Thursday is here, and that means another edition of NHL Rumours. Last Word on Hockey brings you the best rumblings from around the NHL daily, and that continues today. As teams figure out who they are as American Thanksgiving draws near, general managers begin to look towards making trades to boost their squads. Today, we look at rumours surrounding the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres.
Rishaug talking Zack Kassian potentially coming in somewhere between Micheal Ferland ($3.5M) & Tom Wilson ($5.167M)…
— 3 Mic’s ??? (@akaRCN) November 20, 2019
Analysis: Kassian is having the best year of his career at age 29. After undergoing a tumultuous early career, he’s found a solid home in Edmonton, having played there since 2015. With 16 points in 23 games so far this year, he’s on pace to shatter his career-high of 29 points set back in 2013-14. Being able to play significant minutes with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will do that for you.
However, Kassian is in his prime right now and likely having an anomaly of a season. He can’t be expected to put up this kind of production for years in the future, and if the Oilers are thinking of paying him up to $5 million a season, that could work out very poorly very quickly. Milan Lucic, who they somehow just turned into James Neal, comes to mind immediately. If Kassian gets moved off the top line, he could very easily turn back into the 15-30 point per year winger he’s historically been. This doesn’t bode well for the Oilers and general manager Ken Holland, who could potentially make a precarious salary cap situation even worse at this point.
Rumour: After some speculation has run rampant, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman says that Calgary is not looking into moving star winger Johnny Gaudreau.
31 Thoughts: https://t.co/iJOKT2KDK0
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 20, 2019
Analysis: Neither Gaudreau nor the Flames have had the start to the season they envisioned. After finishing one shy of 100 last year, Gaudreau has only tallied 18 points in 24 games. While not terrible, it’s not up to the standard he has set for himself in recent years. His shooting percentage has dropped from 14.7% last year to just 7.8% this year, though, and his career average is 12.5%. This all suggests that regression to the mean is likely to occur, even within this season. He hasn’t been clicking with centre Sean Monahan yet either, so if that chemistry finds a way to rekindle itself, Gaudreau’s points will be coming back in no time.
While Calgary deals with injuries to players like T.J. Brodie and others, their stars become more important than ever if they are intent on trying to make the playoffs. After winning the Western Conference last year, GM Brad Treliving can’t sell off pieces like this just yet. Patience is key in this situation, and holding pat will only help Calgary turn things around at this point.
Rumour: While Buffalo’s search for an impact forward been commonplace in NHL rumours lately, GM Jason Botterill made waves today when he admitted how troubled he’s been in finding an adequate trade partner, via John Vogl on Twitter.
More from Jason Botterill on trade talk pic.twitter.com/W3awHUByp9
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) November 20, 2019
Analysis: The first thing they should teach you in general manager school is to not show your hand too early. Botterill has done exactly that here.
Buffalo’s roster needs a trade to balance it out. They have a swath of defencemen coming off injuries that jam up the NHL roster. However, aside from Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Jeff Skinner, and the injury-prone Marcus Johansson, they lack capable top-six forwards. Five is less than six, which means Buffalo is in a position of need. Admitting to the world that you’ve been trying to find a trade partner for a significant amount of time with no success isn’t exactly going to drive Buffalo’s assets’ values up.
The last thing a team that’s suffered for so long like this needs is to shoot itself in the foot, and unfortunately, that’s what Botterill’s appeared to do here. By making these statements public, he’s limited the possible return he can get for his extra defencemen, and inhibited the Sabres’ offensive attack for yet another year.