Welcome back to the New Year’s Day edition of NHL Rumours from Last Word on Hockey. We’re now entering the second half of the NHL season and a lot of teams know their faith for the remainder of the season. However, other teams are still fighting for the playoff lives and are looking to make some moves to propel them into the playoffs. In today’s NHL Rumours we focus on the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and the Buffalo Sabres.
All NHL Rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Rumour: In the most recent edition of 31 Thoughts, Elliott Friedman examines the possibility of the Flames making a trade as they have “extra bodies” and some of these players are starting to become unhappy. Two names he mentions are Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett.
Analysis: Both of the players mentioned were highly-touted players and were both drafted in the first round. However, neither of them has yet to live up to the hype. Especially Bennett.
Bennett was drafted fourth overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and has certainly not played like a top-five pick. He has only managed to hit the 30 point plateau once over his career and that was in his rookie season. He is now in his fifth NHL season and has scored 59 goals and 63 points for 122 points in 338 games. Not near the point production you would expect from a top-five selection.
However, Bennett is still a sought after commodity. While he may not live up to the point totals that were expected of him coming out of junior, he plays a real hard-nosed game and works hard every shift. Bennett plays on the edge and is not afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice. At only 23 years old he still has a ton of time to improve his offensive game. A change of scenery might be the best thing for both Bennett and the Flames.
Speaking of change of scenery, that’s exactly what Friedman speaks of when he mentions Jankowski in 31 Thoughts. He is certainly a player who could benefit from this. Much like Bennett, Jankowski was drafted in the first round but has not lived up to the expectations put on him coming out of college and after serving time in the AHL. Much like Bennett, Jankowski has only hit the 30-point plateau once over his career. However, he has only played two full seasons. Jankowski is currently enduring his worst season since coming into the NHL with just one assist in 33 games. While the return on Jankowski would not be as high as it would be for Bennett, he is still someone that teams think can benefit from a change of scenery.
Jankowski is a capable depth centre who boasts a 50.1 percent career faceoff percentage. While the offence from the minor leagues has not translated to the big leagues, he could still be a contributor to a team looking for some bottom-six depth.
Analysis: As Friedman mentions, Saad is currently out with injury. However, will be a hot commodity once he returns. The Oilers are in desperate need of some depth scoring as they are currently being carried by the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. This duo has been on fire all season, however, outside of them, the Oilers offence is dry. They cannot rely on two players to do all the scoring if they want to make the playoffs this year. Saad would give them another option in the top six to play alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal.
However, the issue that presents itself for the Oilers is cap space. Saad carries a $6 million cap hit and his contract expires after the 2020-21 season. This is a large number to take on for the Oilers who have a ton of contracts expiring at the end of the season. The most important being Darnell Nurse who will certainly get a hefty raise. The Oilers will either need the Blackhawks to retain salary or take on a larger contract in order to make a deal work. The latter would most likely be what the Blackhawks would rather do. Kris Russell and his $4 million cap hit could potentially go the other way in a Saad deal in order to make the deal work. Obviously along with some sweeteners in order for it to make sense for the Blackhawks.
Rumour: TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted on New Year’s Eve that Buffalo Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues has asked the team for a trade.
While Sabres veteran Dman, Zach Bogosian requested a trade, Buffalo forward Evan Rodrigues has also made his interests in a trade known. His name has been out there for awhile.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 31, 2019
Analysis: Rodrigues joins Zach Bogosian as players looking to get out of Buffalo. However, at the moment, there is not a whole lot of trade value for either player. Rodrigues is currently going through the worst statistical season of his career. He has only registered three assists in 24 games this season and has yet to register a goal.
However, Rodrigues has had some success in the past, and teams looking for a depth piece would certainly hope he could provide that spark for their team. In the 2017-18 season, he scored 25 points in 48 games and last season he scored 29 points in 74 games. A massive drop off in terms of points per game production, but still decent production coming from the bottom six. A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for Rodrigues.
The biggest asset Rodrigues brings is he is capable of playing all three forward positions. This gives him the versatility to move around the lineup as needed. He could certainly be a valuable addition to a playoff team looking for some more depth to go on a playoff run.
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