The NHL season is midway through and things are heating up. This has sparked plenty of NHL rumours, adding to the excitement of the mid-season. As long as NHL rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we will cover rumours surrounding the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rumour: Per Marc Spector, the Edmonton Oilers and pending-free agent Zack Kassian are on the brink of a contract extension.
Oilers GM Ken Holland and Rick Curran, the agent for UFA RW Zack Kassian, have spoken several times and appear to be finding common ground.
My sense: They will announce a multi-year deal prior to the trade deadline, and Kassian will not go to market on July 1.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) January 17, 2020
Analysis: Kassian’s dramatics aside, he has had a very strong season. It’s been a breakout year for a 26-year-old that has been a strong contributor to the Oilers for many years. Now, he is finally finding the score sheet. Through 44 games this year, Kassian’s 28 points are only one shy of his career-high 29, which he set in 73 games in the 2013-14 season. His 28 points this year have come from 13 goals and 15 assists, putting him on pace for 24 goals, 27 assists, and 51 points through 82 games.
While this isn’t a jaw-dropping year, it’s impressive considering Kassian’s gritty, team-first-scoring-second mentality. His play has been an attractive boost to an Oilers team that, despite Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl‘s theatrics, has relied on supporting roles to carry them to the Wild Card spot they currently occupy. Locking up one of these supporting roles in Kassian will be incredibly valuable. With that said, Kassian’s party is clearly aware of this. With his importance to the team and recent boom in scoring, the Oilers will need to walk a very fine line if they want to ink Kassian to a deal that pleases him yet stays modestly priced.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mentioned in the pregame show, the Leafs among the teams that have inquired about Rangers goalie Alexander Georgiev. No offer made. New York needs a lot to move him.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 17, 2020
Analysis: Georgiev has hit the trade block with the recent emergence of Igor Shesterkin. This emergence has given New York three incredibly viable goalies, including 37-year-old Henrik Lundqvist whose contract doesn’t expire until the end of next season. This has crowded the crease for the Rangers. Lundqvist’s legendary status means he is entirely unmovable, leaving one of Georgiev or Shesterkin to be dealt away.
Georgiev being on the block is tremendous news for other teams in the league. The 23-year-old has played in 65 NHL games over the past three seasons, setting a 30-26-6 record in that span. He has also set a .914 career save percentage and a 2.99 career goals-against-average. He has proven he has plenty to offer and will surely blossom into a dominant force in the league.
Matching him with the young-and-skilled Leafs, who have been desperate for a backup goalie for months, seems like a match made in Heaven. Issues arise when considering the package the Leafs would have to send to New York to reel in Georgiev. Many believe that Jeremy Bracco will be the base of any return package, although New York is said to want much more. This is a tremendous ask for a player who will serve a mere backup role for the Leafs.
Georgiev’s contract status makes things even more complicated. His entry-level contract expires at the end of this year. His next contract will surely be an admirable upgrade from his current cap hit of roughly $800,000. Reeling in a pending-free agent, stud goalie could be looking a gift horse in the mouth for the cap-strapped Leafs. Ultimately, the Leafs will need to decide if a young, immensely reliable, yet likely rental, backup is worth the hefty asking price that New York has.
Rumour: During ‘Insider Trading’, the crew at TSN discussed the Oilers potentially turning towards Toronto to quell their need for a forward.
Analysis: The Oilers have been rumoured to want a top-six forward all season long. While players like Kassian and James Neal have provided various sparks, it hasn’t been enough to take the load off of McDavid and Draisaitl. It also hasn’t been enough to propel the Oilers offence to a competitive level. Edmonton currently ranks 16th in goals-for. McDavid and Draisaitl account for a combined 35 percent of their 148 goals.
The Oilers are hardly clinging to a playoff spot and are desperate for a spark. The Leafs would be a terrific supplier of said spark. They currently have a trio of players all deserving of more time in Andreas Johansson, Kasperi Kapanen, and Alexander Kerfoot. All three supply a high-speed, skilled style of play, something that would fit almost too-well with an offence of McDavid and Draisaitl. The Oilers have plenty of assets to acquire any of these three players, making a deal seem inevitable.