It’s time once again for another edition of NHL rumours. Teams are trying to make moves to clear salary-cap space or find players a new spot. Some are trying to bolster lineups for this year and looking forward to the future. Today’s NHL rumours focus on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, and Anaheim Ducks.
All NHL rumours are taken from the original source and are subject to change.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Russian reporters Pavel Lysenkov and Igor Eronko reported that Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas met with Russians Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Nesterov in Russia. Toronto’s GM has spent time in Europe for the last couple of days talking to players that he can sign.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) October 14, 2019
Both Russians are unrestricted free agents next year and have been with CSKA Moscow of the KHL the last few seasons. The Russian duo jumped back to Europe at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Analysis: Both players would likely want a return to North America when their respective deals expire. Each player has unfinished business in the NHL as both had lacklustre ends to their last stints. Grigorenko scored only 10 goals in his last season with the Colorado Avalanche while Nesterov collected four between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. Both want to be significant contributors to any club that desires them. A good season in North America could lead to a bigger contract in a year or two after that.
Dubas would love to get some reinforcements at a hopefully low cost. The Leafs are usually up against the salary cap and maybe both players can be good value signings. Toronto would love to add these players in the middle of its lineup to give it some depth scoring. Dubas is creative when it comes to fitting players under the salary cap, so don’t be surprised if he can get one or both to come to the Maple Leafs.
Rumour: During Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada “Headlines” segment, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet said that Buffalo has told rookies Victor Olofsson and Henri Jokiharju to find more permanent residences in the city. Head coach Ralph Kruger confirmed this on Sunday during the after-practice media scrum.
Both players have been part of the Sabres’ 5-0-1 start, which is the best since the 2008-09 season. Olofsson has set an NHL record to score his first seven career goals on the power play. Jokiharju has earned his keep on the blueline and built a solid partnership with Marco Scandella.
Headlines, plus one additional update: OTT has officially shut down its President of Hockey Operations search until at least the end of the season. Maybe it resumes, maybe it doesn't, but it is off now — https://t.co/ns1hznnhX5
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 13, 2019
Analysis: Buffalo has gotten off the blocks quickly with points in their first six games and the rookie duo is a huge part of the success. Olofsson has been an opportunist on the extra-man units and been able to put pucks in the net.
Jokiharju had to fight for a spot on the team in camp but is making the most of the opportunity. The injury to Brandon Montour opened the door for the Finn and he’s walked through it. Buffalo’s defence was crowded at the start of the training camp, but Jokiharju looks solid. He’s been making breakout passes and made defence turn to offence.
If Buffalo can sustain this hot start, both players will have played a big hand in its revival under Kruger. However, the Sabres had a 10-game winning streak last season before it all fell apart.
Rumour: Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required) held a mailbag session and said the Ducks might still be in the market for a righthanded shooting defenceman. They’ve missed out on getting Justin Faulk in the off-season.
Things have quieted down in the search, but they could be in the market if they stay in the playoff race. Anaheim is playing Cam Fowler and Michael Del Zotto on their off hands as of this time. That seems to be the plan going forward unless injuries or the right deal comes along.
Analysis: Dallas Eakins has the Ducks playing well despite Monday’s loss to the Boston Bruins. Anaheim has been more open with its increased up-tempo style and the defence has played well most of the time. The Ducks would love to get more balance on the right side.
The play of Brendan Guhle has stabilized the team and mostly quelled any talk about making a deal for a blueliner. Guhle has been a great partner to Fowler and uses his speed and passing skills to start the counterattack. Jacob Larsson has also played well in the number five defenceman role and been an excellent depth option. Anaheim struggled on defence at times last season, but the backend has been mostly solid thus far.
Fowler has also done a great job adapting to playing on the right side. He’s been the solid veteran that has guided his 22-year-old partner through the early part of the season.
OTTAWA, CANADA – MARCH 2: Craig Anderson #41 and Mark Borowiecki #74 of the Ottawa Senators keeps track of an inbound shot as Mikhail Grigorenko #25 of the Colorado Avalanche lifts his stick for a deflection during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on March 2, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)