January is more than halfway over and the NHL Rumours are coming down the pipes like snowflakes in the Midwest. Don’t stress out if you’re snowed in! Last Word On Hockey will bring you the hottest NHL rumours. Put the snow shovel down and pull up a seat! Today’s edition will focus on the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings.
All NHL Rumours are taken from their original source and are subject to change.
Analysis: The Oilers are looking like an actual functioning team. Did you hear the collective gasp from everyone in the NHL just now? They’re second in the Pacific Division, which sounds better than it actually is. What that really means right now is that they’re tied with three other teams. That division is tight.
Edmonton could be a playoff contender at this rate. A playoff run would undoubtedly test their depth. And looking at the current roster, there’s not any glaringly obvious hole to fill. Yeah, the Oilers could stand to add another scoring winger but if they can scrape by, then just leave well enough alone. Let the team ride the wave they’re on and don’t fix what’s not horribly broken.
Now that the Oilers have figured out how to run more than one line, the scoring has spread out. Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are buzzing. James Neal has 29 points already this year. The clubs defence is solid on the blue line. Their goaltending has even been dependable. They could stand to shake up their fourth line, but only if Holland does get the itch to do something ahead of the deadline. And it should just be minor tinkering. And absolutely have nothing to do with their first-round pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Recently on TSN1050, Darren Dreger discussed the Leafs potential pursuit of Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames. This is in line with another article from Darren Haynes of The Athletic, who belives the Flames should pursue Kasperi Kapanen from Toronto.
Analysis: Que up the broken record because guess what? The Leafs are still looking for defence. If they think Hanifin is the missing link, well….okay. He’s not going to come in and light it up but bringing him in wouldn’t hurt. Toronto would have to wiggle his contract in under their pressing cap ceiling. The defenceman is on a six-year deal with an average annual value of $4.95 million. So it’s not exactly a short deal either.
Hanifin would likely find himself in the middle of the Leafs defensive lineup. He’s still pretty young, at 22 years old, so there’s definitely some room for development. He’s good for around 30 goals per season and plays about 20 minutes of ice time a night. Hanifin’s passing is strong but he’s moderately physical. Really anything the Leafs can do to light a fire under their defensive group is worth a shot.
One thing the Leafs do have is a well-stocked forward group. Moving one out to make room for some defence or even a backup goalie makes sense. Does Toronto want to move Kapanen? Probably not in an ideal world. But if they want something the Flames have, it sure is a pretty piece to dangle in front of them. Kapanen is a star on the special teams and his speed is insane. He’s matured as a player and has been a workhorse for the team. Toronto would not only be losing a top-tier forward but also the physicality he brings to the team. A major point of contention for the Leafs.
Detroit Red Wings
Rumour: Helen St. James of the Detroit Free Press speculates what moves the Red Wings could make ahead of the February deadline.
Analysis: Detroit is deep in the throes of a rebuild and will once again be chucking everything that’s not nailed down up on the chopping block. They have a beautiful bouquet of draft picks and Steve Yzerman is ready to add more roses to it. The Wings have their picks and they have some prospects, but they also have several veterans that will need new contracts.
Unfortunately for Detroit, none of these expiring veterans are putting on a show to draw interest. Netminder Jimmy Howard won’t be drawing any suitors with his meager .883 save percentage. Mike Green has eight points in 40 games. That’s not going to impress any potential trade matches. No one is going to offer Trevor Daley any roses after his 18-game pointless streak.
Andreas Athanasiou could drum up a little interest, but his inconsistency and injury history makes him a bit of a toss-up for any team looking. Jonathan Bernier is another player that might draw some attention at the deadline, however, moving him leaves a gaping hole between the pipes. That just brings more problems for the Wings.
What can Detroit do? They’re surrounded by veteran players they can’t move and promising young talent they don’t want to move. And Yzerman’s grip on those draft picks should be as tight as Dylan Larkins grip on his vacation days during All-Star weekend.