Welcome back to NHL Rumours, where each day we take a look at everything that is happening around the league. We take a look at teams looking for new deals, players, and more. Today, we look at NHL Rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa Senators.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went on SN590 the Fan and talked about Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. He mentioned that people in the Leafs organization very well could feel it’s too early to put him on the hot seat.
Elliotte Friedman on SN590: Some in Leafs org are saying it’s early and they’re missing Tavares, Dermott, Hyman. I think that Babcock’s seat is not as hot as a lot of people want it to be. There are times where not everyone is happy but no urgency to fire coach now.
— James (@Account4hockey) October 23, 2019
Analysis: Part of the reason people with the Leafs feel this way is because the team has had some big injuries. John Tavares is the biggest one but Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott are very notable pieces too. Babcock has not had a full and healthy roster to work with yet this year. However, there are still some concerns among fans on why he may not be the right fit.
For starters, Babcock is set in his ways quite often. One of these cases is how the goaltending rotation works. He has very little faith in his backup and only uses his backup on back-to-back games. However, it doesn’t seem to matter who the opponent is. Even if game one is against an easy out of conference opponent, Frederik Andersen gets the start. Whereas Michael Hutchinson gets the start in game two despite it being against divisional rivals like the Boston Bruins. Argue whether this is good or bad, many Leaf fans are sick of it.
Babcock has failed to move past the first round in years and many people are starting to wonder if he’s the wrong guy for the job. Babcock can be stubborn, however, he has shown he is willing to change. The other night he played Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner together. As well, earlier this season he broke the “tie goes to the veteran” rule when he scratched Jason Spezza for Nick Shore. All eyes will be on Toronto and how they get going. Any struggles and Babcock may be under more pressure then he is now.
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman mentioned in 31 Thoughts that the Edmonton Oilers have dipped their toes in the Darnell Nurse contract extension talk. However, no details or real movement has been made just yet.
Analysis: The Oilers have gotten off to a very hot start this season and it has been thanks to their big players. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been dominant like usual. However, Nurse and Oscar Klefbom have been the massive pieces on the blueline. It is obvious Nurse loves it in Edmonton. Being a part of the solution heading forward seems like something he is all in on and Edmonton should love that.
Figuring out a neutral ground for a contract is interesting. Nurse is a solid defenceman but it isn’t obvious if he is a true top-pair guy yet. Edmonton has used him in that capacity somewhat because they haven’t had another option. However, with the salary cap in mind, Edmonton needs to be careful of what they pay him. Nurse is still in his prime so a longer-term deal could work out well for Edmonton. Darnell Nurse is two seasons away from UFA status and if Edmonton wants to buy up those years it will cost them. Taking their time and seeing what they have this season could be critical for Ken Holland and company.
Analysis: There have been lots of rumours about possible defencemen trades out of Buffalo this season. With a few guys expiring and a pretty full blueline, it made sense. However, so does having an influx of talent if you feel like you have a really solid team. The Sabres are currently top of the Atlantic division but are they for real? They did a great job of adding depth in the offseason.Colin Miller, Marcus Johansson, Jimmy Vesey among others. Those are just some players they added to give the Sabres some legit depth behind their top guys.
However, the Sabres may be hesitant after what happened last season. Buffalo went on a 10-game winning streak and came crashing down to Earth missing the playoffs by a wide margin. This team is much better and deeper than last year though. The question will be, if they do make playoffs, how far can they go?
If they see themselves as a first-round exit then it may still be better to trade off some pieces. If there isn’t a long-term future for them you should try and get some assets to help you in the long run. Once again, patience looks like it will be the key here. Much like Edmonton, taking a few weeks to figure out the outlook of the team seems like the best idea.
Rumour: Going back to 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman started the article by stating the Senators were indeed looking to add another forward. TSN’s Chris Stevenson also reports that an issue Ottawa is having is that they are at 49 contracts.
#sens are looking for a depth deal, but teams know they’ve got 49 contracts and are holding them up. The contract situation is an issue when it comes to making deals. The #sens aren’t in a position to help another team out without sending a contract back.
— Chris Stevenson (@CJ_Stevenson) October 24, 2019
Analysis: This seems like an incredibly short-sighted move by the Senators regardless. Colin White and Artem Anisimov are both out for a few weeks. However, the Senators shouldn’t be spending assets to acquire more players while rebuilding. The Vladislav Namestnikov trade was fine, but it shouldn’t happen again.
If Ottawa wanted to trade for a contract to receive assets in return they run into more problems. It’s the reason wasting a contract on a career AHLer like Scott Sabourin makes no sense. Ottawa has tons of capable players in the AHL to play. They called up Logan Brown the other night and he played very well. If he forces Ottawa’s hand to keep him with the big club suddenly they are screwed with too many players.
Short-term injuries on a team that is very clearly tanking should on have this big of an impact. The Senators need to think this through so they don’t continue to create a log-jam for themselves moving forward.
That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in again tomorrow for more!