2020 isn’t the only thing that’s fresh around here! There’s plenty of fresh NHL Rumours floating around to help ease you into the first week of the year. So, settle in and let Last Word On Hockey bring you the latest NHL Rumours to jump-start your New Year! Today we’ll focus on the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks.
All NHL rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: It’s only January but this has already been a long season for the Devils. They’re dead last in the Metropolitan division, with a sombre 15-20-6 record. Yes, the same Devils that lucked their way into prized number one draft pick Jack Hughes.
It’s looking more and more like the Devils’ luck has run out. With Hughes injured and the team’s defence literally scoring on themselves, maybe it is best if everyone in New Jersey just looks toward next season. General Manager Ray Shero, however, is looking to piece his team back together in the meantime.
Enter Colin Miller. The Buffalo Sabres have been waving him around as trade bait, and they might have hooked Shero. Miller would certainly beef up the Devils’ blue line. His cap hit is doable for the club who’s flush with $13.2 million in space. Locking him down for the next two years of his almost $3.9 million contract would give Jersey some peace of mind as they build their team back up.
The big question is, what would Buffalo want in return? While the answer to that question is unclear, there is one thing that’s complete crystal in the situation. And the crystal ball says that if the Devils stay on their downward track, fans should avert their eyes from the trainwreck and put their faith in Shero to get the cars back on the rails.
New York Islanders
Rumour: Arthur Staple of The Athletic speculates what the Islanders will do after the sudden loss of Adam Pelech to a “freak accident” that severed his Achilles tendon, sidelining him for the remainder of this season. The team is poised to pursue a rental defenceman, and Brenden Dillon is their likely target.
Analysis: “Freak accident” isn’t something you’d usually hear regarding an injury, but that’s what the Islanders are saying about Pelech and his severed Achilles. The recovery is brutal, and he’ll be out for the rest of the season. That leaves a huge 21:08 ice time hole in head coach Barry Trotz’s plans.
As always, there are two paths to take here. Fill the void internally, or bring someone new in. The Isles have already taken a few steps down the first path. Noah Dobson found himself on the top defensive pair after the shocking injury. The club also recalled Sebastian Aho from their AHL affiliate.
Dobson has two points in 13 NHL games. Aho owns four points after 22 matches. Both players are young and need some type of leader to look toward during Pelech’s absence. Unfortunately, trading for a rental veteran defenceman might be out of the realm of possibility.
Dillon has been the center of trade rumours for the San Jose Sharks. He’s hitting free agency and with the team doing a direct nose dive, he could be the first to hit the open ocean. Dillon is a good fit for the Isles, and his $3.3 million contract wouldn’t kill the team, even if they had to bump his pay up a bit if they decided to re-sign him at seasons end. Regardless, bringing Dillon in means shipping something out, asset wise.
The Islanders need to keep their assets close to the bench if they have any hope of trading for the missing forward piece they need. Maybe pinning their defensive hopes on a pair of rookies is the safest move to make.
.@FriedgeHNIC reports pending UFAs on 1-year contracts can begin negotiating extensions tomorrow.
That applies to Robin Lehner, and I figure Stan Bowman will soon reach out to Lehner's agent, Craig Oster, to get an asking price/term.
Details in here: https://t.co/D71irVQRiD
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 31, 2019
Rumour: Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun Times writes that contract talks with Robin Lehner are likely underway. The Blackhawks netminder is more focused on the term, rather than the cash value of the deal.
Analysis: Chicago has been looking a bit cringe-worthy lately. Things might be getting a little tense behind the scenes as well. Both Corey Crawford and Lehner are set for new contracts. Lehner is looking for a long-term deal. With the severity of his recent knee injury unknown, he could be looking at a longer-term absence.
Crawford and Lehner were running a strong tandem system between the pipes for Chicago. Lehner pulled ahead a bit, but this minor injury could be a major setback. He’s leaving the net with a .922 save percentage. Of all the issues the Blackhawks have had this season, the goaltending is certainly not one of them.
It could be now. And honestly, do the Hawks really need another issue? Lehner is seeking out a long term deal. Presently, the team has $11.8 million in cap space. Things are getting a little tight in Chicago. If Lehner finds himself sidelined for too long, Crawford could go on a tear and lock himself in as the number one goalie.
Should the Hawks bet on their tried and true veteran, or their shiny new toy wrapping up his one-year stint in the city? It could all come down to how long Lehner is out, and how hot Crawford turns up the heat.