The NHL season is 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 Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New Jersey Devils.
Rumour: Brendan Perlini is apparently on his way out of Chicago, with many NHL rumours saying the player is looking for a potential trade.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) October 25, 2019
Analysis: Perlini has disappointed Chicago fans so far. He joined the team alongside the much more exciting Dylan Strome, in a trade that sent Nick Schmaltz to the Arizona Coyotes almost a year ago. After joining Chicago, Perlini played 47 games with the team. While he wasn’t jaw-dropping in many respects, he tallied a modest 12 goals and three assists with the team. He managed these numbers despite playing an average of only 10:36 in ice time through the 46 games.
This year, things are looking much bleaker for Perlini. On a roster that has had many unsuspecting, yet surprising, names on it, Perlini has been the odd-man-out. He has only played in one of the team’s eight games so far. In that game, he saw a very bleak 7:49 in ice time, the lowest of any Blackhawks player by almost three minutes. This was despite the fact that the game went into overtime, giving Perlini plenty of opportunities to receive admirable ice time.
Perlini’s exclusion from the lineup and very limited usage in the one game he’s played is very surprising. Drake Caggiula, the player that’s currently overshadowing Perlini on the team’s fourth-line, has managed a mere two points in eight games, both goals. This is a stat line that Perlini could surely match if he was given the opportunity, as he flaunted a strong scoring ability last season. It’s clear why he is now looking for a trade away from Chicago. A brighter future surely awaits the 23-year-old forward once he finds adequate ice time.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: The Maple Leafs are emphatically cap-strapped. When Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman come off injured reserve, the team will need to find a way to get under the salary cap. Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle explore this in their latest piece for The Athletic. There, they posit that one of four players could be leaving the team.
Analysis: Siegel and Mirtle provide four names that could help relieve some cap-strain for Toronto. These names include Jason Spezza, Martin Marincin, Nick Shore, and Dmytro Timashov. Siegel and Mirtle note that these players are the most expendable, thanks to their low playing time. Kevin Gravel and Nic Petan were noted as, “goners” in the piece, all-but-guaranteed to be leaving Toronto soon.
So far, Timashov leads the bunch in scoring with four points in eight games. Shore and Spezza have both potted a sole point in eight, and five, games respectively. Marincin has gone point-less through six games.
These players have seen a mix of ice time, making up the team’s fourth-line. They all have very minor cap hits. All slate in at-or-under $750,000. This means the cap-relief felt by moving any of them would be short-lived. This is especially true for when Hyman returns, as his return will reintroduce his $2.25 million cap hit to the team. While one of these four players are sure to be moved, whether it be to the minors or via trade, it will be just the start of the team’s cap-dodging. Bigger deals will be imminent for the Leafs. The team currently has no cap space. Dermott participated in Monday’s practice, meaning he could return fairly soon.
The article mentions that the team could ideally waive Marincin and then one of Shore or Spezza. This would give them enough cap space to bring back Hyman and Dermott. This would, however, leave the team with only six defensemen on their NHL roster. The Leafs may instead be faced with the difficult decision of which two forwards to put through waivers.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: During their latest Insider Trading segment, Pierre LeBrun and the TSN crew discussed the situation between the Devils and star winger Taylor Hall. LeBrun mentions that contract talks are likely to pick up again in the first week of November.
Analysis: Hall has been extremely matter-of-fact with New Jersey recently. He’s made it clear to the team, and the league as a whole, that he wants to win. With his contract expiring after this season, it’s becoming more-and-more apparent that if he can’t win with New Jersey, he has no problem leaving for greener pastures. This has led to plenty of NHL rumours looking at where the highly-touted Hall could end up if he decides to leave the Devils.
There is still hope for Devils fans, though. General manager Ray Shero put it all on the line this summer, bringing in tremendous additions in Jack Hughes, Nikita Gusev, P.K. Subban, and Wayne Simmonds. This was all in an effort to bolster the lineup and bring it to a level Hall would be pleased with.
While on paper, they’ve seemingly accomplished this, their early-season numbers disagree. The team has started the year 2-5-2, the worst record in the Metropolitan Division. Fans have plenty of explanations for why this supposedly solid team is struggling so much. Some blame John Hynes’ poor coaching, while others point the finger towards all of the new faces and the lack of chemistry.
Fact-of-the-matter is, if the team can’t turn things around they will be without Hall next season. With contract talks halting before training camp, LeBrun notes that they’re likely to finally pick back up soon. These talks will likely force Shero’s hand if he wants to keep Hall, as Hall quickly seeks a winning team to play on. If New Jersey doesn’t turn things around, there’s no guessing what Hall’s future holds.