Friday 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 Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, and Buffalo Sabres.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: We start NHL Rumours in Toronto where Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was on WGR550 today and mentioned that the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for a backup goaltender but also some centre depth. He also mentions the lack of cap space may stop this.
Friedman says he thinks the Leafs are looking at backup goalie options, and also C depth. Not sure if they’re going to be able to make a move because of $ in $ out but they’re looking.
VAN has been trying to trade a forward for almost a year, but can’t find a deal they like
— James (@Account4hockey) November 21, 2019
Analysis: The goalie thing is old news. Everyone knows the Leafs are desperate for a backup as they just can’t seem to find one that works. However, the centre depth is interesting. Toronto has faced a bunch of injuries this season. John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Travis Dermott, Zach Hyman and more have missed time. However, that still wasn’t enough to save Mike Babcock’s job.
The Leafs look to move forward now and given all the injuries it seems sensible that they will be looking for some depth at centre. They traded away their key depth in Nazem Kadri when they acquired Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie. Barrie has been a disaster but did score his first goal last night. Upfront, they may be looking for someone to be a consistent three or four guy. Kerfoot hasn’t been a full-time NHL centre for years and could be used on the wings. On the fourth line, it has been a rotating cast. Finding some stability in the bottom-six could be huge as they look to make a playoff push, something they weren’t expecting to have to do.
The cap space will play a crucial role in this, however. It has to be someone cheap which is a big issue. There are not too many great depth players that cost nothing. Kyle Dubas clearly has his work set out for him. It will be interesting to see how he approaches things.
Rumour: The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis looked at potential trade options for the Edmonton Oilers. He mentioned a bunch of names that ranged from possible to not being touched. However, two of the main candidates he had were Kris Russell and Matt Benning.
Analysis: The Oilers have been in NHL Rumours quite a bit due to Jesse Puljujarvi. While he was also a name covered, we have looked at that in lots of detail. However, Benning and Russell are both at least relatively new names to the rumours. It makes sense for both of them. The Oilers will have a very full blueline soon and moving a few bodies out couldn’t hurt. Russell has played on the second-pair while Adam Larsson was out, however, now they have a blueline of Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Adam Larson, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Kris Russell, and Brandon Manning.
The emergence of both Bear and Jones has made for one of the defencemen expendable. Nurse will also need a new contract soon and the Oilers may need some space to get that done. However, Russell makes four million for this year and next. That is too much to pay your third pair defenceman. Maybe they can find another team to try and take his deal on. If they can find a team who is light on the blueline they may bite. The thought may be that Russell can still play higher in the lineup.
The same issue applies to Benning. He is currently on the injured reserve list, however, when he does get back the blueline may be too crowded. He makes just 1.9 million for this year so that deal may be much easier to move. While the Oilers would rather move more space out, more teams may be interested in Benning. Look for Edmonton to busy as the season progresses.
Rumour: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston was on SN960 and mentioned that the Ottawa Senators are keeping their thoughts on Jean-Gabriel Pageau pretty quiet for now. This is due to Ottawa’s very public deadline last season.
Senators are being very quiet about their plans with Pageau (pending UFA). They had messy breakups with their last few big UFAs (Dzingel, Duchene, Stone, Karlsson). Pageau has links to the area; there’s a fit for him to stay. But he’s an asset. Interesting if he’s unsigned in Jan
— James (@Account4hockey) November 21, 2019
Analysis: This shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone. Last year, the spotlight was all on the disaster that was the Ottawa Senators. All season people were asking when the next piece would fall. Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel. It could not have been easy for players on the team to focus while that was going on. This season though, they have much less high-profile guys up.
Their biggest piece is Pageau who is shooting the lights out. He is on pace for 48 goals right now and is looking to crush prior career highs. The Senators centre is shooting at an insanely unsustainable 24.5 percent. A full 14 percent higher than his 10.5 career average. His numbers will come down at some point. It is very unlikely the career bottom-six player suddenly becomes a top-six producer at age 27. That just rarely happens and all signs point to this being a hot streak and not much more.
Pageau is still an incredibly useful depth player, however. He is a heart and soul guy who is great at killing penalties and can do a bit of everything. He can throw the body around a bit to get the energy up and he also has a scoring touch. Pageau has two four-goal playoff games under his belt. He’d easily make any team that acquires him better. They just need to beware of the cost. He won’t come in and pot 25 or more for a team. He can come in and shore up the depth for a team perfectly.
Rumour: The Sabres have a very crowded blueline at this point. Someone is going to have to go. Rasmus Ristolainen has seemed to have found a new game under their new head coach so he may not be the fit. As well, it has been rumoured Buffalo is looking for a forward for a while now. SB Nation’s Chad DeDominicis has mentioned that when Calgary lost some defencemen earlier this season they asked about Scandella.
The Flames have also mentioned they are unhappy with Gaudreau so the fit seems natural. Obviously, Buffalo would have to make it a much bigger package. Yes, Gaudreau is struggling this year but he is still not even a season removed from a 99 point player. He won’t be traded for scraps and it will certainly cost whichever team acquires him a big price. However, the fit for Scandella to Calgary could still be there regardless. Calgary has really struggled this season and needs to turn it around.
It will be interesting to see if Buffalo can deal from a position of strength to help an area of weakness. Having too many good players is a good issue to have. Regardless, you know Buffalo will not want to waste their assets. They will only make a deal if they feel the return is fair.
That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in tomorrow for more!