed defencemen. While Chiarot is expected to solve many issues, adding one more name could solidify the team’s core. This has some wondering if the Canadiens could be after unrestricted free agent Jake Gardiner. Gardiner is a very strong defenceman overall. He’s averaged a total of 42 points over the course of the last three seasons. While many worry about recent injuries, there’s no denying Gardiner’s ability. For a Canadiens defence that’s already fairly strong, Gardiner could be a terrific addition.
Los Angeles Kings
LAK GM Rob Blake in no hurry to sign RW Tyler Toffoli to contract extension with 73 in his walk year, says it’s something that will work itself out later in the calendar year.
IMO Toffoli has to have a strong start to stay in LA but even with one it’s no guarantee he remains.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) August 31, 2019
Analysis: This isn’t exactly a surprise considering Toffoli’s performance last season. He registered just 34 points over 82 games, resulting in his second 34 point season in the previous three years.
Critics believe Toffoli is primed for a comeback year despite his down season last year. The Kings have been in quite a rut lately, and Toffoli might have been a casualty of the teams’ bad luck. He put up 226 shots over 82 games and still only recorded 13 goals last year.
While Blake has been heard saying that the contract would work itself out later in the year, the general consensus is that Toffoli won’t be back. The best-case scenario would be for Toffoli to have a break out start to the season and the Kings trade him for a better return. The Kings lineup is likely still a ways away from a post-season entry. Dealing away a strong Toffoli for a mix of draft picks and prospects could go a long way in boosting their rebuild. If they do end up offering him a contract next season, though, it would be in the teams best interest not to offer anything beyond three years.
If the Flames want to create more cap space than $7.7M to sign Tkachuk & Mangiapane, trade Frolik (1yr@$4.3M) to Columbus for overpaid Riley Nash (2yr@$2.75M). Frolik is the better player but right shot Nash can stopgap on 4th line. Clb retains $500G, saving Cgy $2M. Yay or nay?
— Brian Costello (@bcostellothn) August 29, 2019
Analysis: The Flames have almost $8 million left in cap space, and Tkachuk and Mangiapane are still up in the air. Clearly, the club needs to move something around to allow the pair to be resigned.
The Flames have smaller contracts they could look to move. Austin Czarnik or Mark Jankowski are two different paths the club could potentially take. They’re two young, desirable players on cheaper contracts — ideal targets for teams looking to bring in fresh moldable talent.
The real question is: are the Flames willing to move that same talent to accommodate Tkachuk and Mangiapane. The team covets their fresh faces, but Tkachuk is a cornerstone of the organization. Additionally, the value that Mangiapane adds to the fourth line shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. Mangiapane netted 13 points in 44 NHL games last season, adding an addition 17 points in 15 AHL games. His possession numbers are off-the-charts, recording a 54.6 percent CF% despite playing fourth-line minutes. While Tkachuk’s value is obvious, the absolute need to re-sign 22-year-old Mangiapane has been fairly overshadowed.
If Oilers talking to Tampa re Puljujarvi for young player, most likely they would want C Anthony Cirelli or D man they wanted to draft in Jesse's draft year Sergachev. Most likely prospect winger: Taylor Raddysh, who had 46 pts in first AHL season. Former jr teammate of McDavid
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) August 29, 2019
Analysis: A common name tossed around the NHL Rumours mill is Puljujarvi. After a lengthy back and forth with the Oilers, Puljujarvi recently signed with Oulun Karpat, apart of Finland’s top league, while also partaking in the Champions Hockey League. In his first game in the Champions League, which started August 29, Puljujarvi recorded one goal and one assist. This strong start to Europe’s most exciting Fall tournament has raised a lot of eyebrows among the Oilers fanbase, questioning whether Puljujarvi’s poor NHL play is a result of the drama in Edmonton.
In reality, Puljujarvi isn’t quite as valuable as the team may think. Sources say the Oilers would be looking for Anthony Cirelli or Mikhail Sergachev from Tampa, two very hefty returns. Maybe Edmonton isn’t the ideal place for Puljujarvi but the club shouldn’t have such unrealistic expectations about the price he’d fetch. With that said, a strong showing in the Champions Hockey League could go a long way in trade talks. The tournament has a six-game Group Stage before the Round of 16 starts in early November, as it plays in to many European leagues’ regular-season schedules. The finale of the tourney is on February 4.