The NHL season is now underway and there have been plenty of surprises thus far. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the early-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we’ll cover rumours surrounding the Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres, and Minnesota Wild.
Rumour: During their Insider Trading discussion on Thursday, the TSN crew mentioned a host of NHL rumours. This included the news that the Hurricanes were in the market to add to their top-nine.
Analysis: The Hurricanes made multiple additions to their defence this summer. Newcomers Jake Gardiner and Joel Edmundson have yet to make a noticeable impact on the scoresheet but they add a significant amount of depth to an already strong defencive core. Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin have also had strong starts, leaving next-to-nothing to worry about among the Carolina Hurricanes defence.
The Hurricanes goaltending has also started strong, with Petr Mrazek setting a .919 save percentage through four starts, and James Reimer recording a .914 through four starts of his own. While the season is still very young, the goaltending has been fairly consistent as well.
This leaves the offence as the only position that’s yet to be flushed out. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned that Joshua Ho-Sang could be Carolina’s target. Ho-Sang has been a prominent member of NHL rumours lately, with many saying his time with the New York Islanders is coming to an end.
A change of scenery could be what it takes to bring out the elite play that many thought Ho-Sang has always been capable of. Of all the teams in the league, there doesn’t seem to be a much better place for the speedy Ho-Sang to shine than with the Hurricanes. LeBrun also mentioned that the Hurricanes have been looking at Jesse Puljujarvi, among other players. A new addition to the team’s top-nine could be the final piece needed to turn the Hurricanes into a true Stanley Cup contender.
Rumour: LeBrun also mentioned, during Insider Trading, that the trade rumours surrounding Rasmus Ristolainen could be coming to an end.
Analysis: LeBrun spoke about the bond that’s formed between Ristolainen and Sabres’ new head coach Ralph Krueger. He noted that Ristolainen sounds very happy to be playing under the new coach, something that can’t be said about Ristolainen’s bond with Phil Housley last season.
For the fifth year in a row, Ristolainen has the highest time-on-ice average among the team’s skaters. In second place is Ristolainen’s defencive-partner, Jake McCabe. This is despite the fact that both players have recorded a mere two points through eight games so far. Nevertheless, the duo has significantly outplayed the much brighter pairing of Colin Miller and Rasmus Dahlin.
With the promise that Dahlin has shown, trade rumours have surrounded the disgruntled Ristolainen for months now. Many don’t think that the two can coexist, especially since the two have yet to see consistent ice time on the same line. With the newfound hope brought in by Krueger, and the team’s 6-1-1 hot start, LeBrun thinks trade rumours can finally be put to rest. Whether they’ll stay quiet can’t be guaranteed. The Sabres are in desperate need of multiple assets and Ristolainen would reel in a hefty return if dealt to the right team.
Rumour: Plenty of NHL rumours are swirling around the Minnesota Wild right now. The team is in a bad place and LeBrun thinks it’s time the team makes their goal a top-three pick in next year’s NHL Draft. TVA Sports also reported that the team might be looking to deal a “youngster”.
No one with the Wild wants to say it, but what that team needs most is finally having a top-3 draft pick in June. Tank-a-Palooza is what I’d be stressing. But I know that’s not ideal for teams to embrace. https://t.co/ruFOHsvOBL
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 18, 2019
Analysis: The Wild have started the season with a record of 1-6-0. This ranks them as dead-last. Three players are tied for the team-lead in scoring with four points in seven games. With the outburst of early scoring the league has seen to start this season, four points is a fairly lacklustre peak. Needless to say, the team has severely struggled.
While it may be a bit too early to throw the towel in on the season, this year’s Wild team is clearly not going to turn around their recent poor fortune. Despite a few additions this summer, the team’s rebuild is far from over. As LeBrun mentions, a top-three pick could be what the doctor ordered for Minnesota, to help them advance their seemingly stalled rebuild. The team hasn’t had a top-three draft pick since the 2000 NHL Draft, their first draft in franchise history. They used this pick to reel in Marian Gaborik, an obvious NHL star. Gaborik would go on to spend eight seasons with the Wild, scoring 437 points in 502 games.
The draft class for this upcoming NHL Draft is very strong. The top-three could feature names like Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti, Alexander Holtz, and Lucas Raymond. Any of the five players will surely revolutionize the NHL team they join. With the former two poised to make their NHL debuts as soon as next season. For a team like Minnesota, that needs to set their sites on the future, having one of these soon-to-be stars would go a very long way. Trading a young talent, like Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala, or Ryan Donato as mentioned in TVP’s piece, could also help secure high-end picks for a fairly well-rounded 2020 NHL Draft.
That’s all for NHL Rumours. Come back again every day for more.