The season is just over two weeks old, and there are still NHL rumours floating around. Last Word On Hockey will continue to keep you up to date on the latest NHL rumours from around the league. Today’s focus will be on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, and Minnesota Wild.
Toronto Maple Leafs/Montreal Canadiens
Rumour: Both of these clubs have some concentrated interest in acquiring KHL centre Konstantin Okulov. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have been scouting the 24-year-old and are looking to bring him over to the NHL next season, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
Analysis: The talented Russian centre has sparked plenty of interest with some NHL teams. Most lack the drawing power to recruit him to the NHL. That’s where two premier Canadian teams feel they have the advantage to convince him to play in North America.
The 24-year-old has five goals and 13 points in 17 games this season. Last year he scored a career-high 20 goals and 31 points in 48 games. He also helped the Moscow club capture the KHL Gagarin Cup with seven goals and 14 points in 19 playoff appearances. It could be a bidding war between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens to see who can win the jackpot of Okulov’s future in the NHL.
Toronto has so much money tied up in a few players and if they can find talent from other sources that will serve them well. The Leafs just need to consider how well Ilya Mikheyev has worked for the team by giving them another legitimate NHL winger for an entry-level salary. He’s tallied seven points in his first nine games—all of them at even-strength.
Montreal is not bound to the same cap problems that Toronto has experienced. Daily, they are building a deep forward group to rival their Atlantic Division opponents. They don’t intend to pass up an opportunity to improve upon it. Montreal has 12 picks in this year’s draft, a good young core and cap space to make moves. That makes them the envy of any NHL club looking to get into the free-agent market.
Okulov is scheduled to become a free agent after this season but would be held to the entry-level system on any contract. While Toronto and Montreal are the front-runners, this is surely not the last time we hear his name in NHL rumours this year.
Analysis: Haggerty suggests kicking the tires on New York Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang or Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi. Both players have requested trades. Ho-Sang already cleared waivers earlier this month so it wouldn’t cost much to acquire him. He has speed and good puck-moving skills but has been a bit of a problem for the Islanders. His maturity may still be in question, but his hockey skills aren’t. Other clubs may grab him so time may be of the essence.
Puljujarvi struggled to say the least in Edmonton. His 37 points in 139 NHL games for a fourth overall pick in 2016 just isn’t going to do it. Haggerty feels it’s difficult to judge those numbers based on the “dumpster fire” the Oilers were involved in before cleaning house earlier this year. They reportedly seek a top-nine player and a draft pick, which Haggerty believes the Bruins have in abundance.
The Bruins off to a 5-1-2 start. GM Don Sweeney probably isn’t feeling much pressure to work a trade right now. That doesn’t mean he’s forgetting about his club’s need for secondary scoring. He will be monitoring the trade market and it’s unlikely he sees anything happening drastically soon.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman reports Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has received calls from rival GMs wondering if he’s looking to shake things up. Guerin said he’s not making an emotional move or a deal simply for the sake of doing so.
Video- Saturday Headlines: via Sportsnet, Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman break down the latest news from around the NHL, with the Maple Leafs facing roster decisions as injured players return and the Minnesota Wild struggle. https://t.co/bkfGaVlBma
— Kukla’s Korner (@kuklaskorner) October 20, 2019
Analysis: Whenever a team starts a new NHL season with a horrible 1-6 record and is in the basement of the standings, the piranha start to smell blood. They want to see if you are looking to dump some players. Guerin has told other teams he is not making an emotional move at this time. They are without good players like Mats Zuccarello, Victor Rask, and now Joel Eriksson Ek who are out with injuries.
If every GM were to start a fire-sale when they experience multiple injuries, the Arizona Coyotes would have packed their bags and moved to Houston after last season’s debacle of injuries. Guerin plans to stay the course and see how things roll out. That doesn’t mean that he’s giving up the ship and abandoning his duties. For now, all things shall pass and he is hoping this will too.